One of the most challenging aspects of movie fandom is anticipation. Sometimes, the wait for the next (or first) installment in a franchise can be excruciating. This is especially true when the marketing behind the film produces a steady stream of trailers, commercials, and posters leading up to the film’s premiere. With all the coverage around a big film prior to its release, it can sometimes feel as though the big day will never arrive.
The upcoming release of 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool is without a doubt one of those films – highly anticipated and promoted in some new way on an almost daily basis. Deadpool’s fan base is a devoted bunch, and as such the desire to see an adult-oriented standalone film starring the Merc With a Mouth has led to a somewhat heightened level of impatience.
However, one Deadpool fan in particular is not just impatient to see the see the movie, but is also dealing with what he feels to be an injustice. Eight-year-old Matthew is a huge Deadpool fan, but unfortunately for him, his mother understandably has reservations about taking a child to see an R-rated film. Matthew had previously written a letter to his mother in which he laid out several very sensible reasons for her to take him to see the movie, even going so far as to play the "I do my homework all the time" card and make a promise to clean his room. The clever youngster even states that he will cover his eyes when told, should the film’s content necessitate such an action. (No word yet on whether or not Matthew planned to peek through his fingers.)
After hearing of Matthew's plight, Grace Randolph, host of the YouTube channel Beyond The Trailer, has stepped in to help. As she explains in the video above, a petition has been created at Change.org with the intention of it being sent to her "contacts at Fox PR department" if the signature count gets high enough (at the time of this writing the petition has received over 1,000 signatures). The petition specifically requests a PG-13 cut of Deadpool be made especially for children like Matthew who are too young to see an R-rated character do R-rated things in an R-rated film. Randolph’s reasoning for creating the petition can be traced to the existence of two different versions of the trailers – one censored and one red band – and since trailers can be duplicated, why can’t the final cut of the film?
One of the more significant questions stemming from the "debate" Randolph and her followers have been having with regard to Fox releasing two separate cuts of the film is that of: What would a PG-13 cut of the film look like? As Randolph herself points out, the film received an R-rating by the MPAA for strong violence & language throughout, sexual content, and graphic nudity. She even goes so far as to say the film is likely "riddled with swear words" and "can't even be a good radio play." By that description alone, it seems like a PG-13 cut of Deadpool might end up with a final runtime that is about as long as Randolph's petition-oriented episode of Beyond the Trailer.
While the simultaneous release of a PG-13 cut of the film wouldn't actually hurt anyone -- it certainly wouldn't prevent fans eager for the R-rated version from seeing the cut they want -- maybe it just boils down to the fact that people can’t have what they want all the time. Sad but true. How many of us were once desperate to see films we were too young to see and simply had to wait until we were older (or could sneak over to a friends house with less strict parents?). Furthermore, Deadpool is not a child’s hero and as such, it makes sense that the film is not intended for children.
Perhaps the larger issue here, then, is what seems to be a recent surge of fan petitions to major Hollywood studios. They not only make requests unlikely to be granted, but also grossly overestimate how much sway a handful of fans can have over the commercial output of billion-dollar studios. Audiences send their approval or disapproval to Hollywood via the box office, not through a list of signatures gathered online for whatever whim strikes their fancy. In the case of young Matthew, no one wants to see an excited child be disappointed, but it’s probably best he set his sights on the current list of superhero films appropriate for an eight-year-old to view.
Deadpool opens in theaters on February 12, 2016, followed by X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X–Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.