It’s fair to say that 2016 is a key year for the movies of the superhero genre, and with several highly anticipated releases coming from both Marvel and DC this year, the genre has never been more scrutinized, or more important. With some cinemagoers tiring of the seemingly endless roster of superheroes, not to mention loyal, rabid fans baying for more of their favourites, it’s important that both Marvel and DC, and their affiliated studios, get things just right.
With Deadpool kicking off the year in spectacular fashion — the movie has taken $621 million worldwide thus far — there’s been a sudden emphasis and focus on the R-rated aspect, and a new found interest in the more adult, more mature, and more violent superheroes. Its a path rarely trodden in Hollywood, a place where family fare is king, but it was inevitable that studios would consider such a route since it seems to equal money.
The problem is simple, though. Where Deadpool was designed and crafted with adults in mind, as were the comic books, some superheroes simply weren’t — after all, children are the biggest fans of comic books, so it makes sense to target that audience. In that light, Disney and Marvel have recently confirmed that their Marvel Cinematic Universe, for the immediate future anyway, have no plans to feature an R-rated movie.
Where some studios are already working on the next R-rated superhero franchise — and Fox are considering this particular route for Wolverine 3, as reported by Cinema Blend — Marvel will not be following the trend. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Disney CEO Bob Iger simply said the following about the MCU.
“We don’t have any plans to make R-rated Marvel movies.”
It’s a very simple, if unequivocal answer, and fans may be disappointed, but let’s remember that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is focused on a particular set of characters. True, it includes some of the major favourites like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, and the Avengers as a whole, but we still have a smattering of excellent Marvel characters elsewhere. If you consider that characters like Deadpool, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and TV successes Jessica Jones and Daredevil, are not linked to this universe, despite the occasional sly wink to the famous characters within, it’s not all bad news. Fans might need to find an adult-oriented fix elsewhere, but there’s a supply readily available.
Their success lies in family friendly movies, and Disney/Marvel have made a stronghold full of money from this, so why change it? The MCU is a well-woven machine, a cinematic goldmine that exists in an entirely PG-13 world, so a tone shift just because of one film’s success — a film that was designed specifically to benefit in that way — could be disastrous, especially since the characters and their popular story arcs were always written, for the most part, with a family-friendly pen.
With Daredevil and Jessica Jones faring extremely well on Netflix, and spin-offs for The Punisher and Luke Cage in development, the more mature shows are welcome to follow the source material at their leisure, and go to a much darker place. This simply wouldn’t work for the MCU. If Marvel are planning on keeping the more adult characters on the small screen — and the current indication says so, with the MCU being distanced from other popular franchises — then it makes sense with popular streaming services at their disposal. The critical acclaim speaks for itself, so trying to fix that which isn’t broken — well, the studios probably don’t have that on their schedule.
With several high profile releases coming from Marvel in 2016, this could all change in the future, but for now, it’s business as usual for the undisputed king of comic book movies. With DC making a dent in 2016, and intending to focus on an adult market, let’s see where the superhero land lies come 2017.
Directed by Tim Miller and starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, and Gina Carano, Deadpool is playing in U.K. and U.S. cinemas now.
Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, and starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, and Tom Holland, Captain America: Civil War opens in U.K. cinemas on April 29, 2016, and May 6, 2016 in the U.S.
[Image via 20th Century Fox]