The R Rated Superhero Movie and How It (Partially) Destroyed the DCEU


The R Rated Superhero Movie and How It (Partially) Destroyed the DCEU

For dome reason, the R rated superhero movie seems to be the hardest thing for studios to invest in and also to get right. It’s so hard, in fact, that there are only two examples of series that did, in fact, get it right… Blade and Deadpool.

In the case of Blade, it felt more like a horror, vampire movie than a superhero movie. Let’s be honest, Blade came before the super hero movie craze and most people didn’t even know he was a superhero. The series was treated as a blood gushing vampire movie series. So much so that even though the series worked and brought in a lot of money, the studios looked at it as a one off. They didn’t  take any lessons away from it, and there still wasn’t another R rated superhero movie for decades.

That next one, of course, would be Deadpool. Now, every once in a while you’ll find something that did come out between these movies, (like the Punisher War Zone,) which was R rated, but the studio put do little effort into even promoting it, that it was practically a straight to video release. With Deadpool, they were investing and taking a chance. Not with a well-known character or anything, but with a movie that they put a lot of money into. And it worked. Deadpool was funny, exciting, and a smash hit.

But it was the last of its kind. And since then, DC has wanted to get in the game, big time. Only they can’t seem to figure it out. First was their movie Birds of Prey. It’s the Harley Quin movie, and is clearly an attempt to ripoff Deadpool as you get, with the character talking to the audience throughout the movie, breaking the fourth wall, reflecting on her life, even lauding the film to comment in things. Also, like Deadpool, the story is completely fractured, so that was see scenes, and then ho backwards to see lots of things that happened earlier, and then come back to those scenes from the start.

Only Birds of Prey doesn’t have it. And that’s because the movie is afraid to deliver on its R rating. The movie is not actually violent. Or nearly action packed enough. Instead, it goes for the same level of giddy violence and cartoonish neon colors that Suicide Squad went for. Harley Quinn, in particular, is afraid to kill. She’s supposed to be a bad guy, only The movie doesn’t want her to be very bad. And so she’ll do something like break into a police station and shoot a bunch of cops, but she’ll be shooting then we what look like nerf bullets. Whatever she is firing at him, bounce off her chests and apparently knock them out. There is zero blood, because despite the R rating, apparently this is play time.

So that was a DC movie that wasted the R rating. The Suicide Squad was another one (the sequel movie not to be moved up with Suicide Squad, the first film.) The sequel, which simply adds the word THE to the title (about as dumb of a sequel title as the Dark Knight Rises was, also by DC.) But here’s the thing about The Suicide Squad. It was a pretty great movie. It did everything right. Both the humor and action were terrific. And yet it still failed. The reason… Warner Brothers day and date release plan in 2021, during the pandemic.

Every one of their movies went straight to streaming. Now there have been or they are making three sequels to movies released that way… Godzilla X Kong, Mortal Kombat 2, and Dune 2. So what gives that the Suicide Squad got no love? My guess is it was the day and date situation combined with the month of release… August. Yes, there have been sleeper hits in August, (Guardians of the Galaxy,) bit those movies got real theatrical runs. The Suicide Squad was a victim of its release schedule.

That brings us to Black Adam. A superhero movie that had all the right ingredients for success. Except one. The rating. Has this movie been rated R, I’m pretty sure it could have been a success. Unlike the Harley Quinn movie, with this one they were going dark. Real dark. The tone was perfect for an R rating. The Rock was perfect for the character. Even the idea to include an Avengers-like team of other super heroes was smart. Now, I’m not saying it was a good movie, but it did have plenty going for it. And yet, they screwed up the rating, which means the action wasn’t nearly as interesting or cool as it could have been, and that made a difference.