The Future of Comic Book Movies

With the success of Deadpool and with the announcement of an R-rated cut of Batman V Superman, there are many parents out there who are worried that all movies based on comic books will bear the R rating. I personally don’t think that this is something that will happen. Comic book movies make so much of their money from parents taking their younger kids, that it would likely be financially irresponsible for studios to only make R-rated movies.

Something else to think about is that Batman V Superman is not the first Comic Book movie to get an alternate rated dvd/blu-ray release. If you go back three years to The Wolverine (I know it was terrible, but it was the last comic book movie to get an unrated cut after it’s PG-13 theatrical release), you will see that it really doesn’t take much to get an R rating. The theatrical release of the Wolverine had one “F-Bomb”, quite a bit of action, a little blood here and there, while the Unrated release had three “F-Bombs” (more than one is an automatic R), more action, and blood EVERYWHERE!

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, “An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually oriented nudity, drug abuse…” Before we continue, I want to break down a few of these guidelines just a little more:

Language: Movies are getting pretty lax these days, and it seems like they can pretty much get away with saying pretty much whatever they want. But as I mentioned before, more than one “F-bomb” can get you an R rating, unless there is a two-thirds majority of the board who believe the language is justified by context or use.

Violence: Movies based on comic books will usually have some kind of violence, but when it is intense or persistent, you are tiptoeing the line between PG-13 and R.

Nudity: Along with the guidelines about sexually oriented nudity, in 2010 the MPAA added that “male nudity” will likely get you an R rating.

Back to the issue at hand. Everyone behind Deadpool was doing everything in their power to push the R boundary as close as possible to the NC-17 line. With 84 “F-bombs”, violence and blood out the wazoo, a multiple minute sex montage, and a view of Deadpool’s penis, Deadpool was lucky to premiere with their R rating.

The news that Batman V Superman is getting an R-rated cut shouldn’t scare anyone, it should excite people. Where Deadpool can be seen as a model for future characters who don’t have established storylines in a cinematic universe, Batman V Superman can be seen as the new model for the PG-13 theatrical/dual rated dvd/blu-ray release. I’m not saying every comic book movie should follow either model just for the sake of following the model, but that the studios should just be focusing on who the character is via the source material.

The future of comic book movies is not going to be based on the success of Deadpool, Marvel will keep doing what they are doing with the MCU with their PG-13 films, their ABC crime style dramas, and their mature Netflix content, and DC will continue to play catch up with their cinematic universe while dominating in the animation department. The only change that we will most likely see from Deadpool’s success will hopefully be more movies/online series starring more of the anti-heroes of the comic book world.   

The bottom line is that no matter what a movie is rated, it is our job as parents to view questionable content before letting our kids watch it. If I am wrong and all comic book movies go the way of Deadpool, then you can always wait for the FX release.


4 thoughts on “The Future of Comic Book Movies

  1. Great article. I loved Deadpool, but as a father of 2, there is no way in he** I would let my kids go to see that movie (and I’d even be a bit scared to let them see an edited version). I was surprised to see a couple with their kids (all under 14) at the movie. The father kept leaning over and covering his girls eyes, but even then he couldn’t do it fast enough at times. Deadpool is just not a movie for kids, and I was proud to see that they were very public about saying so. However, it did no good for those parents who chose to ignore the warnings.

    • Thank you!! There were a few kids in the theater when I saw Deadpool too. I was flabbergasted when one of the parents exlaimed, “This is Rated-R!!” right before the movie started. Some people just aren’t doing the research before seeing a movie.

  2. You know my thoughts on this – I’m fed up of the default for superhero movies being PG-13, let alone the idea of a Superman movie even having the potential to have an R rated version. This isn’t the Dark Knight Returns but the mainstream version of Superman & Batman. Overall, it’s fine having some R, some PG-13 – but then some plain old PG, and maybe some U again! I grew up with the U rated Superman, and that to me is still the greatest superhero movie (so far).

    • I totally get where you are coming from. I would love for there to be PG rated superhero movies, then I wouldn’t have to think so hard about taking my kid to see it in the theaters. But I think with the amount of fight scenes that get put into these movies, that there is no way Marvel/Disney or DC/Warner Bros. could get away with PG movies.

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