Adventist Review Online | Harry Anderson Painting at the Center of Film Controversy

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‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ ad borrows image of Jesus created by Anderson for LDS Church

The idea may seem as surreal as many of the cinematic products Hollywood churns out weekly, but a 50-year-old painting by noted Seventh-day Adventist artist Harry Anderson is at the center of a controversy over a new film.

Anderson, who passed away in 1996, was a freelance artist who created many notable works for the Review and Herald Publishing Association, one of the Adventist Church’s principal media operations. Beginning in the 1960s, Anderson also executed artistic commissions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon Church.

One of Anderson’s more popular works for the LDS faith was one he created in 1969: a vision of Jesus’ return, showing the Savior wearing a white robe and descending through the clouds, surrounded by angels holding golden trumpets aloft. The LDS Church owns the copyright to the Anderson work, as noted in a 2005 article in the BYU Studies journal.

That image, it seems, forms the basis for a poster promoting the movie “Once Upon a Deadpool,” part of the Marvel comics movie franchise. In the place of Jesus, the Deadpool character is seen in a white robe, surrounded by acolytes presumably from the film. “Yule Believe in Miracles” is the advertising slogan for the film, which opened in movie theaters on December 12.

Fans, particularly in the state of Utah, where the Mormon Church is headquartered, quickly noticed the similarities and just as quickly protested the move. An online petition calling for the Deadpool poster’s withdrawal has garnered more than 38,000 signatures, media reports indicate.

According to London’s Daily Mail newspaper, one online signer asserted the poster showed “really poor taste. I am a big fan of satire, but it’s a sad waste of talent when an organization with a large audience uses their power and position to publicly and deliberately mock the beliefs of others.”

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