The R-Rated Superhero Movie: A Yay Or Nay?


After the massive successes of Deadpool and Logan, studios finally seem convinced of the appeal of the R-rated superhero movie, with plans to deliver more adult-orientated comic book films in the future. It’s a direction that should please the older fans, who’d love to see their favorite characters step out of the confines of PG-13. More so, it’ll help get rid of all those little hellions in the cinema whose sole life purpose is to piss you off. The leashes on children are getting longer and longer these days.

While the mature filmmaking route is far from new or original, we need to think about why it’s become so popular suddenly. Is it a result of audience fatigue, or studios following the TV trend? That probably depends on who you ask, but let’s look at the R-rated superhero movie and see what difference it actually makes.

Branching Out Of Cinematic Universes

Shake a bush and a franchise pops out. Everything is part of a cinematic universe – even King Kong! This thing is connected to that thing, and those two things are connected to the thingamajig over there. It’s tiring that we can’t just have good standalone films where the creators have carte blanche without all the baggage of a universe.

This is where R-rated films buck the trend. Right now, there’s no way that a studio would consider an adults-only comic book cinematic universe, since there’s too much money to be lost. A carefully measured movie outside of the main universe, however, will be considered – especially if the source material has enough clout.

For example, a Lobo adaptation (hint, hint) would be ideal for the older audience, and doesn’t need to be part of the DCEU at all. That’s got more chance of being made than, say, a rated R Spider-Man film.

Financial Viability

I’ve touched on this briefly, but comic book movies are like printing money. Not even the critical bashing that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice endured could prevent it from making over $870 million. Trust me, I think a lot of filmmakers would take that beating (or even worse) to secure those sort of figures.

When you suddenly make a film R-rated, you completely eliminate two key target markets: children and their parents. Sure, there are many comic fans over the age of 18, but there’s also a huge number who’ll only watch these types of movies because of their children.

Deadpool made good money, but it didn’t make Captain America: Civil War cash, which undoubtedly attracted a lot more children and parents. In this current economic climate, studios will always reach for the lowest hanging fruits, rather than risk losing on their investments. Money trumps creativity, unfortunately.