It’s fair to say that Dark Phoenix hasn’t had a great build-up to its June 7th release date. Perhaps the most troubled comic book movie of the summer (if you discount the fiasco of Hellboy), X-Men fans are probably keeping their expectations pretty low. Producer Hutch Parker has recently suggested, though, that audiences may have seen a different take on the material, with Fox having considered an R-rated version rather than the eventual PG-13.
Parker was somewhat cagey about the prospect of increasing the harder content in Dark Phoenix to justify the R-rating, but responded to questions about the certificate as follows:
“Not really, not really. We would’ve. I mean I don’t think, it wouldn’t have been something we were shy about. We try, not unlike with Logan, we try to let the story dictate the rating, so to really decide what story are we telling, how do we best tell it, and then what rating would that require?”
That Fox would have at least considered upping Dark Phoenix to an R isn’t surprising when you consider the success of Logan and Deadpool. The dark themes of the new X-Men film could likely have justified increasing the violence, though as far as comic book movies go, it tends to take a lot more graphic imagery to break out of a PG-13.
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From what we’ve seen so far of Dark Phoenix, the movie’s still going to feature intense battle scenes, while the franchise has never been one to shy away from tricky emotional beats. Indeed, Parker emphasizes their faith in the story and characters, saying:
“In this case, it is really more about the emotion than it was about the violence or about ya know sex or any of the things that would’ve likely pushed it to R, so it felt comfortable. I mean, it’s still a fairly dark story, but it felt pretty comfortable within this rating range.”
R-rated or not, we’ll soon see whether Dark Phoenix can overcome the ongoing ambiguity over how the X-Men will eventually fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stand on their own terms. We sure hope it does though, as without this particular franchise, we probably wouldn’t have even had the early Marvel films.