How I came up with the idea behind “Once Upon A Deadpool.” No, really.
“I’ll tell you the truth and its up to you to live with it.”
This week, I found myself at the center of an internet storm where every entertainment news site and blog I’ve ever heard of has been debating how I predicted the framing device (and selling point) of the new ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ recut of Deadpool 2, several months before the writers even wrote it. Little did anybody know at the time that all of my ideas involve kidnapping Fred Savage.
He might want to look into a restraining order.
Hello, I’m ‘Some Guy’, AKA ‘A Guy’, AKA ‘Some Bloke’ AKA ‘A Fan on Twitter’, A.K.A. Michael Vincent Bramley. I’m a comics writer and an artist from Queens and this is the strange story of how I spent my Thanksgiving vacation.
This all started in 2017 when the buzz on the internet was that if Disney successfully acquired Fox, then the beloved R-Rated Deadpool series may have to adapt for the PG market or possibly die. I personally love that Deadpool is R-Rated, but seeing as how I was raised on Deadpool comics and am acquainted with some of the talented people who have written and drawn for them over the years, I also know that a PG Deadpool definitely can work. It always has worked. There had to be a way to make it work for the movie version without betraying the current fan base.
These are just the kinds of thought experiments I occupy myself with when I’m bored.
The first idea that sprang to mind was to replace all of the swearing with absurd TV stand-ins, like the infamous ‘find a stranger in the alps’ line from Big LeBowski. The second (though not mutually exclusive) idea was to have Deadpool directly address the censorship by kidnapping former child star Fred Savage and forcing him to reenact his role in the classic 1987 movie ‘The Princess Bride’. This seemed much funnier, so I tweeted it at Ryan Reynolds.
@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
I’m not sure what exactly possessed me to send that tweet. It’s not something I’ve ever done before. I don’t usually use Twitter. I barely know how. Most of my tweets are things I share from my instagram or my scarcely used blog, with the occasional retweet peppered in.
You know, a surprising number of strangers have been asking me, if I had the idea first, why didn’t I make it myself? I really hate to say it, but they’re absolutely right. I really should have made a multi-million dollar PG Deadpool movie co-starring Fred Savage instead of sending a tweet to Ryan Reynolds. That one is on me.
My point is that ideas I can’t do anything with myself aren’t worth a whole lot to me. And for the many, many people who have tweeted at me about how you shouldn’t pitch creative ideas on Twitter, yep, I know. The way I saw it, I wasn’t so much pitching a movie as I was making a joke. When I have good ideas that I can actually use, I make them into weird independent comics for weird people who like comics written by even bigger weirdos.
This was just a thing that I thought was funny and because of how little I’ve bothered to learn about using Twitter over the years, I actually thought that by tweeting it at Ryan Reynolds, then maybe one or two of his followers would get a chuckle. Or that maybe he himself might see it and laugh. Maybe there was a Detective Pikachu’s chance in a Ground Themed Gym that it would go viral and that he or someone influential would see how perfect it was… and, of course, on some level that’s still the movie I hoped they would make, but I never really expected them to actually make it.
Then I took a Christmas shopping trip to a Michigan Mall and while I was hunting for Detective Pikachu merch (that I am now certain doesn’t exist yet), my wife (Alice Meichi Li) told me about a trailer on Youtube and my mind was fucking blown.
Watching it the first time was a truly surreal experience and I’d be lying if I said it was a good one. I got a sinking feeling in my gut as I tried to make sense of the matter. Four possibilities sprang to mind.
- Maybe Reynolds saw it and knowingly used it without telling me. Something that the law doesn’t acknowledge as plagiarism, but most of civil society would acknowledge as ‘a dick move’.
- Maybe Reynolds forgot he saw it and unknowingly copied it. It’s called cryptomnesia and it’s apparently fairly common among creatives (although that one could have applied as much to me as to him until I found from an article that he pitched the idea in May of ‘18).
- Coincidence. As unlikely as it seems, synchronicity actually happens. As an Englishman, I grew up knowing that there were two Dennis the Menaces. They both exist because the UK and US versions were released on the same day by two different creators in two different countries. They’d never met or had any way of knowing what the other was working on. It’s rare, but possible.
- Something with time travel. Just trying to cover all the bases here.
It might seem counter-intuitive since it’s exactly what started this mess in the first place, but I started tweeting at Ryan Reynolds again.
@VancityReynolds WHOO! WE DID IT! My first collaboration with Deadpool himself. So I guess my check is in the mail and I'll be credited as what… a writer? Executive producer? Guru to the stars? Just happy to be on the team!#deadpool #ryanreynolds #marvel https://t.co/n0d06NMcsL pic.twitter.com/X5wSfiaFEQ
— M.V.B. (@MVBramley) November 21, 2018
I started suggesting several different ways Ryan and I could settle things;
@VancityReynolds, I thought about it and here are some suggestions for how we can settle this.
1) You could credit me somewhere.
2) You could give me some of your money.
3) You could just pay me Detective Pikachu merch.
4) We could become BFFs with matching necklaces/tattoos.
— M.V.B. (@MVBramley) November 21, 2018
Other suggestions I made elsewhere included things like ‘Hugh Jackman’s phone number’, ‘a staring contest with Fred Savage’ or ‘plain old hand stuff’.
I also retweeted my original tweet and accompanying facebook post, then eventually went to bed.
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
The next day I woke up to a topsy turvy world where my name was in a SYFY article and then Newsarama and then Screen Rant and so on and so forth until a steady stream of strangers were tweeting support, rage and unsolicited legal advice at me. I watched the comments coming in and this formed a weird echo chamber of sorts where the people who thought that I should sue somebody and the people who thought I shouldn’t sue somebody convinced themselves that I was trying to sue somebody.
If I even had a case (I didn’t), I wouldn’t have the will, the energy, or the money to fight a legal battle against Disney, Fox, or Ryan Reynolds. I half-jokingly/half-seriously asked for things, sure, but I literally never even considered suing as a viable possibility.
That first Syfy article posited that this may all be part of a viral marketing hoax and by the time io9 put their article up it had developed into a full on conspiracy theory citing the timing of when I posted my Domino painting on Instagram as suspicious. By this point, none of this felt unsettling to me any more, it was just really fucking funny.
On Thanksgiving, shortly after internalizing a metric tonne of Chinese food with my wife and her family and after I tweeted a disclaimer about how little interest I had in suing anybody, Ryan Reynolds slid into my DMs.
I’m not going to share what he sent me here, but I will say that it was a respectful friendly message where he acknowledge that they had come up with the idea independently seven months after I did and that yep, I’d gotten there first, but that no; he hadn’t and wouldn’t ever use an idea without permission.
I don’t know what the odds are, it seems incalculable, its like winning the weird lottery. But I guess that lotteries are won every week. And remember there were two Dennis the Menaces. These things can happen and it makes sense that if it were to happen to me, it’d happen with the film series that seems to have been tailor made for me in the first place.
We had a brief conversation, maybe I’ll have more to say on the subject down the line. I did ask if he would sign a photo of Fred Savage for me and we’ll see where that goes.
Since the last tweet I made on the subject didn’t inspire a dozen follow up articles and only a handful of Twitter users still want me to know that I’m a dickhead, I can only assume that things are getting back to normal now and that for the time being I can close the big Deadpool/Princess Bride book on the subject.
Besides, I don’t know anybody else who can say that the exact movie they asked for got made or that it profited a deserving charity in the process. And I’ll know that whether directly or indirectly, I really did crack the PG Deadpool code.
For movies. I cracked it for movies.