On Friday, I mentioned that the Netflix-Marvel shows—the most violent/profane stuff affiliated with Marvel during the MCU era—have landed on Disney+ along with more sensitive parental controls, a step toward clearing a path for Deadpool to join the MCU. Then, late Friday afternoon, news broke that Ryan Reynolds’ latest BFF, Shawn Levy, has been tapped to direct Deadpool 3. This will be the third collaboration between the two, following Free Guy and The Adam Project. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who have previously written Deadpool and Deadpool 2, are back to write the three-quel, after Wendy Molyneux and Lizzy Molyneux-Loglin, of Bob’s Burgers, previously worked on a version of the script. For what it’s worth, I expect this to move fast now that a director has been picked and Reynolds’ guys are in to work on the script. I’ve heard they’d like to get Deadpool 3 into production before the end of the year.
The big question mark is what the rating will be. Bringing back the screenwriters of the two R-rated films points in one direction, but Shawn Levy points in another. He’s best known today for directing and producing Stranger Things and directing The Night at the Museum movies. He got his start in the 1990s directing features for a Utah-based production company called Leucadia Film Corporation—now SandStar Family Entertainment—and the mission statement was to make family-friendly, positively themed films; he also directed television episodes for Nickelodeon, including working on The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Famous Jett Jackson. In the 2000s Levy started doing more mainstream features work, including Cheaper By the Dozen and Just Married, and then he directed Night at the Museum which kicked him up another notch on the studio list. Since then, his bread and butter has been family-friendly action-comedy, despite the occasional side trip into stuff like directing a Beyoncé video (“A Woman Like Me”), and the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn buddy comedy, The Internship.
R ratings are scarce on Levy’s resume. In fact, I have found only one: This Is Where I Leave You, a 2014 R-rated dramedy about adult siblings starring Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Jane Fonda, and Adam Driver. His recent collaborations with Ryan Reynolds have both been solidly in the action-comedy, family-friendly camp (especially The Adam Project). Does this mean Deadpool will no longer come with swears and gore? Not necessarily, but splitting the difference between the Deadpool script team and a guy known for PG-13 action comedies tells me this decision hasn’t been made yet. If they can get away with darker content on Disney+—everyone expects the Parents Television Council to complain, they barely count—then maybe they can also get away with dropping an R-rating on the platform.
But it seems like a PG-13 version of Deadpool 3 is still an option. You can get away with a lot of violence in a PG-13 rating if you cut the swears and the sex (another reason mainstream film is so sexless, mainstream films are hella violent instead). Or maybe we end up with two versions of the film, an R-rated version released into theaters and deposited somewhere like Hulu, and a trimmed down PG-13 version for Disney+. Deadpool is coming to the MCU, but what that will look like remains a mystery.