With the nerdgasm-inducing orgy that is the Avengers franchise, including the Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor properties, rampaging through the cinematic universe and gobbling up all the cash in sight, one wonders what will become of the Marvel entities whose film rights are currently owned by other studios. Some of them are doing just fine on their own. Spider-Man is enjoying success as a reboot with the next chapter soon-in-coming. For better or worse the X-Men franchise is also doing well, but eventually both properties will run their course.
What will then likely happen is a massive sell-off of the characters into the fold of our Dark Lord Disney and then geeks and fanfolk will salivate over the infinite number of crossovers, cameos, and OMG TEAM-UPS!!!! (Whew, now I need a tissue). That is all well and good but before that can happen; things need to run their course and companies like Sony, and 20th Century Fox, will have to compete with the awesome spectacle that is Marvel Studios. Good luck with that because, as long as they are competing in the same markets for the same demographics, both Sony and Fox stand, precisely, a snowball’s chance in hell. Spider-Man and X-Men are big properties, but they’d better not open on the same weekend as The Age of Ultron or it will be a bloodbath.
So what is a smaller foe to do? The answer is simple. Sony and Fox need to switch markets, cut the kids games and grow up a bit. Put simply, “R”-rated superhero movies!
This is not a new train of thought. The idea that some comic flicks need to/deserve to/must be rated “R” is something fanboys have been screaming for since before superhero movies came into fashion and there are precedents; The Watchmen, all three Blade films, The Punisher films, Sin City, and Constantine just to name a few. The elder fanfolk is a market that can be selectively targeted. Marvel does not seem to want to do that yet which means that Sony and Fox can beat them to the punch. What is even more delightful is that they each have the characters to do it and do it well.
Let’s start with Ghost Rider.
Sony Pictures still has the rights to the Spirit of Vengeance. The first movie was passable and the second was laughable. A reboot aimed at “mature” audiences could be just what the flaming bonehead needs. The Rider comes with an eclectic bunch of foes that he could face and removing the tethers of a “PG” or “PG-13” rating could allow scriptwriters to finally let him loose. The stories could range from tackling his established enemies, to dealing out his vengeful wrath on the copious amount of normal scum that inhabit the Earth. I can envision a film where a sinister cabal of individuals, made powerful through devilish means, is having their tab called by the Man Downstairs. Tasked with dragging their damned rumps to the broiler is our Rider. Plot twist, this Rider has a personal gear to grind with the aforementioned doomed fools. Hellishness can then ensue with all the vulgar language, gratuitous violence, and potential nudity one can handle.
Next, I got four words for Fox, Merc… with… a… Mouth!
They are sittin’ on a GOLDMINE and all they have to do is quit with the rootin’ and make with the shootin’. They have the rights, they have the demand, and they even have a perfect actor. What the deuce are they waiting for?! Wade Wilson’s history is so convoluted, wibbly-wobbly, tangly-bangly that they can just pick a thread and pull for their story. Here’s one, Deadpool’s relationship with Vanessa Carlysle aka Copycat annnnnnnnnnd go! During all of his devil-may-care adventures he can talk, break the fourth wall, talk, shoot, stab, incinerate and explode things, talk, wreak unimaginable havoc, AND talk. That alone would satisfy the masses, but should they take aim at the “R” rating giving us all the gory, explicit, profanedetail they will go from satisfaction to absolute ecstasy.
He has been featured in six films by a fantastic actor with a loyal following but it just has not been enough. I am writing about the mutant who is the best there is at what he does and to hell with how not nice it is, the Canucklehead himself, Wolverine.
He has had two solo outings, the first being visually fun but lacking in substance, and the second being brave in the attempt but only attempting. We have not yet seen Wolverine the way he is meant to be seen. Sure he has smoked a few cigars, smooched a few women, kinda slashed and gored his way through some adversaries, and managed to say “bub” once or twice but where was the berserker? Where was the vicious animal that rips and tears into his foes with maniacal abandon? That hint of a glimpse of a taste we saw in the Mansion Sequence in X2 was little more than a tease. I mean come on! Don’t get me wrong, Hugh Jackman has done Wolverine justice in the face of crappy scripts with gaping plot holes, a glaring absence of martial arts training, and atrocious CGI. He has done his best and I am grateful for it; however, I do think that Days of Future Past will likely be the last time he grows the chops and dons the claws.
Once that story is in the can it will be a good time to reboot the character for mature audiences. We do not need an origin story because we already know it. Just give us Wolverine doing what he does best against… well against anyone. It could be Weapon X, the Yakuza, The Hand or a random clan of ninjas, whoever wrote and produced the Twilight films, the list is practically endless. I offer a film about a Wolverine that is amnesiac and searching for who he is. He is struggling with flashes of memories that seem more like nightmares and the berserker rage that is within him. Brooding with smokes, beer, and broads he is suddenly confronted by agents of Weapon X who seek to regain their lost property. Logan can rage his way through the film trying to get answers culminating in a rip-roaring climax involving a showdown in the Weapon X facility where he was molded to be the world’s best living weapon. It’s a thought but MAKE IT RATED “R”!!!!! Give the filmmakers that leeway and give the fans what we want.
There is a massive amount of potential in these franchises. Yes superhero films geared toward a broader audience are a wise financial investment but not all superheroes translate that way. Some are best portrayed when they are allowed to be themselves. Ghost Rider, Deadpool, and Wolverine are not “PG” and/or “PG-13” characters. To properly do them justice you need to take the gloves off and send the kids to bed. A gritty Ghost Rider film that sees him searing the flesh and souls of his prey instead of turning random objects into flaming Ferris wheels is going to be box office gold. Deadpool done right… ‘nuff said. Wolverine actually being Wolverine could make an actor’s career and have fans laughing all the way to the theatres and Fox laughing all the way to the bank. Sure the demographic is smaller, but the payoff will be greater since the majority of the “mature” fan base does not have to ask mom and dad for the cash to hit the Cineplex.
And if that isn’t enough to make a case then consider this; eventually Marvel will come looking for the rights to its characters. The more profitable and popular those characters are, the more money both Sony and Fox can reap when the time comes. Or you could just do it for the sake of the fans… just sayin’.