Deadpool 2, the biggest R-rated hit of 2018, finished its theatrical run in October, but on December 12 it returns to theaters in a mutated form as Once Upon a Deadpool, a PG-13 version that Fox hopes with grab the attention of middle-school kids on holiday break.
The just-released trailer for the reconstituted film certainly helps the cause by highlighting the new content added to gussy up the edited-down sequel. That new content is a clever framing device that features franchise star Ryan Reynolds and Wonder Years star Fred Savage.
Early this month, Deadline broke the news about the making of the PG-13 version, but in a nutshell it’s framed by a homage to Savage’s other great child-star success in the Reagan era, The Princess Bride.
The trailer shows the subversive franchise still views the fourth wall as a revolving door and that the ever-droll Reynolds is still wickedly suited to play the jabber-jaw, mutant mercenary Deadpool. The best gag is the one that pokes fun at Fox and its wildly erratic X-Men franchise by first comparing rival Marvel Studios to the Beatles and then summing Fox up as “the Beatles produced by Nickelback.”
The Princess Bride motif has an unexpected and bittersweet aspect to it now since that 1987 fairy-tale masterpiece was written by the great William Goldman, who died Thursday at age 87. Moreover, there’s a Misery reference in the trailer, a nod to another modern screen classic scripted by Goldman.
Once Upon a Deadpool opens the same weekend as Paramount’s Bumblebee, Sony’s Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse and the Warner Bros/DC release Aquaman.
It’s bigger challenge, however, may be the availability of Deadpool 2 now on home video and via digital platforms, especially considering the unrated version (called The Deadpool 2 Plus Super-Duper Cut) has 15 minutes of truly objectionable material that doubles-down on the franchise’s specialty — shallow humor and deep irony with relentless violence.
Check out the new trailer above.