Fox, the studio behind the X-Men movies, have revealed that they plan to make the next Wolverine film R-Rated. This could be the first in a series of R-Rated comic book adaptations and comes as little surprise after the enormous success of Deadpool, which smashed numerous records on its opening weekend. In fact an article on this site covering the announcement of a sequel to Deadpool ended with speculation that an R-Rated Wolverine film could be a possibility (see here for the original piece).
There is no need for any superhero film to go for an R-Rating just for the sake of it but certain characters and properties would benefit and Wolverine is a perfect character to be granted more freedom on screen. His claws can cut through most materials yet the amount of bodily harm inflicted upon villains in his current screen appearances has generally been reduced to suggestion and there has been a distinct lack of blood. The comic book version of the character has struggled with his more bestial side, often giving in to his beserker rage and slashing wildly at enemies, which has yet to be captured properly on film (although the mansion invasion scene in X2 came close).
Finally it should be noted that Wolverine stories have included violence and ‘adult’ subject matter for years, with material such as murder, drug rings and child abuse having been tackled during the character’s long life. One of Hugh Jackman’s favourite stories is titled Old Man Logan and involves an alternate future in which our Canadian hero has turned away from violence after having been tricked into murdering all of the X-Men.
Rumours concerning an X-Force (think hardcore X-Men) movie being R-Rated have also emerged and there are other characters who could benefit. The vampire hunter Blade, previously a film trilogy starring Wesley Snipes, comes armed with a sword and must deal with his own bloodlust while vigilantes such as the Punisher (who has had several less-than-stellar appearances on the big-screen and is soon to debut on Netflix’s Daredevil Season 2) lend themselves to over-the-top action and darker storylines. It would be shocking and highly unlikely for characters such as Spider-man and Captain America to ever rate above PG-13 level as there is simply no need or sound reasoning for this to happen. Simply put, if the rating could bring about a better story and adaptation, then studios should no longer be afraid to risk limiting their market by appealing to a more mature audience as there can still be success. R-Rated superhero comic book adaptations did exist before the Marvel Cinematic Universe dominated the blockbuster season and it seems now is the time for them to return. One can only hope the rating is not only justified but is joined by good acting, great action, a solid story and a wonderful team behind the camera and doesn’t just become an excuse to slice and dice and swear for the sake of it.