Deadpool isn’t exactly known for his restraint, so the news that a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 will be arriving in theaters this December came as a bit of a surprise. Based on the teaser image shared by Ryan Reynolds, it looks like the PG-13 edition will get around the movie’s gore and raunchy content by adding a framing device that spoofs The Princess Bride. Fred Savage will reprise his role as the grandson (even wearing his old Bears jersey), while Deadpool will play the role of the kindly grandfather reading him a story.
The most likely reason for re-releasing Deadpool 2 so soon is to squeeze a bit more cash out of the movie (pardon the cynicism). Directed by David Leitch, Deadpool 2 originally arrived in theaters in mid-May and has already been released on home video, along with a “Super Duper Cut” that includes extra footage and alternative jokes. The decision to go ahead and release a PG-13 edition of Deadpool 2 theatrically was almost certainly spurred by the success of the movie’s home video sales; for a small extension of the production budget (the scenes with Savage can’t have cost much to shoot), Deadpool 2 can get another run at the box office and, later, a new edition of the Blu-ray/DVD that includes all three cuts of the movie.
There’s another benefit to experimenting with a PG-13 Deadpool, however. With the imminent acquisition of Fox by Disney, the Deadpool movie rights will soon be under the same umbrella as the Marvel Cinematic Universe – along with the rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four. While the latter two franchises can be incorporated into the current MCU with relative ease, it’s unclear what a strictly family-friendly studio like Disney is going to do with a very badly behaved superhero like Deadpool. But improbable as the idea of Deadpool in the MCU might be, a PG-13 Deadpool 2 could be the perfect proof of concept.
- This Page: Why A PG-13 Deadpool Can Still Work
- Page 2: How PG-13 Deadpool Can Lead Into The MCU
PG-13 Deadpool Could Be Even Funnier Than R-Rated Deadpool
As funny as the Deadpool movies are, they are sometimes guilty of using profanity as a punchline (for example, Deadpool asking “what in the f**ksicle is this?”) and being over-reliant on shock humor. A PG-13 rating might push Deadpool out of his comfort zone, but that in itself could be an excellent source of humor. Not only is the idea of a notoriously foul-mouthed, violent, and sexually adventurous character trying to be Disney-friendly inherently funny, it also forces a certain level of creativity to bring the Deadpool we know and love to the big screen without traumatizing the kids. The Princess Bride parody is just one example of how that limitation can be turned into a gag.
It could even be argued that Fox should have done this sooner, releasing a PG-13 version of Deadpool so that kids could go and see it as well. Of course, it’s understandable why that didn’t happen (Fox did not have much confidence in Deadpool before the original movie came out, hence its modest budget and February release date), but Deadpool is now one of the most popular and lucrative superheroes around. If there’s a way to make a PG-13 Deadpool work, the character could straddle the line between family- and adult-oriented entertainment, with families going to see a PG-13 cut of the movie and adults going to see an R rated version (similar to 3D and 2D screenings). It’s a radical idea, but so was the MCU.
Deadpool’s Future Is The Most Confusing Of All The X-Men
Disney and Marvel Studios are widely expected to eventually incorporate the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the MCU, even if it’s still unclear how that will be achieved ( i.e. will the two universes merge, or will the X-Men be completely rebooted or recast?). Deadpool’s fate, however, is a lot less clear. The character pals around with the X-Men and with Spider-Man in the comics, but the movie version of Deadpool is almost defined by his movies’ mature content. In a world where an R rating was seen as too much of a risk for superhero movies, Deadpool turned it into a selling point.
While it might seem self-evident that the Deadpool we know could never play nicely with the Avengers, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has a different perspective. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter last year, Feige was asked whether the success of Deadpool and Logan had convinced him to consider making R-rated MCU movies. Feige replied that it hadn’t, explaining, “My takeaway from both of those films is not the R rating; it’s the risk they took, the chances they took, the creative boundaries that they pushed.” And while the line between a PG-13 rating and and R rating might seem like the most obvious boundary that Deadpool pushes, it’s not what made the character so successful.
It’s safe to say that Marvel Studios doesn’t actually have any concrete plans for Deadpool just yet, given that the Disney-Fox merger isn’t yet a done deal. In the meantime, however, the PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 could effectively serve as Wade Wilson’s audition for the MCU.
How PG-13 Deadpool Could Pave The Way To The MCU
Putting ratings aside for a moment, Deadpool and Deadpool 2 aren’t actually that far removed in tone from MCU movies. While they may spoof the superhero genre, the Deadpool movies are also fairly typical of that genre. There are heartfelt moments between the jokes, big action setpieces, characters with different powers teaming up, climactic final battles and, of course, superhero landings. The Deadpool movies are even in the same continuity as the main X-Men movies (in a way that doesn’t make much sense, but nothing in X-Men continuity makes sense). For comparison’s sake, Guardians of the Galaxy had a joke about Star-Lord’s ship looking like a “Jackson Pollock painting” under a blacklight, and a scene where Star-Lord instigates a dance-off with the movie’s main villain, so raunchy or silly comedy definitely isn’t off-limits. The MCU movies even have their own built-in meta-humor in the form of Stan Lee’s ongoing cameo roles.
Incorporating Deadpool into the MCU is arguably even easier than incorporating the X-Men, because one of Deadpool’s favorite quirks is referencing behind-the-scenes production details. In Deadpool the limited budget was lampshaded by having Wade joke about how the studio couldn’t afford any X-Men besides Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and when the filmmakers had to find a way to cut the budget by $7 million, they came up with a running joke about Deadpool repeatedly leaving his guns and ammo in the back of Dopinder’s cab. If restricting the budget can force creative (and hilarious) solutions, then restricting the movie’s rating could have the same effect.
By turning an R-rated Deadpool movie into a PG-13 Deadpool movie, Fox is demonstrating to Disney and Marvel that the character is flexible enough to become part of the MCU – even if that doesn’t officially happen until a few years down the line.
Deadpool Isn’t Connected To The MCU (Yet)
Marvel likes to push the idea of the MCU being one huge connected universe with a strict continuity, but that’s not really the case. There’s the core of the MCU, which is made up of almost all of the movies released since 2008, along with the Marvel One-Shots. Then there’s an outer circle, on the periphery of canon, where things get a little more fuzzy and continuity clashes emerge. It’s in that circle that most of the Marvel TV series now sit – occasionally referencing things that happened in the movies, but letting other things slide (none of the Marvel Netflix shows include Avengers Tower in the New York skyline, and none of the TV shows have acknowledged Thanos’ fateful snap).
Just outside of that circle, pressing its nose up against the glass, is Venom. While Sony’s spinoff movie about Spider-Man’s long-tongued nemesis isn’t part of the MCU, there was some early confusion over whether or not it would be, and some of that confusion still remains. Despite threatening to tear off people’s limbs and faces and turn them into a “turd in the wind,” Venom’s movie has a PG-13 rating and – aside from the lack of connective tissue – nothing we’ve seen so far would disqualify it from being part of MCU continuity. In the wake of Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s success, many have speculated that Sony is trying to connect Venom to the MCU, if only implicitly, in order to borrow some of Marvel’s box office magic.
Even though Disney and Fox’s deal is imminent, there are currently no connections – implicit or otherwise – between the X-Men universe and the MCU. The X-Men movies even have their own version of Quicksilver (who was played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Avengers: Age of Ultron), and have built up decades of Mutant history that is completely incongruous with the MCU’s timeline. Meanwhile, the closest Deadpool has gotten to the MCU is cracking jokes, like referring to Cable as “Thanos” and calling Domino “black Black Widow.”
All this is to say that we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. The Avengers won’t be teaming up with the X-Men in Avengers 4, and (sadly) Deadpool isn’t going to team up with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 isn’t itself a gateway to the MCU, but it could be the first stepping stone.