Superhero movies are great. They are a fun time at the movies, most films are for everyone, and bad ones are becoming scarce. However, even if you like superhero films, you would have to admit the genre is becoming stale nowadays. That is why r-rated films like LOGAN and DEADPOOL are refreshing. R-rated movies are not stimulating because of their MPAA rating. They are refreshing because of their elements of creative control, comedy, and mature storytelling.

When it comes to modern superhero films, there is a status quo of PG-13 comedy, multiple reboots and sequels, and similar storytelling. This is where r-rated films come in. R-rated films may not be for a family outing, but everything is not for everybody. Having r-rated films in the genre keeps it fresh and original, and we should have more of them.

No PG-13 Comedy

Comedy is the most common element in mainstream superhero movies. For the most part, they are funny, and they have the same kind of humor that’s familiar in most of the films in the genre. The “you would not kiss your mother with that mouth” bit in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON was a joke about Captain America using a swear word.

Alternatively, the recurring “you are so hideous” bit in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 when Drax describes Mantis. You will find the same safe jokes in funnier movies like ANT-MAN, IRONMAN, and the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY films. This is where DEADPOOL comes in.

DEADPOOL’s adult comedy is a refreshing take on comedy in superhero films. Its self-awareness stands out as Deadpool breaks the fourth wall to mock the continuity issues with 20th Century FOX. It is especially comical when he takes a jab at the studios’ failure with the Deadpool character from WOLVERINE: ORIGINS. There’s much creative freedom with the comedy considering Deadpool’s joke about which Professor X is going to make a cameo in the movie between actors Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy.

Deadpool wearing a Hugh Jackman cut out in R-rated DEADPOOL
Deadpool wearing a Hugh Jackman cut out in DEADPOOL

The r-rating in DEADPOOL is important for the comedy bits to push some boundaries beyond a couple of f-bombs. DEADPOOL pushes the genre’s boundaries by killing off henchmen in a comedic fashion. The opening sequence where Deadpool counts a bullet for each henchman is hysterically in line with the character.

However, nothing comes close to when Deadpool kills someone with a Zamboni, and he makes a joke about how’s he will get crushed, eventually. That scene is shocking as it is laugh-out-loud funny.

It is safe to say that DEADPOOL’s r-rating and creative freedom allows it to be the most entertaining superhero movie in the genre. Sure, a film can be funny with a PG-13 rating, but DEADPOOL works pretty damn well without it. Let’s not forget that the romance storyline would be insufferable if it was not for Deadpool’s NSFW anal jokes.

Exploring Edgier Characters

The benefit of making more r-rated superhero films gives a chance for filmmakers to explore edgier characters. Just think about it, we see the same rotation of superhero characters every five years. We get terrible Fantastic Four reboots, reboots of Spiderman, Batman, Superman, The Punisher, Hulk, Daredevil and tons of sequels.

It is rare for characters who have not been on the big screen yet to have their own superhero films, let alone a character that’s edgy. Of course, there’s DEADPOOL, but that is only after Ryan Reynolds viral video of how popular the character is when he does not have his mouth sewed shut. Now would be a perfect time for studios to take a chance on more characters like Deadpool.

Characters like Deadpool are in right now. They are the modern day anti-heroes with moral ambiguity, though they do have redeemable qualities. R-rated movies can give these characters the platform to thrive in their unorthodox manner of being a superhero.

Take the upcoming VENOM film for example. A solo VENOM film is a different approach to the genre, and it surprised comic book fans. Sony acknowledges the success FOX has had with using edgier characters to sell an r-rated movie. That probably explains why Venom is getting a solo film even though he is not technically a “hero.”

Venom in SPIDER-MAN 3 R-rated
Venom in SPIDER-MAN 3

Unlike Deadpool, The Kingsmen, and Wolverine, Eddie Brock as Venom is vengeful with very few redeemable qualities. Aside from becoming the Anti-Venom, Eddie Brock has fewer storylines that portray him as a protagonist. One possible storyline that producers can explore Venom in the superhero genre is his saga with Carnage.

With an r-rating Carnage’s serial killer backstory can perfectly compliment Venom as a protagonist. Having an r-rating for VENOM helps filmmakers explore the character’s ambiguity giving them the creative freedom to tell his story the right way.

Mature Storytelling

For the most part storytelling in the superhero genre has been solid. What’s even better is that over the years the genre has been true to its comic book counterparts. However, this brings us back to the problem with superhero films becoming stale. Even though the storytelling coming out of Sony, FOX, MCU, and DCEU have been good, they seem interchangeable.

If you take the origin stories of WONDER WOMAN, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, IRONMAN, or MAN OF STEEL you will see too many similarities. This is why we need more films like KICKASS (2010), KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014), WANTED (2008), and LOGAN(2017).

READ: Have you seen KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE yet? Check it out before the sequel.

An r-rated movie does not simply mean more F-bombs and gory violence; it means more mature storytelling. LOGAN would be the best example of that concept. Yes, LOGAN has a lot of blood and dismemberment which is why it received its r-rating. However, the gore is a part of the creative freedom James Mangold uses to create the film’s narrative, and it works well.

Logan and Laura buring Professor Xavier in R-Rated LOGAN
Logan and Laura burying Professor Xavier in LOGAN

For a lot of comic fans, and fans of the genre, LOGAN challenges how they perceive emotional superhero films. The storytelling in LOGAN is heartfelt and bittersweet in the way it portrays Wolverine as a shell of himself. In the film, Logan is dying, and his regenerative abilities had all but stopped working. The same goes for Professor Xavier, he was once the world’s sharpest mind, and now he is an old man with dementia.

LOGAN yanks at our emotional chains in the way it confronts us with mortality. Everything in the film deals with mature themes which are refreshing for a genre that’s usually tame. Superhero films do not normally deal themes of death, aging, or our own mortality, but it could do that more often. Not every superhero film has to work with those themes, but it is nice if they tried it more often.

Creative Freedom For Filmmakers

If any of the other topics told you anything, refreshing superhero films are a result of creative freedom for filmmakers. Whether it is mature storytelling, exploring edgier characters, or unleashing relentless comedy, these are all results of creative freedom.

READ: Want an inside look into the KINGSMAN: GOLDEN CIRCLE? Click here!

Creative freedom is imperative for filmmakers in any genre, and we have seen what happens when studios infringe on creative freedom. FANT4STIC is what happens. When FOX allegedly took Josh Trank off FANT4STIC in 2015, they deprived us of a better version of Fantastic Four. Studio interference and petty squabbling among the cast and crew is not the factor that holds filmmakers back. MPAA ratings play a role in restricting what filmmakers can and cannot put on the big screen.

When it comes to superhero films, the coveted PG-13 rating has been a key factor for studios to earn the big bucks. From a studio’s perspective, a PG-13 rating grants a wider release than an r-rated movie. Taking away creative freedom is why BATMAN V SUPERMAN and SUICIDE SQUAD is rated PG-13 instead of rated-r.

The studios got their grubby little paws on the films when they had r-ratings and re-edited them to fit a PG-13 standard. By taking away a lot of creative control and running scared from the r-rating, the editing in both films came out terrible. Embracing an r-rating is not always ideal, but if studios have to shoehorn a film to fit a PG-13 standard, they should not be surprised when fans notice the bad editing and point it out.

Matthew Vaughn on the set of KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE R-rated
Matthew Vaughn on the set of KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE

LOGAN, DEADPOOL, and KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE’s are refreshing breaks from the PG-13 superhero movies. Their commercial and critical success backs this claim up too. Filmmakers like James Mangold, Tim Miller, and Matthew Vaughn, had the creative freedom to use the r-rating to their advantage and they did it well.

James Mangold got to use the Logan series in the comics to tell a mature story in LOGAN. Tim Miller and Matthew Vaughn got to use edgier characters and comedy in DEADPOOL and KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE. The process of creativity thrives from creative freedom, and sometimes that means filmmakers need the flexibility of an r-rating.

The Future of R-Rated Superhero Movies

R-rated superhero films keep the genre fresh by being more mature, edgy, and all-out entertaining. They should be made sparingly, but more r-rated superhero movies retain the genre from getting stale. In short, they bring a refreshing nature to the genre. Filmmakers having creative freedom on a superhero film is refreshing. Studios taking risks with edgy characters is refreshing. A superhero film that openly mocks its own genre is refreshing. All of these factors are good things.

Cable and Deadpool artwork for DEADPOOL 2 R-rated
Cable and Deadpool artwork for DEADPOOL 2

With the box office success of r-rated movies like DEADPOOL and LOGAN, the studios are listening to its audience. We are getting a sequel to DEADPOOL, KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE premieres this Friday, and we are getting VENOM in 2018. It does not stop there, we arer getting a reboot of SPAWN (1997), and maybe a Martin Scorsese Joker film.

Today’s superhero films are way better than the films of the 1990s and 20oos. There is a solid movie formula from the MCU, better continuity from FOX, and the DCEU’s got Wonder Woman. Now we have better r-rated films, and the studios should capitalize on that too.

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