When Deadpool finally burst onto the big screen in 2016, it brought with it heated discussions about the popularity of R-rated films – specifically those of the comic book variety. After a number of years of Disney’s Marvel Universe and Warner Bros.’ DC Universe insisting upon a PG-13 rating for each of their respective releases, a superhero film that embraced its R-rating certainly felt like a breath of fresh air – and it was handsomely rewarded, to the tune of almost $800 million at the global box office. Now, the recent arrival of R-rated Logan has unsurprisingly brought those discussions back to the fore.
Not only does Logan come from the same corner of the Marvel comic book universe as Deadpool (they’re both associated with the X-Men stories), but it also shares a film studio in the shape of 20th Century Fox, and a producer, in the shape of Simon Kinberg – who has been delivering X-Men movies since 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Speaking recently to /Film, Kinberg explained his position on the subject of R-rated superhero films.
“I think that each movie, we figure out what the story is, then we figure out the requirements of the story, and if the requirements of the story are R-rated, it’s R-rated. We don’t go into movies saying, this one’s gonna be R-rated, this one’s gonna be PG-13, we don’t make those decisions before we make the decisions of story.”
This seems like a great ethos with which to create stories for the big screen, but it’s also worth noting that, before 2016’s Deadpool, every superhero movie produced by Simon Kinberg for 20th Century Fox was rated PG-13. So, while this studio seems to be taking a far more maverick stance on this issue now, it did – until very recently – follow that same comic book movie formula as its competitors.
Moving onto the subject of Deadpool and its upcoming sequel, Kinberg discussed the importance of the R-rating to that specific franchise, and the studio’s new-found willingness to create those types of films. Also, while he says that the studio’s process is not to dictate what rating movies should be aiming for before they are finished, Simon Kinberg makes it clear that the intention is for Deadpool 2 to be R-rated, as expected.
“My instinct is that the Deadpool universe, which is Deadpool 2 and potentially X-Force, they require being R-rated, because that’s just Deadpool’s voice in the comic, and it’s Deadpool’s voice in the movie so far. I think audiences would be disappointed if they got a PG-13 Deadpool movie. So my easy bet would be Deadpool 2 is R-rated and most movies within that sort of shared but separate universe would be likewise.”
So yes, with the benefit of having tested the waters with Deadpool and finding huge financial success, and with Logan appearing to prove that Deadpool was not a fluke, it seems that 20th Century Fox is now prepared to embrace the more restrictive film rating – safe in the knowledge that it is possible to do that and make lots of money. Profit potential is, after all, still the driving force behind these tentpole film releases. Clearly, from the perspective of the audience, this can only be good news. The message is simple – we can indeed look forward to more R-rated comic book films, as long as we continue to make it worth their while.