There’s been quite a discussion online about whether comics-related films should be rated “R” or not. I’ve been holding back some on it until I gathered my thoughts together, but now I’m ready to try and get some discussion going on the topic! So here goes!

DEADPOOL

Profane, F-bomb, Batman, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Negan, AMC, Walking Dead, Lobo, mnemonic, spell, R rated, G rated, PG rated, Punisher, MarvelUntil the recent success of Marvel’s Deadpool feature film, comic-related movies were rated mostly “G” or “PG,” meaning most likely family fare. The perception is that comics are for kids, and it has been for decades now. However, Deadpool’s take has caused a lot of moviemakers to reconsider that.

I have to admit that I don’t care for the F-bomb or the more profane language I’ve run across in some films. I don’t think this kind of thing enhances the story much, if at all. I was raised to think that words like that are much less creative than other choices, and using them reflects a lack of ability or vocabulary. I know many don’t agree with me on that point. I once had a roommate who thought the F-bomb was the height of creativity … until his girl friend informed him otherwise.

I did read some of the Deadpool comics for a while, entertained by his unusual use of language. This is exemplified by phrases like “hankerin’ for a spankerin’” and the like. I read the title for about three issues, but even that wore down on me, so I stopped reading them.

Now along has come a motion picture based on the comics, and it’s been rated “R,” and it made a lot of money. We can be sure at this point that there will be a sequel, and it will likely be more F-bomb-ed than the first because projects like this have to keep outdoing themselves.

Still, the question is, why make a movie that’s rated “R?”

THE ‘R’ RATED AMONG US

I’ve met several people who, like my former roommate, think profanity is the height of humor. If something offends others, then that’s funny! I don’t personally buy into that philosophy, but I know plenty of guys and gals who do. Just as there are some who won’t attend if a film is rated “R,” there are those who won’t go if a movie is “G” or “PG.”

When it comes to films, an “R” rating often makes movie-goers think it will be “provocative” or “edgy,” one that won’t appeal to the general population, and that’s what they’re looking for, frankly! If kids or the folks who don’t care for the F-bomb won’t plunk down their hard-earned money to see a film, why, that makes it PERFECT for them!

Granted, the size of that audience is considered by many in the industry to be smaller than those who prefer “G” of “PG” films. But those people are also very devoted, so what they may lack in numbers, they can make up for in dedication!

The notion also exists that “R” motion pictures can tell broader, more unusual stories. After all, you’re less likely to know what they’re going to do when it comes to plot, right? You can chop off a person’s head or hands, after all, so why not?

‘R’-RATED NEGAN

Profane, F-bomb, Batman, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Negan, AMC, Walking Dead, Lobo, mnemonic, spell, R rated, G rated, PG rated, Punisher, MarvelPeople who follow AMC’s The Walking Dead are likely to know that there’s an interesting controversy going on about the introduction of Negan, a foul-languaged baddie who’s about to appear on the series.

From what I’ve read, they’ve filmed two versions of his appearances – one with a LOT of F-bombs and one without. They’re going to let AMC make the decision as to which version will air.

Fans who have read the comics often feel he should be allowed to drop as many F-bombs as possible because that’s true to the character. I’ve read those comics, but I don’t agree. There are ways to make someone menacing without resorting to this language.

I know, I know – it’s weird that I am more concerned with language than I am about zombies and their heads getting chopped off! Maybe it’s just me, but I happen to think words are more powerful than visuals, at least in this case!

‘R’-RATED COMICS

As part of this discussion, I see more and more people saying that comics should be “R” as well as films! After all, the majority of fans are adults (in a good way), particularly when it comes to buying and reading the books.

Deadpool and Punisher and other “R”-rated “heroes” have a certain appeal, but they seem to come and go when it pertains to comics sales.

Of course, DC has had Lobo, and my favorite of his outings was a miniseries in which he was forced to “spell or die!” Keith Giffen and company did a hilarious job, especially if you are into words, of making that a true “funny” book. One word that someone was supposed to be spelled was “mnemonic,” which has a silent “m” at the beginning. Of course, the person who was asked to spell it didn’t know that, so it was started with an “n.” BLAM, an immediate shot to the head was the response. Hey, when it comes to words, I’m a little more open when it comes to punishing those who cannot spell correctly, pun intended!

SO, HOW DO WE HANDLE ‘R’-RATINGS?

F-BombI know this is probably going to sound like something of a cop-out, but it seems to me that the language should fit the situation. If you’re dealing with profane people, then let them speak profanely or do radically violent things. If not, use “G” or “PG” alternatives.

I still think we have to remember that occasionally younger readers get comics in their hands. I think warning labels are very important, something like “Mature Readers Only.”

Hopefully, we can keep the level of language as high as possible. If Batman or Spider-Man were to suddenly start dropping F-bombs all over the place or shooting bad guys in the head, I’d have a problem with that. The level of vocabulary and activity in comics has been estimated to be as a high-school one, and not a dropout!

Okay, so Deadpool was a financial success and rated “R.” Should ALL comic-related movies be “R,” or even comics? My vote is no, let’s only have that take place when it feels appropriate, and then only sparingly.

What do you think? Should more comics and comic-related films be “R”-rated? Please share your thoughts below!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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4 Comments

  1. March 14, 2016 at 10:43 am — Reply

    It really depends on the target audience. I definitely oppose the idea that Comic book movie means “family” Most comics these days are targeted towards adults. Adults are the only ones that can afford them. If the movie has adult themes then they should be Rated R. That being said, I dislike the idea that there will be a R rated version of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of the Dark Knight Returning. I don’t want a Superman movie that doesn’t target kids and try to teach them good moral values like the character should do.

    • March 14, 2016 at 11:00 am — Reply

      ZARANBLACK, you did a great job of pointing out what the industry faces today. “Family” to R-rated is what they’re struggling with, appreciate your post!

  2. HipHopHead
    March 14, 2016 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Great point for discussion.

    Should more comics and comic-related films be “R”-rated? No…to “more” comics and comic-related films being “R-rated.

    I think the comic book industry has more than enough adult themed titles, in many genres. I prefer when a major publisher (DC/Marvel) creates a sub-imprint like Vertigo or Max. This allows the consumer to choose whether the adult themes is something they wish to see in their comics. Characters like the Punisher and Preacher need to told in a setting which allows the creators to tell a more interesting story.

    Could the movie industry have made a PG Deadpool? Would it have been as entertaining as the version released?

    I would also argue, Pixar has made “comic-book” movies over the years and none of them have been “R”-rated. Does anyone expect Pixar to make an “R”-rated movie with the success of Deadpool? The Christopher Nolan trilogy of Batman movies were not “R”-rated, but the movies did have violence without the gore or language. I believe most people (who read the comics) were not offended by Nolan’s decision (?) not “ratcheting” up the violence.

    America loves Sachs and Violens or is it Sex and Violence…either way it sells.

    P.S. there are too many over-the-air television shows that are “R”-rated or should be “R”-rated

    • March 14, 2016 at 10:59 am — Reply

      Terrific points you’re making there, HIPHOPHEAD! I particularly agree with your points on Vertigo and Max imprints!

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