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Warning: Deadpool 2 spoilers ahead.
Given their R-ratings, not to mention the franchise’s foul-mouthed hero’s hyper-self-awareness, raunchy pedigree, and ability to break the fourth wall with topical musings on pop culture (i.e., the Avengers), the Deadpool movies get away with much more than most superhero movies. Or movies in general.
If there was a line that could not be crossed, however, the creators of Deadpool 2 found it. The original cut of the film featured an end-credits scene with Ryan Reynolds’s time-traveling Wade Wilson “cleaning up the timeline” by leaning in to assassinate a newborn Adolf Hitler in a nursery. (In case you’re still reading but haven’t yet seen the movie, we won’t spoil anything else he does during the heartily applauded end credits.)
“That was an example of possibly going a little too far — not in the idea of killing Hitler — but in the idea of killing a baby,” screenwriter Rhett Reese told Yahoo Entertainment while joined by his fellow scribe, Paul Wernick, and director David Leitch (watch above). “Deadpool was actually going in to strangle an infant, and I think there was something about that made people [uncomfortable].”
The filmmakers unspooled the scene to one test audience and could feel the crowd cringing during the infanticidal moment. They said it felt especially disheartening given that the Baby Hitler sequence was the final end-credits scene, preceded by vignettes that had been drawing positive, if not raucous, reactions.
Leitch, the director, wanted to end on a high note. “The thing about comedy that I’ve learned is that it is kind of empirical. People laugh or they don’t. The volume of the laugh can be measured, and we usually went for the one that got the biggest laugh,” he told us. In the final analysis, they decided to go with a version that left viewers in the right space. Introducing Hitler, it seemed, didn’t fly.
Reese and Wernick experimented with the idea of tweaking the scene to make it less unsettling. “There was the thought that Deadpool should take a Sharpie and draw a little mustache on Baby Hitler, so it made it easier for him to go in [for the kill],” Reese said.
“We thought, ‘Let’s just leave on a high note and not go there.'”
They may very well go there, however, when the unrated version inevitably pops up on Blu-ray.
Deadpool 2 is now in theaters. Watch Team Deadpool talk about the film’s groundbreaking same-sex relationship:
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment: