With Deadpool being released this weekend, many of the general public seem to be completely unaware that the movie is Rated R and taking their 7-year-old children to see this movie. There have been many conversations on social media and news reports stating that this movie is a “Hard R” and people should not be taking their children. For many people, this is viewed as a “superhero” film and a Marvel film (like Captain America and Avengers, so it can’t be that bad, can it?), and as a result, many are needing to have conversations with their children afterwards, or are simply walking out of the movie theaters. Let’s face it, this film is definitely one that breaks all the rules: From it being a 4th wall breaking film, to it being an R-rated film, to it almost being a parody of not only the superhero film but of action films in general. Is that really a bad thing though?
Quick, think of R-Rated comic book films. If you only think of Marvel or DC comics, films like the Blade films, Watchmen, and the Punisher films come to mind.
While they are well-done films, they don’t necessarily have the commercial success as their PG and PG-13 counterparts. This is because when a film comes out with an R rating, it limits who can actually go out to the movies. When people think of superheroes, they think of your standard characters like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc. As dark as Batman gets, he’s never “R-Rated” on the big screen. Even in the X-Men films, when Wolverine is slashing away with his claws, it’s often bloodless, unless he is fighting a character with similar regeneration powers.
Most comic book films that have been successful are films based off of comic books from independent publishers or imprint publishing companies that aren’t directly tied to the big two (Marvel and DC). Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kickass, 30 Days of Night, 300, Dredd, Wanted, The Losers, & Sin City. All of these films did their box office magic because they did not have the “superhero” factor. They just happened to be well made rated R films that just happened to be based off of a comic book. Some of these films did have superhero elements in them (Kickass, Kingsman, Dredd), but to the general everyday public, these were films “trying” to be superhero films (because these were characters they never heard of). Films like Kickass, and Kingsman helped influence Deadpool in a small way. They were violent, they had humor, and they were released in February. As a result, they were able to be commercially successful films as well as critically successful.
It seems as though the braintrust behind Deadpool saw those films and managed to find the correct formula to make their film, and with an impressive marketing campaign, it is working (expected to make $150 million its opening weekend), so there is a demand for this film.
The success of Deadpool is showing that there is a demand for more grown-up superhero stories in film and we as an audience can handle it. Marvel’s work with Daredevil and Jessica Jones has also showed that adult themes for our superheroes work well. Daredevil is simply a tale of a street justice superhero and all the violence involved with the world on a smaller scale. Jessica Jones really deals with trauma related to rape and control in the superhero world. Deadpool displayed a certifiably insane assassin gaining superpowers and wanting revenge on the person who gave him them, but he just does it so well!
Does the success of these storylines mean more adult issues for mainstream characters? Perhaps. After all, we never got Tony Stark’s alcoholism storyline, or Hank Pym’s wife beating, or many of the other adult themes that do exist in the comics but haven’t made it to the big screen. We as a nation can handle it, if it is presented and delivered to us in a mature and respectful way. We need to understand that it is a superhero movie, and yes it’s one for adults only (so don’t bring your children to it!).
One thing’s for sure: we’ll be getting another Deadpool film!