We are in a learning period in the movie industry. Elements that had been previously considered risky are used more and more often as success begins to build. Most recently, we've seen this with R-rated superhero movies. After the mature exploration of costumed crimefighter stories proved to be a success in live-action form many studios have tried to follow the same formula. And the approach has even influenced animated comic book adventures.
In 2016, DC released its first R-rated animated project, #TheKillingJoke adaptation, which centered around The Joker brutally paralyzing Barbara Gordon. Ultimately, once the movie was released, it was easy to see the mature rating was not necessary. But even with that, the promise of seeing something more adult catapulted the movie to success a the box office.
In light of that, DC went on to release an R-rated #JusticeLeagueDark, which gave us John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna and others as a team of mystical and supernatural superheroes that band together to stop a threat against which Superman's powerful fists are simply not enough.
With success going all around, would the #DCAnimatedUniverse be up for a another go with a film with a mature rating? During WonderCon, Comicbook.com caught up with producer James Tucker and asked him whether DC would stop dabbling in the more adult side of the universe after Teen Titans: The Judas Contract was rated PG-13. Here's what he had to say:
“It's hard to say. I will say this, that they have said that if the content merits the R they’ll look into it, they’re open to it, which was not something that was a part of the landscape until recently. I like having that option because there’s certain things that you just can’t do without being a little edgy, without being a little more violent.”
While this may not sound like a positive things for R-rated lovers, it's actually a great strategy. Essentially, Warner Bros.' not throwing mature ratings at any possible project in sight just because the subject's popular. Instead, executives are keeping an open mind regarding what stories would actively benefit from having a more mature rating.
An R rating is always a hard territory to explore. A project relying on it can easily fall in the unnecessary category if the nature of the film doesn't naturally lend itself to that rating. In the end, it's important to remember that the story should not serve the rating; it should be the other way around.
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Take a look at Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition, for example. The extended cut was given an R rating, but the sequences that "granted" it felt a little, well forced.
In order to avoid that situation, #DC just needs to find the right project to give that treatment to. And I'm glad to see Warner Bros. is taking its time to consider what's the best approach for any given movie without giving into any trends.
Which comic book adaptation would you like to see the DCAU tackle with an R rating? Let me know in the comments!