R-Rated superhero movies might not be that common, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be. Whether it's recent comments that suggest that the Disney could be open to R-rated Marvel Studios movies (opens in new tab) - meaning that fans of characters like Deadpool and potentially X-Force (opens in new tab) likely have little to fear now that the X-Men's moneymakers are under Marvel's umbrella.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. also seems to be circling the idea of Matt Reeves' in-production The Batman (opens in new tab) taking an R-rating. So, with adult-oriented superhero movies now as strong a draw as their more family friendly counterparts, here's 10 R-rated superhero movies we want to see.
Though any movie plans related to the X-Men must be considered up-in-the-air until Disney’s buyout of 21st Century Fox’s assets is complete, that Disney is open to a potential R-rated superhero movie means an X-Force movie coming to fruition can also still be considered a strong possibility.
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. 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.
9. The Sandman
Sex, 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.
If 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.
With DC expressing openness to an rated-R superhero movie, the natural go-to is director Matt Reeves' solo The Batman film. But we're not looking for a bloodbath. Give us a psychological thriller - a dark detective story, not a slasher film.
Fortunately, given his comments about making a film noir influenced detective mystery Reeves seems to be on the same page in terms of tone - if not rating.
6. Midnight Sons
If Marvel Studios is ever going to go for an R-rating (and we're dubious), perhaps the most obvious corner of their universe to go more mature with is in their currently unused horror characters. Instead of just one, why not a whole team of them?
Enter Midnight Sons. Like a Guardians of the Galaxy surprise entrant but for Marvel's horror corner, Midnight Sons could take the spellcraft of Doctor Strange and the maturity of the Netflix shows, pushing Marvel into the horror movie realm while still keeping it quintessentially Marvel.
Blade's already returning, so why not as part of his own R-rated feature film? Remember, 1998's Blade (also rated-R) was a surprise hit and presaged the current comic book movie boom. Ghost Rider has shown up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the showrunner himself said the character is too expensive to use long-term - and actor Gabriel Luna said his character coming to the big screen is a possibility.
Add in Werewolf by Night, Jennifer Kale, and possibly Hellstrom, and you have an interesting team. And if you think Disney doesn't release horror films, you're forgetting they released similar adult fare like Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, and Sin City through various subsidiary companies.
Don't sleep on Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Sleeper.
Spinning out of DC's WildStorm universe, it's the story of an undercover secret agent who infiltrated a criminal organization but got too deep; when looking for a way out, he found out his handler - the only man who could help him out - was in a coma.
It's Donnie Brasco in the superhero genre, written by Ed "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Brubaker to boot. You can see why Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Sam Raimi have all circled the project in the past few years.
In the modern movie landscape with superheroes big business and throwback action films like John Wick catching fire, Sleeper would be the best of both worlds - but would need that R rating not to rob it of its teeth.
On its face, Invincible may look like your average teen superhero story, but like many of co-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.
Seth Rogen and Even Goldberg previously signed on to write and direct a film version of Invincible, however those plans evolved into an animated series scheduled to air on Amazon in 2020. Here's hoping it doesn't shy away from the tone of the comic book.
Writer Mark Waid and artists Peter Krause and Diego Barreto's Irredeemable tells the story of the Plutonian, a cosmically powerful alien superhero who suddenly becomes the worst villain of all time, resulting in the deaths of millions.
Irredeemable would be the perfect movie for fans of the idea of Superman taking on the entire Justice League - though in this case, the fact that the story and characters are built for that kind of carnage is a leg up for an R-rated superhero movie.
A film adaptation was already in the works at 20th Century Fox as of 2016 with The Big Short director Adam McKay attached to helm. With any luck they'll see the potential for a fully realized R-rated take on the story.
2. Moon Knight
If there's any non-X-Men Marvel hero right for an R-rated film adaptation, it's gotta be Moon Knight. The psychologically haunted Marc Spector is exactly the kind of hero that Marvel could squeeze into the MCU in the gap between its movies and TV shows, presenting a street level story with big screen weirdness in a way that the studio hasn't done before.
Given Moon Knight's dark origins, the psychological horror nature of his backstory, and the often violent nature of his superheorics, Moon Knight could be exactly what Marvel Studios needs to push its boundaries again.
Over the years, more than one credible filmmaker has come forward with a desire to direct a Moon Knight movie. Perhaps it's just a matter of Marvel finding the right person for the job at the right time...
1. The Authority
The 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.