R-rated Comic Book Films

One of the greatest joys provided by comic books being adapted for film is how they help bridge generations of fans and offer opportunities for family cinema outings. Superhero movies—especially those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—balanced mature content and accessibility for younger audiences in a way that has yet to feel forced. DC’s darker tone always felt like it was meant for older audiences, but Warner Bros. and DC also had strong enough an understanding of their target audiences that they didn’t feel the need to shoehorn comedy or further accessibility into their films.


And then Deadpool happened. Based off of the comics, and in order to maintain the integrity of Deadpool’s character (a more ridiculous phrase may have never been uttered), it was necessary to create a film that was destined for an R-rating. The Merc with a Mouth isn’t known for pussyfooting around foul language as he hacks, slashes, and shoots his way through pretty much everything in his way, and studios most certainly noticed how Deadpool skyrocketed its way to being the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever. There are now execs wringing their hands, dreaming of how R-rated theatrical releases, or alternate Blu-Ray and DVD releases with more intense content, will be their new cash cows.

Deadpool and the rise of the R-rated superhero movie will prove to be a blessing and a curse.

Deadpool and the rise of the R-rated superhero movie will prove to be a blessing and a curse. The overwhelming popular opinion of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a negative one, and the news that it would be receiving an alternate, grittier release with a stronger rating was enough to raise eyebrows more than curiosity. Do audiences really need a grittier, more violent, more expletive-riddled version of Dawn of Justice? Apparently. At least having an R-rated Wolverine movie makes sense, as he and Deadpool are both known for their questionable morals, foul language, and stabbier tendencies.


What about The Killing Joke, though? Yes, Mark Hamill is reprising his role as The Joker. Yes, The Killing Joke is one of the most well-known and loved Joker origin stories (which is a shame, because there are so many better ones out there now that don’t turn quite so many stomachs while still really embodying what makes The Joker who he is). No, it really doesn’t need an R-rating to be good. Case in point: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Return of the Joker featured what was easily one of the most haunting Joker monologues in all of Batman cinematic history, animated or otherwise, and it didn’t need to rely on gore or curse words. It does get a little graphic, yes, but it never crosses beyond PG-13 territory.

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Love or hate Deadpool, this business of more superhero movies going for more shock value feels like a dangerous, misguided direction to take with what is already the cinematic equivalent of printing money. It’s unnecessary and shameless, insulting to fans who could be enjoying a better, more well thought-out product if there was less focus on making something edgy and more focus on creating films with characters true to their roots. Except with Deadpool; that bastard deserved all the R-ratings his chimichanga-loving sailor-mouth could get.


By Phil Gorski

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