The trend of modern comic book films tends to be family friendly with the PG-13 rating. Not too mature as to ward off children, but not too childish that it appears too immature for parents or older audiences. From a market standpoint, this seems like a profitable blueprint. However, PG-13 films tend to self-censor to cater to children under the age of 13.
The R-rating provides more creative freedom for directors allowing more mature elements in their films not suitable for children. On a marketing stand point, R-rated films are not as profitable due to the grander demographic PG-13 movies attract.
However, the latest success of the R-rated comic book movie “Deadpool,” and the announcement of “Logan” has helped changed that mentality. “Deadpool” has made over 760 million in the box office. For a comparison from the domestic box office records, “Deadpool” is rated the thirty-fourth highest-grossing movie of all time. This was a shocker for an R-rated movie, as most box office record-holders are rated for PG-13 audiences and younger. It shows that even R-rated comic book movies can succeed. 20th Century Fox realized this and greenlit the movie “Logan,” an R rated film that will follow the life of Logan Howlett, or Wolverine, from the “X-Men” comic books.
This is promising for the future of comic book movies. PG-13 movies are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Some of them, such as “The Avengers” and “Captain America: Civil War” are great films. However, having the R-rating will allow for more creative freedom and for more mature comic books to receive adaptations. For example, on Aug. 4, 2016, the comic “Batman: The Killing Joke” received an R rated animated movie adaptation — one of the few examples in comic book adaptations.
Though there is a resurgence of mature comic book films, it is not going to eclipse the current PG-13 status quo, nor should it. Nothing is wrong with how comic book movies are already portrayed, however, bringing diversity to the genre will allow more creativity and freedom in how to direct them. Hopefully the film “Logan” will further pave a path for R-rated comic book films.