Welcome to Breaking Geek, a column where uber-geek Nick Doll offers commentary and reactions to the most interesting news of the week (or whatever he feels like), using his expansive knowledge of all things geek!
After the release of Deadpool, we were all afraid other movie studios would jump the gun, taking the wrong lesson from the film, and start making mindless R-rated superhero films that missed the point.
But, all these years later, it seems that studios are being too cautious with superhero films that should be rated R. Venom was originally touted as R, but Sony has since chickened out with a confirmed PG-13 rating, either because they don’t want to lock a character popular with kids under the restrictive rating, or the more likely reason, Sony wants more money.
My newest concern is that Warner Bros. will not be willing to give the new Joker film an R rating. We do not know their intent, I don’t believe we’ve seen an interview suggesting what rating the filmmakers and studio are shooting for, but this prestige film should really carry that R rating.
So, on this Breaking Geek, we’ll be exploring why studios are scared of making comic book movies R-rated, even after the success of two Deadpool films and Logan.
Leaving Out The Kiddos
I get it. Kids love Venom and Joker. You know who else they love? Wolverine… And Deadpool — though at the theater I work at it is mostly because the younglings confuse him for Ant-Man or Spider-Man. Go figure.
Teens love them just as much these days, when it is no longer uncool to be a geek. Or, rather, these characters are now so mainstream that they are no longer considered “geeky.” Whatever the case, just as I felt in middle school and high school before I reached the age of 17, some of these kids and teens will feel left out.
I was once turned away from Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. It stung and I thought it was unfair I couldn’t see the movie. The only R-rated movie I ever snuck into was Team America: World Police because I just couldn’t take it anymore!
Kids tried to sneak into Deadpool and Logan all the time. It was annoying. But, in the end, all three of these movies (counting both Deadpool films) benefited immensely from the R-rating, making for a much more enjoyable adult experience.
These kids can watch the films when they are older. Parents can bring their children to these films; I saw so many kids under age 10 at my multiple viewings of Logan that it shocked me. Or, these kids can do I what I did, enjoy R-rated films when they are 17.
Kids may love Venom and Joker, but they can wait and enjoy the characters elsewhere, from other films, TV shows, and even video games. Plus… kids need to read more comics!
Sony and Warner Bros should not fear leaving out kids and teens. Unless what they are really worried about is…
Money, Money, Money… Money!
Who doesn’t like money?
Sony certainly loves money. What else can explain their turning what was originally touted as a R-rated Venom flick into what is now rated PG-13?
Do they really care about the kiddos? Unlikely.
An R-rating may benefit the quality of the Deadpool films and Logan, but it does limit their box office potential. Yet, in the case of Deadpool especially, a PG-13 version is a neutered version of the character.
Though Venom could go either way rating wise, based on his character, one would still have hoped they started the franchise off with a harder rating, because IF we get a sequel, it would presumably involve Carnage who SHOULD be in an R-rated film. Plus, how much more excited would you be for Venom if you knew we were getting some violent, bloody, symbiote action?
Oh… you aren’t excited either way? My bad.
Same with Joker. We will likely never see an R-rated Batman flick, mainly because the kiddos in that case – Batman is just too damn popular – yet when we are focusing on a villain like Joker, and presumably not including Batman, why not have an R-rated film? Sometimes an R-rated film can actually drum up attention and make it even more desirable to see, even for the kids whose parents buy them tickets.
Now, we have no idea what Joker will be rated, but I am hoping for that R. It certainly didn’t stop IT from being a runaway success. Learn from your own past, WB.
Maybe These Films Don’t Need To Be R?
This is a fair argument. What does one really get out of an R-rating?
As far as violence and action is concerned, you can do a ton with PG-13. Look at The Dark Knight Trilogy or other edgy action films. Along as you don’t show blood, you can get away with nearly anything.
Yet, Logan is way better than any other Wolverine appearance, because his other films feel muted. With his slash attack style, we should be seeing blood. But is blood necessary for these superhero/villain tales?
Let’s look at the bigger reason for R-ratings in the States, language and nudity. Am I fine without nudity in Joker and Venom? Yes. Should there we swearing? Why not? It adds to the realism of these films.
Who doesn’t see the Joker or Venom and goes, “Oh… Fuck!”
I think the R-rating is most useful to tell the audience what type of story you are telling. Logan benefited not only for the Wolverine violence, as it also used a movie meant for adults to tell a slower, more balanced, hell-of-a-film with less action scenes. And it was wonderful.
To be fair, Venom does NOT look like that type of movie. But Joker does.
Don’t be afraid to make superhero movies R-rated, WB & Sony (Paramount doesn’t have anything and Disney will never do that)! If done correctly, more violent and darker characters can benefit from the violence, language, and unique adult storytelling that come with this rating. Because we have yet to see it abused since Deadpool.
Just do it!
Do you wish Hollywood was releasing more R-rated superhero films? What characters would you like to see get this treatment. Let’s discuss below!