After the stellar performances of #Deadpool and #Logan at the box office, major studios have warmed up to the idea of entering the "mature" line of films. #WarnerBros. recently announced that they are entertaining the idea of making rated R films, despite releasing an R-rated version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the animated version of The Killing Joke.
#DC has already danced around the subject of darker films since they began their cinematic universe, mainly as an opposing approach to their direct cinematic competition, the #MCU. However, most aspects of this have not garnered the critical or commercial success that they were hoping for. Here's a list of projects that DC could look into to get the mature ball rolling.
1. The Vertigo Universe
I realize that this is a bit of a no-brainer but it is worth mentioning. Vertigo titles were the beginning of the mature reader line at DC with titles such as Animal Man, Swamp-Thing and Sandman, Writers were given carte blanche to tackle any subject matter they saw fit. Grant Morrison broke the fourth wall with Animal Man introducing himself into the comic as "The Writer" and Neil Gaiman explored the vastness of the human mind.
Later comics such as #Preacher delved into religion, and Transmetropolitan offered social commentary on politics albeit a future version of them. All of these subjects could warrant an R rating, as they would be focused on a more adult crowd or young people who are — wait for it — mature enough to deal with the subject matter. Also, who doesn't want to see a CGI, three-faced smoking cat?
Everyone's always ready to discount an R-rated #Batman as something that we don't need to see. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. Kevin Smith argued that after Deadpool studios would do things like an R-rated #Wolverine. However, we didn't need to see that as a) we've already seen him eviscerate on screen and b) we had already heard him curse in his First Class cameo. Now that Logan has come out and is tearing up the box office we now know that an R-rated Wolverine film can and did work.
Batman has essentially been R-rated in the extended cut of Batman v Superman as well as the animated Killing Joke movie. I would back up Smith's claims that we don't really need to see Batman bloody up criminals and curse like a sailor. What I would like to see is an R-rated Nightwing. Now before you start chastising me in the comments, I don't think that Dick Grayson should be the reason its R-rated.
Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has always been the ray of sunshine to Bruce Wayne's #DarkKnight and I feel that he can continue that role in a solo film. However, have him fight the true scum of #Gotham. Show us the seedy side that has made Batman's town the hellhole it is known to be. Batman and, by extension, Nightwing battle purse-snatchers, child molesters, rapists and murders. And that's before we get to the lunatics dressing up in crazy gimmicks.
The adult situations can come from the very crime Dick intends to stop and he can do it with a smile on his face. He could solve the glaring problem in Batman v Superman that was never addressed. It isn't man vs. Superman that makes the battle so interesting, it's the ideological conflict that draws the crowd. I accept that Superman was broody in Man Of Steel as it was his first time out. By Batman V Superman, he had time to be the shining example that he is supposed to be and not Mr. Frowny Face.
Again, we technically already have an R-rated Superman; however, my version of R-rated #Superman doesn't involve sex, violence or swear words. Some of my favorite Superman comics don't involve him fighting anyone. It is the debate that he represents that is most interesting to me. When Superman first debuted, he fought mobsters and crooked politicians. Then he opted simple to be a hero and show humanity how to better itself. Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (yup, those guys again) have given us years' worth of mind-bending stories involving Superman that go beyond simply fighting villain of the month. Religion, politics and even reality itself has been explored under the pen of these two titans.
And the stories don't end there. Superman has been around for the better part of eight decades and has spurned debated for most of that time. Certainly, there would have to be a villain to fight and stunning visuals, but I believe the true star of the film would be the intellectual spark that rises. Say what you want for Logan, but the star of the film was not the fighting, it was the real moments such as him taking care of his "father," Prof. X, or learning to care for his "daughter," Laura. I don't care who you are, if you didn't roll a tear when she called him daddy, you have no soul.
Kingdom Come is one of my favorite DC stories of all time. Whereas it focused on the DCU as a whole, Superman was a featured star and spawned healthy debates about law enforcement, entitlement and one's place in the world.
Ultimately, DC "entertaining the notion" of making R-rated films is a cash grab; I don't think anyone would debate that. Having that said, I do believe if handled correctly, they can make some great films. As long as they learn the right lesson and not make it R for R's sake. Deadpool and Logan were successful because they were faithful to the source material and had individuals working on it that genuinely cared about making a good product.
What do you think of my suggestions for an R-rated DC Universe? Sound off in the comments below!