Since the unexpected box-office success of “Deadpool” — and the more predictable success of “Logan” — studio executives have spent the past few months openly wondering if they could slap an R rating on any of their biggest properties. Back in March, a source at DC Films admitted that the studio would “100 percent” make an R-rated superhero movie if matched the characters. Similarly, Warner Bros. Animation has possibly announced its plans to release an R-rated animated version of “Watchmen” in the near future. For these studios, the combination of mature content and spandex equals dollar signs, and they’re quickly shifting to react to what they perceive as the new demands of the marketplace.
Not Kevin Feige. The Marvel head recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the current trend towards darker superhero movies, and while he admired the creative vision of movies like “Deadpool” and “Logan,” he’s not exactly rushing an R-rated adaptation of, say, “Moon Knight” anytime soon. “My takeaway from both of those films is not the R rating, it’s the risk they took,” Feige explained in the interview. “The chances they took, the creative boundaries that they pushed. That should be the takeaway for everyone.”
Feige seems right on the money here. There’s a danger with any new trend in Hollywood — from CGI characters to profane superheroes to digital de-aging — to end up in a situation where the tail is effectively wagging the dog, forcing screenwriters and directors to throw in blood splatter and swear words just for the sake of having them. Sure, Marvel has a few characters that would benefit from a more restrictive rating (see the aforementioned Knight, Moon), but building a cohesive cinematic universe is more important to the studio than chasing the latest Hollywood trend. And as Feige notes, fans really are responding more to the freshness of the content than the R-rated specifics. As long as fans feel that Marvel isn’t playing it safe with their properties — that they continue to be bold and take risks in service of their characters — I’m sure that Feige and company can live with the disappointment of a very vocal few.