Movie Poster Ethics: Is This Good Parody, Bad Taste, Blasphemy Or Religious Discrimination?

Well, it sure isn’t religious discrimination, but that’s what some of The Offended are claiming.

This is a poster for a holiday repackaging of “Deadpool 2,” the tongue-in-cheek sequel to the previous tongue-in-cheek Marvel superhero hit, “Deadpool,” featuring the hideously scarred, invulnerable, foul-mouthed and irreverent superhero who routinely breaks the fourth wall to crack jokes.  The poster is a parody of the “The Second Coming,” a painting by Harry Anderson that is inexplicably popular among Mormons, and often hangs at meetings of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here’s the poster’s inspiration:


The poster is a clever concept, because the movie is coming back itself, having been released last summer, and the sequel was a “second coming” of Deadpool to begin with. Deadpool is the stand-in for Jesus, though, and a petition on Change.Org not only claims the poster mocks Mormons and their faith, but also that the parody is  “a form of religious discrimination.”

I don’t even think the poster intends to mock Mormons or Christians: it’s just a parody of a really bad, kitschy, painting that makes Jesus look like Elvis and the second coming look like  a Vegas act. Nor is a parody of religious art in a context unrelated to religion unethically disrespectful of the religion involved. Films like “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,”  “Dogma,” and satirical art like this…

or this…

or this…

…are not intended as anything but light-hearted, do not harm the religions or the religious, and should be well-within the margins of acceptable humor for anyone who has a sense of proportion and the ability to let others enjoy life.

Ethics verdict on the Deadpool poster: If you don’t like it, don’t see the movie, and stop trying to squelch artistic expression. It’s fine.

If only the movie was any good…


Pointer: ABA Journal


55 thoughts on “Movie Poster Ethics: Is This Good Parody, Bad Taste, Blasphemy Or Religious Discrimination?

    • Your statement and mine are not necessarily inconsistent.

      It a sequel can’t be close to as good as the original (without imitating it), then it’s a waste of time. Among the few that managed that bar: the Indiana Jones sequels; Godfather 2, Scream 2 and 3, “Hannibal,” “French Connection 2, “Mission Impossible” films. Among the failures: every Rocky sequel, all the “Vacation” sequels,

      I’m torn on “Airplane 2″…

          • Regarding Empire Strikes Back, that’s fair. They really have to be observed as a whole. That is initially that is why I left out Harry Potter. Though, Toy Story and Ocean’s might fall into that category too. With Indiana Jones, they are all kind of stand alone.

            If you like Indiana Jones type movies, you should check out The Librarian (not to be confused with The Librarians). It’s got an Indiana Jones feel to it.

                  • I did not watch ‘Alien’ until I long after I had seen ‘Aliens’ (the second movie). I was vastly disappointed with the original, so much that I, as diehard Sci-Fi fan, might not have even watched ‘Aliens’ had I seen the original. Things went south in the franchise from there, unfortunately.

                    Has anyone else noticed that the underlying thread of the Aliens franchise (including the Predator variants) seems to emulate the Terminator mythos?

                    If you watch all the movies, you notice that the real bad guys are the androids. The androids secretly run Weyland Corp, it is hinted, and they weaponized the xenomorphs in the first place, as shown in Alien Covenant. My sense is that, like Terminator, this series of movies has a Frankenstein complex: man’s creations end up destroying man.

                    As an aside: did you know the the Aliens franchise is now owned by Disney? Insider baseball: every xenomorph in Aliens is the daughter of a Queen Alien.

                    Therefore, every xenomorph is a Disney Princess!

                  • Terminator was a cult classic in it’s own right. T2 was MUCH better. T3 was a joke. T4 (or TS for the insider) was a sympathetic emotional sop to the fan base, despite great visuals and some good directing (YMMV). T5 (TG) was a reboot, and while interesting to the fan, without ANY appeal to non-initiated movie goers, who had to have everything explained every 5 minutes just to get the references that the plot turned upon.

                    My ranking (objective as stand alone):


                    For the wait weary, we have another James Cameron directed sequel coming up, hesitantly named Terminator 6: Phoenix

                    Filming is rumored to have wrapped last November, and the hinted-at release date is November 2019. It take a long time to do CGI for a Terminator movie!

  1. I find it to be in poor taste and quite possibly a cheap shot, but see nothing discriminating about it.

    I won’t go see it because I found the first one too crass. I would never boycott it or call for its removal.

    • ‘Poor taste’ and ‘cheap shot’ are the calling cards of Deadpool.

      For instance, I have heard that Fred Savage has been added to the movie, to reprise his role as the sick kid in ‘The Princess Bride.’

      However, in THIS incarnation he is tied to the bed while Deadpool forces him to listen to a cleaned up PG story about the second Deadpool movie.

      Does that make this movie actually ‘Deadpool 2.5?’

    • Willy is correct in saying this is a PG version (PG13 actually I think) of the second Deadpool movie.
      So not a sequel per say, but a retelling of the second movie. Or something.

  2. Or the pastafarian Creation of Man, which I would like to upload, but can’t figure out how to do.

    In that light, this is no parody, at least not of anything specific. No, pick your stock image of Jesus and a context. This one is focused on a single image. The Last Supper, the Sermon on the Mount, the crucifixion? None of those would work here. There may be other images that work, but, even if this is a Mormon favorite, there is nothing to suggest that the parody is Mormon specific.

    So, it probably isn’t….


      • Hostile? Maybe in some juvenile sense.

        The pizza one is a visual joke. In grade school, we would often draw Hitler doing the Nazi salute with a bowling ball directed at a bunch of pins. Were we nazis in training, or juveniles imagining that the Nazi salute would be a humorous way to bowl? )If you are unsure, consult the Ministry of SillyWalks).

        The pastafarian portrait is more than a visual gag. At the same time, while it seeks to parody religion, it is its own straw man. Whatever you can say about Judeo-Christian theology, it is, at the least, a little more sophisticated than a pile of spaghetti.

        Now, as a slur on Italians, yes, pastafarians are a bunch of bigots…


  3. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’m not particularly offended. I could never MAKE such a poster, it would feel too sacrilegious, but my knee-jerk reaction to seeing it was amusement. I find it almost flattering in a way; usually it’s Catholics, Baptists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses that get mocked. Seeing a Mormon reference makes me think, “Yay, representation!” especially in a format like Deadpool that mocks EVERYTHING. Life is too short to play the Offended Game all the time, and then there’s the principle of “forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

    And out of curiosity Jack, why do you refer to the original as “inexplicably popular among Mormons”? It was the LDS Church that commissioned it.

        • Hey, if someone likes it, they like it. But that’s Bible school book illustration art from the 50s…blondish Jesus, choreographed back-up, sentimental framing. It’s in the same category as Trump’s GOP Presidents sitting around drinking…

          • Yeah, I kinda see that (it was painted in 1969, which makes it worse I guess?) The painter, Harry Anderson, does fall into the European-looking Jesus trap, but he at least did some others that featured Jesus’ life which were a little more down to earth than this one.

            • Looking at the Deadpool version again, I like that they didn’t just Photoshop the original, but made their own thing. Makes it look a LITTLE less tacky.

          • This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen this version of the movie poster. It’s not what’s on the official Fox page for the movie. That one is Deadpool and Fred Savage riding a reindeer.

            As for the art itself, whether you love it or hate it when a piece of art of any kind elicits a response, it’s done what it intended to do. It’s when you’re indifferent to it that it’s failed. In that sense, I’d say this original art, the Trump GOP (and Obama Dem. one) failed on me since I feel little to no emotion about any of them.

            I’m sure whoever made this version of the movie poster knew it would get reactions, and that is why they did it. Deadpool has never been apologetic for anything or to anyone and I doubt it will start to be anytime soon.

  4. For me, the Deadpool poster is a big ick. I enjoyed Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian” very much, as the film was careful to separate the real figure of Jesus from Brian Cohen, the mistaken Messiah. I wouldn’t participate in a boycott but I hope the Deadpool film tanks.

  5. I think the craftsmanship of the Deapool one better than the original. Something that white should still have other colors as reflected highlights. The figures are far more three dimensional and look like actual people instead of instances. It would be hard to try to present awe in a painting, but the original really needs a redo now that they can get better artists.

  6. It’s meant to be disrespectful, which is why they found it funny. I saw it for the first time a few days ago and it didn’t register whatsoever. I can’t imagine why anyone could even muster an eye roll over it.

  7. I don’t see anything offensive about it, and I think Jesus would laugh.

    The Bible explains that we were created in God’s image. That would no doubt include a sense of humor, even the self-deprecating kind.

  8. This is one I have evolved on,. I am very religious but many of my Christian brethren would disagree, as they focus on the gay thing. Why do they always forget the do not judge others line. I was once offended by religious jokes, I realized we laugh at what is relatable, so if we learn to laugh at the silliness of our faith it makes us stronger,. Now I am amused not offended at all, but then my faith is a little stronger for it.

    • Why do they always forget the do not judge others line

      I’ve noticed you mention this a few times. I would respectfully comment that there is a large difference between ‘assessing’ and ‘distinguishing’ — these are necessary for all moral decisions (and many other decisions) — and ‘holding someone in judgment’.

      The notion of the latter form of judgment is expressed here:

      “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

      Everyone knows what it feels like to be ‘held in judgment’ by someone else. It is like an imposition of their will. But this does not mean that their ‘assessment’ (of something) might not be accurate, and as it pertains to law, or moral law, or social norms and valuations, it might be completely necessary that they hold to a proper assessment while avoiding that of ‘holding in judgment’.

      It is, naturally, improper and arrogant as well as self-deceptive to hold others in our imperious judgment when we are likely involved in violations of legal or theological proscriptions. But this cannot mean that we then determine that all rules are not necessary, or that all assessments are to be avoided.

      Obviously, you are referring to sexual issues, and I recognize this. So, to make an assessment, to arrive at one based in logic and reasoning that accords with certain defined principles in regard to a sexual ethics, and to hold to that assessment, to express it, is different from judging another’s status in respect to the observance of such rules.

      In a real sense these are different categories.

  9. I sometimes wonder how often those who claim to be offended by a particular statement really belong to the group which might *theoretically* take offense. You see this often in SJW-types, whose hypersensitivity has caused them to seek discrimination where none exists. Similarly, those opposed to the SJW movement sometimes feign offense at utterly benign statements, as a sort of straw man to mock the overly sensitive. I don’t know anyone thin-skinned enough to truly be upset by that movie poster, even among very conservative Christians who would be appalled to watch the movie. It leads me to wonder whether the cry of “Discrimination!” isn’t just another straw man-type criticism of the LDS church.

    • Don’t wonder. VERY often. Third-party offense is a well-established road to power. Few of those purporting to be offended by the Washington Redskins were fans of the team, or football, or Native Americans. It was just one more way to bend the culture to the progressive will, laying the groundwork for more substantive cultural victories.

  10. In my way of seeing things, it is not really the parody itself that is the problem. The problem is different and it is more severe. It is that the essence of religious symbols, in the sense of their real meaning, are no longer understood. Because they are no longer understood, they cannot be appreciated. And when something is simultaneously not understood and not appreciated, it opens the door to ridicule.

    Ridicule is definitely used by those — let us say here in our own culture — to express resentment of the moralizing religious. It comes down to this, doesn’t it? We cannot resent what does not demand anything of us, but when demands are made by something or someone which we no longer understand, appreciate or respect, then ridicule is the weapon.

    If one examines philosophical and religious material such as Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences — not an easy read and a demanding one — one might see rather clearly the degree to which understanding of religious and philosophical categories have been weakened. I might also use the word degradated. Because the ideas are difficult to access — it takes a strengthened mind to get to them — and because the general direction of culture is toward all the known means by which people are seduced into immediate pleasures, accessible moods, and contingent enjoyments (that right there requires a philosophical disquisition to appreciate the sense), they simply lose the capacity to rise up and understand/appreciate Higher Things.

    So naturally, they will not honor and respect what is sacred because ‘sacred’ as a category no longer exists for them.

    One has to come to accept that we are in a downward cycle that will likely bottom-out in a more full destruction of those categories of *value* and *meaning* that were part-and-parcel of Occidental ideation.

    But the other side of that is arriving at that lowest point, and recognizing what happened and how it happened, and then having to initiate a counter-movement. The counter-movement is afoot. For example I have just been reading Anthony Esolen’s Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. It’s pretty good. But then I have also read Savitri Devi and Julius Evola who explain and defend what, now, would be taken as Nazi-like movements within culture against decadence. That is, quite frankly, one of the messages behind the Book of Revelation of John at Patmos. Savitri Devi approaches a similar *event* (imagined or real) through the myth of the return of Kalki (the last incarnation of Vishnu).

    Culture, I guess, is a constant cycle between decadence and relaxation, and periods of rigorous discipline and control. Now, as seems to be the case, we might be approaching a nadir of a group of different cultural processes. There is an awakening of more rigid social movements in Europe. This is obviously frightening to some sectors (the NYTs has a yearslong case of loose bowels as a result).

    What is going to happen? And what’s going to happen when, one day, there is a general and popular reform movement that wells up in America? Perhaps similar to the so-called Great Awakenings?

    Personally, I would avoid all ridicule of the essences in any sophisticated religious expression. But defining what is ‘sophisticated’ requires a certain effort. There is no way to ridicule or joke one’s way to that understanding.

  11. Better Sequels: (in chron order: memory assist )

    Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
    Goldfinger (1964-James Bond series)
    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
    The Empire Strikes Back (1980-Star Wars series)
    The Wrath of Khan (1982-Star Trek series)
    (Carlos Saura’s) Carmen (Spain, 1983)
    Lilya (Sweden, 2002-The Millenium Trilogy)
    The Return of the King (2003-Lord of the Rings trilogy)
    (Wong Kar Wai’s) 2046 (China, 2004)
    Kung Fu Hustle (HongKong, 2004)
    Volver (Spain, 2006)
    Howl’s Moving Castle (Japan, 2007)
    The Dark Knight (2008-Batman series)
    Khalnayak Returns (India-2017)
    Phirr Bhag Jayegi (India-2018)
    Equal Sequels: Men in Black, Deadpool, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,

    About 15 titles missing. Computer crashed (too many windows open) and this was all that was restored. Enough to show range, I guess, and I didn’t bother going all the way back to the Silents. The only ultraviolent disagreement we have is Men in Black – I took to the first two like a kid discovering his dog could talk. I found both MIB original in concept and action, relying mainly on character and plot to move it forward at a pace that was faster than it seemed, and high in wry humor coming from many places, with an undercurrent of save-the-world in that dry “it’s just a job” FBI manner. (I have a very negative attitude toward a lot of comedy, especially on TV, that “sits” on every joke so that a presumed LCD – lowest common denominator – can “get” it, by which time it’s squashed flat – it only takes an extra second or two to lose the funny. Both actors (and you know I detest one of them personally) were bonded and working at it. And they stopped at two. That should be the law for sequels. After that its cannibalizing time or not a sequel at all.

    Most of the titles here were available on my Favorite Films list (which is not a critical “Best” – whatever that means – films list but is just what it says, currently getting culled from around 200 (you outgrow some; others just fade). Everybody has different favorites for different reasons, including I don’t have a clue.

    • I’d agree with all but the equals, but most of those were not sequels, but second installments in a series. (Or third—remember that Goldfinger came after “From Russia With Love” which came after “Dr. No.”

      • Agreed about the series entries; they don’t belong on a list of sequels. And I admit I stuck in the “equals” just to counter your opinions of MIB and Deadpool in the sense that you liked neither of either of them, and I liked both of both. And I really couldn’t decide which was better between “The Girl With….”s, though I can tell you, with the full power of my film reviewing vocabulary behind it, that the third “Girl With….” sucked bigtime.

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