As much as the advertising for Once Upon A Deadpool would have you believe this was going to be more than just a watered-down edition of Deadpool 2 (and the advertising campaigns for these films have always been one of its biggest assets) sadly the reality is that this “re-telling” is more a hindrance than a help to the legacy of the Merc with the Mouth.
Whilst there are moments peppered throughout Deadpool 2 that evoke laughter without the insistence of overt violence and rapid F-bomb droppings, much of the film’s appeal and success lies in its freedom to embrace its heavier, more-adult rating and run with it to no end. Once Upon A Deadpool, try as it might, doesn’t make a good argument in the case of the Disney/Fox takeover as this character (wholeheartedly performed by Ryan Reynolds) was designed to break the tradition of the moderately-violent superhero action film.
Ultimately a test as to how devoted a fanbase Deadpool actually has, Once Upon A Deadpool‘s main gimmick (and the sole reason for this earning a cinema release) is its Princess Bride hook with the recreation of the Fred Savage sequences where his youngster was being read a bedtime story by lovable grandfather figure Peter Falk. The joke is that Savage is playing himself and has awoken in a reconstructed bedroom of that very scene, held against his will and forced to hear Deadpool recite the plot of Deadpool 2, taking the piss out of its meta mentality along the way.
Fans are unlikely to want to watch a sanitized version of the film, and youngsters or families who were either turned off by the film’s adult content or too young to legally enjoy it are similarly unlikely to seek this particular feature out as it omits large portions of the original sequel, as well as The Princess Bride references likely to be too vintage for the younger audiences of today to understand.
Playing out like a censored edition of your favourite action movie that the local TV networks would savagely alter back in the day, Once Upon A Deadpool is an unfortunately unnecessary outing that doesn’t even have the intelligence to comment on its self-aware censoring. Disney have allegedly assured fans that their takeover won’t affect Deadpool’s adult rating when it comes to further releases, but if this is the route the House of Mouse intends to travel, they can keep their family-friendly temperament. Fans would rather be left with two profane Deadpool movies than be subjected to a second sequel that removes the very material we gravitated towards in the first place.