Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
There is no way that the movie Deadpool cannot be seen as a success. But just how successful has it been? To date it has made over 640 million dollars worldwide. The only R rated movie to make more money is the Matrix Reloaded. Because it was an uphill battle to get it made, the movies success is even sweeter. Studio execs seem to think it had no chance to break even, not to mention become a run way success. It was star Ryan Reynolds’ persistence and love of the characters that got the movie made. Now those corporate neigh sayers all want to jump on the DP bandwagon in an attempt to replicate its box office success.
Studio bosses seem to think that the best way for box office lightning to strike twice would be to make future superhero movies R rated. That if they want to have more profitable comic book movies they need to fill it full of sex, violence, and curse words. So far there has been talk about re-cutting Suicide Squad, to make it darker and edgier. Doing two versions of Batman V Superman: The Dawn of Justice, so there is two DVD releases, a PG-13 and R. And make the finial Wolverine movie a hard R affair.
I’m not necessarily a big fan of R rated movies, but I am not a complete prude about them either. To me sex, violence, profanity and adult subject matter, is OK, if it moves the plot, and seems true to the story. I hate stories where a male and female, have sex in the middle of a movie only because they have compatible plumbing. Flirting, seduction and being sexy is interesting, but in most cases the sex scene slows the storyline and takes away from the primary story.
An example of a movie that has swearing added to it just to change the ratings is Disney’s Black Hole (1979). So it could get as PG rating swear words were added at the last moment. You can see when you are watching it, that the actors didn’t seem comfortable with the cursing. It stops the action and pace of the movie.
Execs and some fans seem to think that Deadpool is the first R –ratde comic movie. It isn’t there has been quite a few out there, The Crow, Dredd, Road to Perdition, Kick Ass and Kingsmen: The Secret Service, all had R ratings. It isn’t even the first Marvel R rated title, with such shows as Punisher, Constantine and the Blade Trilogy, all being tagged no children without adults..
But I think it is important to point out that Deadpool is successful for many more reasons than just the R rating. Yes since the source material is a bit raunchy a good translation of it would also be somewhat blue. The original Sin City, is so true to its source material that they cut up the comics to make the movie’s story board. The second follows this in the Dame to Kill for, but the Gambler’s story and Nancy’s tale seem to not fit in to the ethos of Sin City (Despite being written by Frank Miller) Honoring the source material is the way into the fan boys/girl’s hearts, and if Superman is a story best told with a PG setting, you are doing no one a favor by upping the context to R.
One of the reason Deadpool works is star Ryan Reynolds. He is passionate about the character and has fought for this movie since he played a lesser version in Wolverine Origins. Changing the movie to a high rating would not have made WO, a better story, better writing would have. And putting Mr. Reynolds in every superhero movie isn’t a cure all, or Green Lantern wouldn’t have sucked.
Deadpool, comics is unique in the protagonist gets it, that his reality is encased in a comic book. He breaks the fourth wall, to directly talk to his audience. In Deadpool it is a sly commentary and a sign of his low sanity points. In the movie he breaks the fourth wall when he is breaking the fourth wall. (That is like six-teen walls). It works in this case but if Batman did it, it would immediately become camp.
Despite a joke add campaign billing Deadpool as a love story, the movie is mainly an action adventure story. But in reality even though it is no rom-com, Deadpool, doesn’t short change the love story sub-plot. I have always thought Vanessa Carlyle (Copy Cat) as a poor man’s Mystique. A blue skinned shape changer anti-heroine, in the comics.In the movie she isn’t a mutant, but a prostitute who changes her style and look on a whim. A departure form the comic character, but it stills pay homage to her. It is the chemistry between Wade and Vanessa that drives the non-combat story arc. The romance is fueled by sex that becomes love, this would not work for Clark and Lois.
Deadpool has always been driven by the character’s quirky sense of humor. This is one of the reasons why so many people love it, why it is different than the rest of the comic-verse. Any good movie will have light moments to lessen the darker parts of the story. But we can see how the ’68 Batman TV show drowned in camp, when it tried to be funny..
Jessica Jones is a show that came close to the R rating but settled, with a hard PG-13. Even though it was on Netflix, and had no specific ratting. This makes sense JJ had her origin in Alias, from Marvel’s Max Imprint, which was designed specifically for mature audiences. The show deals with several things that the comics brought up, a heroine who uses anal sex in an attempt to feel anything, a foul mouthed street hero, and also a villain that the only way he can be stopped is to brutally murder him. The subjects are doled out in small does not to make the show more hard core.
But Jessica Jones doesn’t get a hard rating because of sex, cursing and violence, but because of subject matter. In the core the Netflix’s show is about a woman recovering from an abusive and manipulative relationship. Its subject matter is one of the reason it is an adult show. It works because it is true to the source material and deftly deals with the harsh realities of both the real world and the world of superheroes.
DC’s equivalent is Harley Quinn. Dr. Quinnzel’s origin story is based on the fact that her true love, Joker is an abusive bully who only knows how to show love with violence. Should this story be told in an R rated medium? Probably, but at the same point re-cutting Suicide Squad less than three months before it release, is I believe a mistake. Also connecting a super sexy violent HQ to the rest of the DC Cinematic Universe would be a mistake. So if a Harley Quinn standalone movie comes out, it should be distanced from the more kid friendly Justice League movies or kept at the PG-13 level.
Movie franchises that have a current fowling, especially ones that are enjoyed by kids currently should do their best to distant themselves from the more mature components of the series. It will not be able to completely distant the more hard core titles. They are all connected by comic books after all. Even Wade Wilson has shown up on the animated Ultimate Spider Man. But if a franchise already brings in a family audience they should stay that way. Alcoholic rage machine Iron Man might seem like a perfect mature vehicle, but with the Iron Man and Avenger Movies already seen by many young people, making the next one full F-Bombs and a topless Pepper Potts would be a disservice e for the fans.
So what franchises might benefit form an R-rated script. A new Dredd movie would be OK if it follows the storyline of the last one. Punisher with its noir vengeance plots. For Crow re-boot I would expect an R-rating. A Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow story would to be too closely related to the Avenger’s franchise, but what Marvel Msx did was create another graduate of the Black Widow program Yelena Belova who would still be fair game for an R rendition. On the DC side Shado could be far enough from the core DCU, to make it more mature and not affect the main JLA franchise.
So let’s hope the studios take other aspects of Deadpool success and focus on that, like sharp writing, faithfulness to the subject matter and respecting their audience’s intelligence instead of just its the R rating.