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Once Upon A Deadpool is a characteristically attention-grabbing move from Marvel‘s quirkiest franchise. Released over the holiday period, it’s a PG-13 recut of Deadpool 2—a film whose original appeal relied on adult humor and ultraviolence. The family-friendly version also includes some new scenes riffing on The Princess Bride, which led to an unexpected question this week: Did Once Upon A Deadpool steal its idea from a fan on Twitter?
Last year, writer and artist M. V. Bramley tweeted an idea that sounds uncannily similar to Once Upon A Deadpool—even down to the detail of recruiting Princess Bride actor Fred Savage for a cameo.
@VancityReynolds If Marvel forces you to make a PG-13 Deadpool, just copy the framing device from The Princess Bride and have Deadpool censoring it for Fred Savage as a bedtime story. A kidnapped adult Fred Savage. There, I fixed it.— M.V.B. (@MVBramley) December 7, 2017
Sooo... I tweeted the exact plot of the new 'Once Upon A Deadpool' PG version of #Deadpool2 at Ryan Reynolds almost a year ago and it somehow wound up in a movie without me knowing. #deadpool #ryanreynolds #xmen #movies #OnceUponADeadpool #fredsavage #marvelmovies #mcu pic.twitter.com/tTMHwh2A1a— M.V.B. (@MVBramley) November 21, 2018
In an interview with io9, Bramley said he came up with the idea of using The Princess Bride because it would explain a kid-friendly retelling of the same story.
“I thought about The Princess Bride’s framing device being about censorship (and, of course, Deadpool would be a fan) and the idea of Deadpool kidnapping an adult Fred Savage and forcing him to listen to Deadpool read the movie kind of cracked me up.”
The original tweet was posted in Dec. 2017, and Once Upon A Deadpool was announced in Sept. 2018. The ideas are so similar that you have to wonder if someone at Fox saw this tweet (albeit from a very obscure Twitter account) and stole the idea. On the other hand, The Princess Bride is exactly the kind of genre-savvy reference the Deadpool franchise likes to make, and sometimes great minds do think alike.
Deadpool 2 co-writer Paul Wernick attributed the idea to Ryan Reynolds, although the timeline suggests that Reynolds shared his idea months after Bramley’s tweet. Bramley was understandably miffed (no one likes the idea of being plagiarized by a multimillion dollar movie franchise, after all) but it looks like they’ve come to some sort of agreement. In a tweet posted on Nov. 22, he said that he’d spoken to Reynolds and the whole situation seemed like a weird coincidence. He added that he wasn’t planning to sue anyone connected to the movie, and he’s more “amused/confused” than angry.
.@VancityReynolds and I had a brief talk and I believe he was as confused as I was. It seems like this may all just have been a big, insane coincidence and I'm happy to leave it at that. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie in December! #deadpool #onceuponadeadpool— M.V.B. (@MVBramley) November 22, 2018
Will this be enough to lay the plagiarism rumors to rest? It’s evidently enough for Bramley, but we won’t be surprised to see some conspiracy theories linger on. Those two movie pitches are virtually identical, after all.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor