Well, it took less than two weeks, but already a movie studio has taken exactly the wrong message from the box office success of “Deadpool.”
While officially unconfirmed, the MPAA released that they have given an R rating for “sequences of violence” to a non-theatrical “ultimate edition” release of the upcoming superhero throwdown flick.
While it’s good to see Hollywood becoming more comfortable with having R ratings for superhero projects, this is the wrong place to do it. “Deadpool” was successful as an R-rated movie because he is an R-rated character. While it’s conceivable to have an R-rated Batman, especially drawing from darker, more brutal storylines like Allan Moore’s Killing Joke or Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, most of Batman seems rooted firmly in PG-13 territory.
Superman, on the other hand? Not R-rated. Closer to PG, actually. Especially given the complaints about “Man of Steel” being too violent, it seems Zach Snyder and Co have taken the exact opposite direction.
To be fair? Snyder’s previous work with R-rated films based on comic books have been quite good. But again, that’s because the content of “300” and “Watchmen” were particularly adult and demanded to be told in an R-rated fashion.
What should not be happening (and likely at least somewhat is) is studio executives looking at the success of “Deadpool” and thinking now all their films need to double down on sex, violence, unicorns and Wham! references (really they should think about those last two). Instead, they should fit the rating to the story they want to tell, and the story to the source material. We only have 75+ years of the popularity of Batman and Superman to draw from in order to figure out why they’re popular. Shouldn’t be too hard.
Still, it is just a movie rating, and we shouldn’t fire up the outrage machine that much over it. Many films get special edition or director’s cut versions released for home video, and some, like “The Wolverine'” with its unrated version were a brutal, awesome improvement on the theatrical release. Snyder’s “Ultimate Edition” of Watchmen (intercut with “The Tale of the Black Freighter”) is the definitive version of that film. So, while I’m going to be skeptical, I will remain open-minded.
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” hits theaters in its PG-13 iteration in just over a month on March 25. We’ll have plenty of chance to judge the movie then.
You can read more of my weekly film reviews here on Big Shiny Robot or listen to the Bored as Hell Podcast, where Sithbot (Adam McDonald) and I review the week’s movies. Watch here in about a month for us to review this film.