As Once Upon a Deadpool hits theaters for a limited holiday run this week, the titular antihero has come under fire from the Church of Latter Day Saints for one of its recent posters. This has become such a big deal within Mormon communities that an online petition asking the filmmakers to remove the poster from circulation has reached more than 38,000 signatures.
If you aren't familiar, Once Upon a Deadpool is a PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 that is being released into theaters over the holiday season, allowing younger audiences to enjoy the movie. One of the posters features Deadpool in a white robe, spreading his arms wide, with a slew of angels behind him. As the petition suggests, this image is making a "mockery" of a painting called "The Second Coming" by Harry Anderson. The painting is prominently featured in the Church of LDS.
"Deadpool recently posted a new poster for the Once Upon a Deadpool that resembles the sacred picture of 'The Second Coming,'" writes the petition. "In the original painting Jesus Christ is at the center surrounded by angels. In the poster Deadpool replaces Jesus Christ. Deadpool is positioned exactly as Jesus Christ was and is wearing a white robe. It is unknown if the picture was used to intentionally mock the Church of Jesus Christ, but it is clear it was copied from the original picture. This is a form a religious discrimination. We ask that the picture be not used or posted in any manner. That they find another poster to represent their movie."
While the poster certainly isn't sensitive to religious beliefs, thinking about the context does make a lot more sense out of the artistic choices being made by the Deadpool team. The painting depicts the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, hence the title. Once Upon a Deadpool is the return of Deadpool 2 theaters, representing the film's "second coming" at the box office.
Regardless of whatever joke the poster is attempting to make, the church isn't happy about it.
"A movie character which is all about crude humor and satire and sarcasm. They would see it being as precisely the opposite of the kind of characters and virtues that Jesus embodies," Patrick Mason, chair of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, told Fox 5 San Diego.
"The Second Coming is an important part of LDS religious belief. The idea that Jesus will come to the earth again and that particular portrayal of it is one of the most beloved and produced images of the Second Coming," Mason added. "You see it in Latter-day Saint homes and churches all over the place."
Advertisements for Once Upon a Deadpool also made references to various Christmas traditions, keeping in the theme of the season.
Once Upon a Deadpool is now playing in theaters.