Insert Topic – Deadpool or Why R Rated Is Cool But Not Always Necessary


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Welcome to Insert Topic, where once a week I’ll spend some time talking about stuff. Topics will vary from what’s big in nerd culture to my experiences with trying games or movies or anything really that I’d written off as not my kind of thing. This week I am to talk about “Deadpool”, and the pros and cons of the R rated comic movie.

A lot of people have been talking about “Deadpool” lately. Every corner of the Internet has something about the Merc with a Mouth and his (real) big screen debut. Critics like it, fans are raving, and all for good reason, “Deadpool” absolutely nailed it. From the over-the-top opening credits you knew this was going to be a wild ride. We’re living in a world where comic book movies are half the big blockbusters that get released each year. In 2016 alone we’ve got six big ones I can think of off the top of my head, not to mention all the TV series that are either already airing or due to start. Most of them are pretty good, and even if they aren’t everyone’s favorite, enough people like them.

The thing is they don’t always feel very much like the comics. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is damn close to feeling like a comic, but not the ones they’re based off. Marvel found this wonderful balance, bringing classic characters and stories to life by melding different aspects together. Most of the other studios doing this haven’t quite hit that mark yet, and Fox has probably had the most struggle. I mean, look at the last ‘Deadpool’ we got on the big screen, that was a goddamn disaster.

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It’s alright though, those things happen. Nothing is ever perfect out of the gate, and the only way to fix something is for it to get it wrong. Fox did just that, they fixed the character Deadpool, and made a comic book movie far better than anyone could have hoped or expected. It was pretty obvious from the huge marketing campaign that “Deadpool” was going to be big. Ryan Reynolds genuinely seemed to be having fun in every promo and interview he did, it was obvious he loved this character. I’m not sure they could have picked a better person to play Wade Wilson on the big screen, well rather they seem to have actually found the real life Wade, look both their names even have alliteration.

“Deadpool” has a ton of things going for it, the characters are great, the story is fun and easy to follow, and it feels like the comic without alienating people who have never read them. For fans of the comic movies you see familiar, X-Men related things, big action, and a charming, funny, and deadly main character. The comic fans see a real representation of what they love, from Colossus actually feeling like Colossus (But needing slightly better CG work), to Deadpool breaking the fourth wall. On top of all that they got to do it without really reigning back on the over the top violence and attitude that is Deadpool.

And that kids is why we’re here today, not to talk about how amazing “Deadpool” is, which it is and the box office numbers show it, but to talk about how giving a movie like this an R rating helped it. First things first, Deadpool was not the first R rated comic book movie. We’ve had a ton of them, whether you realize it or not. All the “Blade” movies, All of the “Punisher” movies, both adaptations of “Dredd”, “300”, “Sin City”, I could keep going, but I think that’s enough. Sure these movies aren’t all good, or at least they aren’t all as good as “Deadpool”, but that’s opinion. “300” and “Sin City” were two fantastic films, and the 2012 “Dredd” was exactly the movie that character needed after the 1990s.

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The thing is, “Deadpool” wasn’t better because it was R rated, it was better because they did it right. In order to make a good Deadpool movie it had to be rated that way, the movie would have been a joke (see “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) if it had been PG-13. The thing about Deadpool is, he doesn’t have to curse or have sex, but he’s gotta kill and be graphic about it. He’s an insane mercenary, and as he says many times in the film, he’s not a superhero.

I think something a lot of studios can take from this is to make the movie you want. Don’t go in aiming for a specific rating or audience. Sure the MCU is always going to be PG-13, but that works. Captain America doesn’t need adult content, he’s fine the way he is. I also don’t think studios need to go crazy now thinking that R rated action films are the way to go. If the rumors are true that we may get an X-Force movie then by all means that needs to be rated R. X-Force is a group of superheroes going around murdering bad guys assassin style, it just makes sense. And of course the final Wolverine film would probably be awesome as an R rated feature, finally getting to see Logan go full on berserker on film without any fancy cutaways to limit the violence or sensor his language would be a fitting farewell to Hugh Jackman’s time as the character.

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It doesn’t need to happen though, “The Wolverine” from 2013 was a good Wolverine movie. It had its missteps, but all of Fox’s movies do. The thing is it felt like the film version of Wolverine we’ve grown to know over the last decade plus. There really isn’t a need to redefine a character that we aren’t going to see the same way again. I’m sure after Jackman is done, Fox will recast the character, Wolverine is too popular not to, but save the rebranding for then. Just give us a damn good movie to go out on for now instead.

By the time “Batman V Superman” and “Captain America: Civil War” come out I think most of the hype over R rated superheroes will have died down. People will remember how awesome these movies can be as long as they’re done right. Come on, Batman punches a man through a floor in the last BvS trailer! We’ll always have people dissatisfied with how characters are portrayed or movies are done. Studios can’t win them all, but as I keep saying, if they just make the best movie they can, then that is going to speak for itself regardless of what it’s rated.

talks a bunch on PodQuest each week. He's also been known to write about stuff from time to time.

You can Email Chris or follow Chris on Twitter @Just_Cobb or Facebook

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