Similar to how Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins inspired a generation of gritty reboots and virtually reinvented the entire comic book genre in the process, it seems as though his arch-nemesis’ origin story could end up having the same kind of influence. Todd Phillips’ Joker has smashed countless box office records, and now the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history could turn out to be the catalyst for a huge influx in adult-orientated superhero flicks.
Much has been made of Joker’s success, with the most profitable entry in the entire comic book genre now set for a huge awards push, and the influence of Phillips’ psychological character study looks set to be felt for years to come. Joker’s billion-dollar haul, following so soon after blockbuster-sized hits like Logan and Deadpool, has made R-rated comic book projects more marketable than ever before.
The runaway success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always lent weight to the theory that superhero movies are a predominantly family-friendly genre, but Joker looks set to change that notion. One character that fans would love to see get the R-rated treatment is Venom, especially given the lukewarm critical reception to the 2018 movie, and in a recent interview, franchise producer Matt Tolmach has admitted that Joker has made a more mature rating for Venom 2 a real possibility now.
“I mean, I think you always have to think about it, now that it works. Having said that, our movie worked really well. Our franchise exists as it is, and I don’t think anybody is looking to just say, ‘Hey, they did it!’. We have a place in the world. So it isn’t like suddenly everybody’s considering what to do with the rating.”
Venom didn’t exactly struggle at the box office, earning over $850 million worldwide. However, there were rumors that an R-rated cut was in the works before the studio decided to opt for the safer PG-13 rating, which often resulted in some jarring shifts in tone. While Tolmach wouldn’t give a definitive answer, he did continue to talk up the opportunities that a more adult-skewing Venom 2 could possibly bring to the table.
“I think what Joker does is tell you that you can succeed. For a long time, that was the narrative. And Deadpool sort of wrestled that to turf, and then Logan, but for a long time, that was considered totally forbidden. So you know, I think it’s the greatest thing in the world that R-rated movies are being embraced by massive audiences. And it just means that there are more opportunities for that kind of storytelling.”
Whether it ends up being R-rated or not, the first and foremost priority with Venom 2 should be focusing on making a good movie. The first entry was incredibly uneven, with Tom Hardy’s central performance the undoubted highlight. With the still relatively inexperienced Andy Serkis behind the camera for the follow-up, hopefully the second go-round for the symbiotic superhero will have the critics more firmly on-side than it did last time.