The Deadpool films are proudly irreverent, but making fun of Wolverine is one thing; spoofing an iconic religious painting is something else. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are calling for the removal of an advertisement for Once Upon a Deadpool (a family-friendly recut of Deadpool 2, in theaters Dec. 12) that appears to borrow imagery from a famous piece of Mormon “gospel art.” More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition urging director Tim Miller to withdraw the offending image.
The original painting in question, The Second Coming, by Harry Anderson, depicts a white-robed Jesus Christ descending from the clouds, followed by an army of trumpet-playing angels. The Once Upon a Deadpool poster features a white-robed Deadpool (played in the film by Ryan Reynolds) descending from the clouds, followed by an angelic marching band and John Wick’s dog (RIP). A caption reads, “Yule believe in miracles.”
As satires go, the poster seems pretty blatant. The question is whether it’s “a form of religious discrimination,” as the petition’s author alleges. The painting does have religious significance for many Mormons. Commissioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1960s, The Second Coming is one of dozens of paintings Anderson made in order to spread the church’s teachings. Reproductions of the painting are frequently hung in homes and church buildings, including temples.
Many comments on the petition expressed offense and disappointment in response to the image. “This mocks something sacred to me, so I am just respectfully asking for that to change,” wrote one signer. “Many people have grown up with this picture in their places of worship, and their homes, and look upon it with reverence. It is hurtful for many to say the least,” wrote another.
But not everyone was against Deadpool’s imagery. Quoting LDS apostle David A. Bedner, one commenter wrote, “To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not made an official comment on the Deadpool image.
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