Since it was first revealed that Disney was looking to purchase 20th Century Fox, a number of Marvel fans grew anxious that Disney would bring Deadpool movies down to a PG-13 rating going forward, while doing the same for all of Fox's other R-rated properties like Kingsman and Predator. The recent release of Once Upon a Deadpool essentially served as an experiment by Fox, taking the already released Deadpool 2 and putting it into a PG-13 format. The recent release of Once Upon A Deadpool pushes one question to the forefront of many fans' minds: will Deadpool movies remain PG-13 going forward?
While Once Upon A Deadpool wasn't quite the best, leaving a number of its promises presented through its marketing empty, it was decent at being PG-13. Much of the original comedy still worked, even without the gore and language being cut out. The movie still pushed the limitations of a raunchy comedy, still being far from "family friendly" while also managing to fit everything into the parameters of the MPAA's PG-13 guidelines. Though Once Upon A Deadpool did feel rather choppy in its editing compared to the original Deadpool 2, this is mainly because they had to edit around the bad language. Had the script already been at a PG-13 level, Once Upon A Deadpool would have felt a lot more smooth. Though the movie may not have been able to push as many limits as before, Once Upon A Deadpool did show that a Deadpool movie can be made at a PG-13 level and still keep the essence that makes Deadpool so great on screen.
However, the question at hand isn't, "would a Deadpool movie work at a PG-13 level?" Instead, the question is, "will Deadpool movies remain PG-13 going forward?" While this is obviously a question that will get a definitive answer further down the road, taking a look back at some of the previous statements made by Disney executives may help to give us a clue of what they are thinking they will do with Deadpool and the other R-rated properties currently owned by Fox.
Last year, when news of the Fox-Disney merger first surfaced, the future of the Deadpool franchises was one of the most asked questions on the matter. It wasn't long before Disney's CEO Bob Iger spoke up about the concern in order to give us a glimpse of what they were expecting to do with the R-rated franchise. Here's what he had to say on the matter.
"[Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what's coming, we think we can manage that fine."
While it may seem unusual for Disney to release R-rated movies, it's not entirely unheard of. In fact, the hit Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction was actually released by Disney back in 1994. While Disney would never release anything R-rated under the Disney logo, they aren't afraid to release R-rated movies under other logos that they own, such as Miramax Films in the case of Pulp Fiction. Surely, almost every R-rated franchise currently being planned at Fox will still be carried out under Disney's management, as long as the movies open up with the Fox logo rather than Disney's.
While movies like Kingsman and Predator appear to still be in the clear under Disney, the case of Deadpool is still a bit muddy. While Bob Iger did say a year ago that he would be comfortable releasing Deadpool movies with an R-rating under the Marvel Studios logo, he also expressed that his greatest concern in the matter would be communicating to audiences that it was not for kids. Historically speaking, this is a lot more difficult than it sounds.
Back in 2016, when the first Deadpool movie released in theaters, it was heavily marketed as a raunchy superhero movie, with a number of the trailers and promotions including heavy profanity. Despite this, a number of parents still brought their children to the movie, only seeing the Marvel logo and automatically assuming it would be family friendly. This resulted in quite a number of issues, with theaters eventually refusing to refund tickets for parents who mistakenly brought their kids to the movie but left after only ten minutes.
While that Deadpool incident was obviously a fluke, it did have consequences, not just for Fox and the movie theaters that showed Deadpool, but also for Marvel Studios. The Marvel logo at the beginning of Deadpool made people immediately associate the movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as not everyone realized that they were two different franchises under two different studios.
Should Disney release R-rated Deadpool movies, specifically under the Marvel Studios brand, it would more than likely have some sort of negative impact on the brand that they have worked so hard to establish over the past ten years. At the end of the day, especially after seeing Once Upon A Deadpool work adequately under the PG-13 parameters, it may end up being in Disney's best interest to pursue a Deadpool franchise without the excessive use of blood or F-bombs.
While this would at first be a huge turn-off for Deadpool fans who have become accustomed to the language and gore in Deadpool movies, the Deadpool franchise will still be entertaining nonetheless. Traditionally in the comics, Deadpool is not defined by his language or violence, but rather his style of humor. In fact, numerous Deadpool comics have the same language limitations as a PG-13 movie, yet still manage to entertain comic-book readers. Once Upon A Deadpool proved that this format can work on screen. Though the movie ultimately suffered for being a choppy edit of the original cut of Deadpool 2, had Once Upon A Deadpool been released back in May rather than Deadpool 2, it more than likely would have been received rather well.
At the end of the day, this is all speculation, but considering that Fox went so far as to give Once Upon A Deadpool a theatrical run, it really seems like Disney and Fox will be looking to keep Deadpool movies PG-13 going forward, despite Bob Iger's comments to The Hollywood Reporter from a year ago. Fox's other R-rated properties should be kept in tact in the merger, but considering that all of the X-Men properties will be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's unlikely that we will ever see an R-rated Deadpool movie again.