For superhero fans, the 1990s were a troubled decade. In the '90s, comic book writers and artists seemed to fall in love with the words 'dark' and 'gritty'. Desperately seeking to mirror the tone of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns or Alan Moore's Watchmen, they introduced us to a far more brutal superhero world. Now, after the success of both Deadpool and Logan, there are calls for Fox's X-Men films to embrace that darker, bloodier style. That's particularly the case for X-Force — but should this film be R-rated? Producer Simon Kinberg has weighed in with his opinion...
Simon Kinberg's View
No surprise, #Logan's critical and popular reception has led to calls for more R-rated superhero films — with a particular focus on X-Force. Simon Kinberg's view is simple:
"I think that each movie, we figure out what the story is, then we figure out the requirements of the story, and if the requirements of the story are R-rated, it’s R-rated. We don’t go into movies saying, this one’s gonna be R-rated, this one’s gonna be PG-13, we don’t make those decisions before we make the decisions of story. My instinct is that the Deadpool universe, which is Deadpool 2 and potentially X-Force, they require being R-rated, because that’s just Deadpool’s voice in the comic, and it’s Deadpool’s voice in the movie so far. I think audiences would be disappointed if they got a PG-13 Deadpool movie. So my easy bet would be Deadpool 2 is R-rated and most movies within that sort of shared but separate universe would be likewise."
In other words, Kinberg accepts that Fox seems to be building little sub-universes, each of which works in a different way. Logan and Deadpool seem to belong to a universe that's pretty much R-rated, and — given Deadpool 2 will set up X-Force — he clearly believes the same is true of X-Force.
It's actually pretty much the same thing Kinberg said last year, in the aftermath of #Deadpool's success:
"When there are films that want to be raunchier, want to be darker, want to be violent or R-rated, [Fox will] be open to it. And not every movie should be. I don’t think that the main X-Men movies should be R-rated; I don’t think they’re R-rated stories. But if we were to make an X-Force movie, that probably should be R-rated."
So it's interesting to see that Kinberg's views haven't changed at all in the last year!
Is Kinberg Right?
Personally, I think he has a very valid point. X-Force has to be understood in the context of 1990s superhero comics, with the Comics Code Authority (which had kept comics in check for decades) finally losing power. The '90s essentially became a flash-flood of everything the CCA had condemned; sex, violence, blood-'n'-guts, and gore.
X-Force was created by writer / artist Rob Liefeld, who set them up as a black-ops mutant team - an unlikely evolution of the more PG-13-styled New Mutants. In X-Force, warriors had bulging muscles and massive guns (often used as phallic symbols), the women were sexualized to an extent that seems incredible to today's comic books readers, and if a superhero used a sword, there were most certainly be bloodshed.
X-Force established itself as a major presence in the X-Men's world. Since then, there have been several incarnations of the team; although the quality of the books has dramatically increased, they've tended to follow Liefeld's lead. So much so that one miniseries was entitled X-Force: Sex and Violence.
Fans of X-Force won't find anything particularly surprising in Kinberg's views; in truth, I don't think anyone who's actually read the books would have expected anything different. But Kinberg is at least reassuring us that the developing Deadpool / Logan / X-Force corner of the Fox universe will retain that same style.
- Celebrating 25 Years of Marvel's X-Force: A History of the Best-Selling Comic!
- 'X-Force' Is Coming To The Big Screen — Here's How 'Deadpool 2' Will Set It Up
- 'Logan': X-23 May Be Wolverine's Clone, But The Two Are More Different Than You Realize
Ultimately, I don't believe that all superhero films should be R-rated; but it seems logical that X-Force should be. Fox is developing a new, powerful corner of their X-Men universe, one noted for raunchy humor and bloody violence. It's proving tremendously successful - and X-Force should surely continue in that vein!