For a long time, studios were dead against the idea of R-rated comic book blockbusters because it would instantly rule out a huge portion of their paying customers from seeing it, reducing box office takings as a result. In the last several years, however, that theory has been turned on its head as the two entries in the Deadpool franchise, Logan and Joker all did major business and rank among the six highest-grossing R-rated titles ever made.
However, not every adult-skewing superhero movie is destined for success, as Birds of Prey found out earlier this year. The confused marketing campaign was also a huge factor, but drastically narrowing the target audience definitely contributed to the spinoff just about squeezing past the $200 million mark, which is a very poor number for the latest installment in a shared comic book universe.
If any upcoming DCEU project lends itself to an R-rating, it would be The Suicide Squad. Not only does director James Gunn have a background in horror, but the very idea of a team of antiheroes facing seemingly insurmountable odds almost guarantees mindless chaos and carnage. There had been speculation that the soft reboot could be rated PG-13 as a direct result of Birds of Prey bombing, but in a recent interview, star Joel Kinnaman made it sound like that certainly won’t be the case.
“That movie is going to be insane. The script is so funny. Every page of that script was funny, and every page made me laugh. James just has this command of that genre, but also over every aspect of comedy and even the marketing. He just understands the world so well, and since he wrote it, he really reinvents not just the concepts, but also the characters. For me, it was like I did my first comedy, but it’s like heavily R-rated. It was a real learning experience for me too because I’d never done a comedy in that way before. So I asked James to work with me and teach me this sh*t. And yeah, we had so much fun doing it. That movie is going to be a f**king monster. Honestly, even though I’m in it, I can’t wait to see it as a fan.”
Expectations shot through the roof following the behind the scenes promo that was shown at DC FanDome, and with The Suicide Squad not arriving until next summer, there’s still plenty of time for the studio to decide if running the risk of another commercial disappointment is worth forcing Gunn to alter his original vision for the movie.