Rated-R Superstars1 of 12With Deadpool’s massive success paving the way for R-rated superhero movies earlier this year, and the animated Batman: The Killing Joke already planning to cash in on the trend with a recently expanded theatrical release, the time might be perfect for studios to allowing some more adult-oriented films in their cinematic worlds.
R-rated films seemed unlikely in the previous superhero movie landscape. Since it’s inevitable that some superhero films would swing that direction, we’ve decided to offer up some suggestions for superhero and comic book movies that wouldn’t just work as R-rated productions, they could thrive with more freedom to go dark and adult-oriented.
X-Force2 of 12X-Force may be the biggest no-brainer on this list. With the success of Deadpool still ringing in Fox’s ears, and its now confirmed sequel ready to introduce introduce Cable and Ryan Reynolds calling X-Force a “priority”, an R-rated X-Force movie seems almost inevitable. Even producer Simon Kinberg admitted it was already being considered by 20th Century Fox.
And besides, if there’s an X-team that could handle a fully R-rated story, it’s the mutant black-ops wing that does the X-Men’s dirty work. Here’s where you get hyper-violent, super-sexualized, and just generally adult-oriented. X-Force could bring back the spirit of movies like Robocop and Terminator that were so huge in the sci-fi/action heyday of the 1980s and 1990s.
The Sandman3 of 12Sex, violence, mystery, fantasy, horror – Neil Gaiman’s epic Sandman had it all. And while a PG-13 experience could approximate the feelings and themes Sandman embodied, going R-rated would embrace the Vertigo spirit that permeated the original comic books.
Bear in mind, an R-rated Sandman wouldn’t be the kind of ultra-violent gorefest many R-rated comic book movies could turn into – it would have to be a lot more tasteful than that. But with an R-rating, it could fully embrace its mythological, metatextual roots without holding back.
Lobo4 of 12If there’s any property that could be seen as DC’s answer to Deadpool, it’s unquestionably Lobo. Think of Wolverine as a wisecracking space-biker, and you’re somewhere close to understanding the Main Man.
Indestructible, hyper-violent, and with a mouth like a whole ship of sailors, Lobo isn’t exactly Justice League material. But for a DC Cinematic Universe that’s edging ever closer to R-rated, the Last Czarnian may be a way for DC to test those waters before braving something like an adults-only Batman experience.
Batman: The Killing Joke5 of 12This one’s kind of a gimme, considering DC’s the animated R-rated version of The Killing Joke coming out this year, but who knows – if it works, maybe we’ll get a live-action version of perhaps the most iconic Batman vs. Joker story ever told.
After all, DC’s not likely to waste its highly publicized new Joker, Jared Leto, on just a supporting role in Suicide Squad. So why not give into the darkness, and bring to life one of the Clown Prince of Crime’s most deadly serious exploits?
Perhaps Ben Affleck’s recently confirmed Batman solo movie could set this up – or at least touch on the story.
Old Man Logan6 of 12If there’s one mainstream character that fans seem to honestly want to see go full R-rated, it’s Wolverine. For a guy who can’t be killed, with knives on his hands, Wolverine’s solo movies have been surprisingly tame. That could all change now that Fox has seen the success Deadpool was able to achieve with an R-rating.
And with the next solo Wolverine story reportedly being Hugh Jackman’s last turn in the role, why not send him out with a bang? A big, hardcore, violent bang? If Fox does indeed go this route, we suggest they adapt “Old Man Logan.” The popular, post-apocalyptic tale of Logan traversing a world ravaged by supervillains may rely on a little too much Marvel-dom (Hulk and Hawkeye play major roles) too be a direct adaptation, but the themes could survive – as could the hardened edge that made the story so popular.
Granted, based on what little we know of the film, it’s looking less and less like that this is the route 20th Century Fox will take, but an older Wolverine might be a good way to recast Wolverine in the least jarring way possible.
The Boys7 of 12Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys takes Watchmen’s approach to all-too-human heroes one step further, fully embracing a world of sex, violence, and over-the-top action. The only problem with making The Boys R-rated is that parts of it might actually have to be toned down.
Following a team of heroes/C.I.A. operatives, The Boys has had its share of controversy from fans and publishers alike – the kind of thing that would get a good adaptation plenty of attention. And, given that it would also break the superhero mold just by virtue of its almost satirical nature, this one’s a shoe-in for a more adult-oriented movie adaptation.
Invincible8 of 12On its face, Invincible may look like your average teen superhero story, but like many of creator Robert Kirkman’s stories, it took a dark turn along the way. Full of the colors and heroics of a Superman-like tale, Invincible isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty with a little sex and violence.
This could be the mass destruction fueled superhero movie audiences are ready for. Where Man of Steel went wrong by making Superman too dark, Invincible could go right by embracing the undercurrent that’s already present on the page. Give us the Viltrumite invasion, and let Omni-Man and his son Mark Grayson go nuts.
Punisher MAX9 of 12OK, Punisher has gotten a few R-rated attempts at films over the years, including 2008’s Punisher: War Zone. What we’re suggesting is Marvel take all the elements that got that movie its R-rating and make it, y’know, good.
Now that Jon Bernthal's Punisher has received a big enough response from his appearance in Daredevil season 2 to warrant his own spin-off, a movie, or at least a much darker take for his own show, could be just the ticket to giving fans a perfect Punisher adaptation.
A solid Punisher movie should be the easiest thing in the world, and yet somehow lightning hasn’t struck for any previous attempts. We’re suggesting that instead of toning down his violence or tempering it with a campy, gonzo attitude, Marvel goes gritty and realistic, taking the aesthetic from its Daredevil TV series and escalating it to its next level.
Hellboy10 of 12Hellboy has gotten two fairly well-received movies already, but the second one in particular erred more on the side of whimsy than horror. So why not go full-on horror movie with a new film? Guillermo del Toro could even still direct it, but have him go completely off the rails with his vision.
In fact, Hellboy’s recent comic book adventures may provide the perfect inspiration for an R-rated film – Red’s been kicking around Hell for the last few years. What’s darker and more sinister than that? Hellboy could go full-on monster slayer, and incorporate some of those seven deadly sins everyone loves so much.
The Authority11 of 12The Authority may be exactly the kind of property that studios looking for more adult-oriented superheroes are craving. It features recognizable archetypes, playing off the well-known characters of teams like the Justice League and the Avengers, but in a context you’ll never see those icons placed in.
Violent, sexual, and way beyond the usual superhero fare, The Authority turned heads and redefined adult superhero comic books when it debuted through WildStorm. And, now that WildStorm falls under DC’s purview, adapting The Authority might be the best way or Warner Bros. to have its cake and eat it too. They’d get their imperfect Superman, their ultra-violent Batman, and more, without having to step on or over many fans’ visions of those characters.
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