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How ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ is different than ‘Deadpool 2,’ besides a PG-13 rating

How ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ is different than ‘Deadpool 2,’ besides a PG-13 rating
Fred Savage is Deadpool's captive audience in the PG-13 "Once Upon a Deadpool." 20th Century Fox (20th Century Fox)

As a foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking antihero, much of Deadpool’s appeal is that he is the rare Marvel character leading an R-rated superhero franchise. This understandably makes it a bit difficult to imagine the Merc with a Mouth and his adventures repackaged into a family-friendly film.

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But Ryan Reynolds and 20th Century Fox take on that exact challenge with “Once Upon a Deadpool,” a PG-13 retelling of “Deadpool 2,” which arrives in theaters for a limited run starting Wednesday — just in time for the holidays.

Luckily for “Once Upon a Deadpool,” Wade Wilson’s self-awareness is built into the franchise’s DNA. This gives the film some room to play with formula and try to be more than a mere recut of the original theatrical release. Plus, it provides an opportunity for the film to reach fans who may have been deterred by “Deadpool 2’s” R rating. (As an added benefit, a portion of the proceeds will go to Fudge Cancer.)

Here are four ways that “Once Upon a Deadpool” is different from the original theatrical version of “Deadpool 2.”

[Note: In case it’s not obvious, some spoilers for “Once Upon a Deadpool” follow.]

Hello Fred Savage

“Once Upon a Deadpool” gives fans of “The Princess Bride” the homage they never knew they always wanted with the “forced” participation of Fred Savage.

As revealed in the movie’s various promotional clips, Deadpool has kidnapped Savage in order to re-create the framing device from the fan-favorite 1987 film, the familiar child’s bedroom set and all.

Of course, Savage is no longer a kid and Deadpool is nothing like a typical grandfatherly figure. But that will not stop Deadpool from telling his tale.

The device allows Savage to interject at various points throughout the movie whenever he has issues with the story. He even brings up very specific criticisms and concerns that some viewers had when “Deadpool 2” was originally released.

Goodbye “adult” references

The original “Deadpool 2” took full advantage of its rating by including plenty of violence, profanity and crude humor that just has no place in a family-friendly movie. This means there are entire sequences that (as expected) have been completely removed from this new version.

Any expletives that haven’t been cut are bleeped out, but “Deadpool 2’s” language is just one piece of its R-rated puzzle. Scenes involving dismemberment have also been toned down, and gone are any explicit references to drugs (though some of the edits are definitely a bit tongue in cheek).

Other “new” scenes

Fans who have only seen the theatrical release of “Deadpool 2” will notice a few scenes that were not a part of the original cut. These scenes, though, are not completely new — they’re also included in the film’s unrated “Super Duper” extended-cut home release.

Stan Lee tribute

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, who died last month, was known for making cameos in many of the modern superhero movies, including in 2016’s “Deadpool.” “Deadpool 2,” however, was the rare film in which Lee did not physically make an appearance (instead his face is seen in a mural on one of the walls).

In a post-credits sequence, “Once Upon a Deadpool” adds a touching tribute to Lee who also appeared in the 2017 Deadpool short “No Good Deed.”

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