‘Deadpool’: The Strange Debate Over the Movie’s R-Rating

Source: 20th Century Fox

Source: 20th Century Fox

Deadpool has been at the center of a lot of discussions for a number of reasons. Everything about the Ryan Reynolds-led anti-hero movie has been anything but typical. The whole project would never have happened if test footage hadn’t leaked to the public. Following the leak, fan response was so overwhelmingly positive, 20th Century Fox went ahead and gave it a green light without hesitation. From there, things have only gotten weirder, from the adherence to the insane comic source material, to the delightfully bizarre promotion cycle. More than any of this though, the biggest debate has revolved around its R-rating.

It’s of course no surprise to anyone that Deadpool was officially given its “Restricted” rating from the MPAA recently. We’ve already seen two red-band trailers that teased at gratuitous violence and harsh language, while Ryan Reynolds himself has been advertising the possibility on Twitter in the very early stages of production. Fans of the comic would argue that you simply can’t make a Deadpool movie with anything less than an R-rating. Even so, it hasn’t slowed a new movement toward something entirely peculiar.

It comes from YouTube personality and former Marvel writer Grace Randolph, who’s introduced a petition asking 20th Century Fox to make a PG-13 cut of DeadpoolHer reasoning is rooted in the request of Matthew, an 8-year-old fan of Randolph’s “Beyond the Trailer” YouTube series, who wrote a letter to his mom asking to see the movie. Randolph argues that Fox should alter their current course, in favor of releasing a version of the movie that would be decidedly more kid-friendly. But as adorable as Matthew’s plea was, it doesn’t justify an entirely new cut of a movie that’s releasing in just under a month.

Where the plea goes wrong initially is in citing 20th Century Fox’s use of both a red-band and “regular” trailer. Yes, it’s not hard to edit out the gore and swearing for a two- to three-minute trailer. But to ask a studio to set aside time and resources in the 11th hour to cut together what would amount to an entirely different movie is ludicrous. Not for nothing, Matthew isn’t going to have any shortage of PG and PG-13 superhero movies to see in 2016, with a group that includes Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Suicide Squad. 

More than all this though, Deadpool was never meant to be a movie for children. The entire cycle of this film has been all about retaining loyalty to the source material, and releasing a PG-13 version alongside the normal cut would compromise everything Deadpool aspires to be. With just a couple exceptions (because for some reason, they made two Punisher movies), virtually every comic book movie has made an effort to appeal to the widest possible audience. This is the one instance in which the demographic has been narrowed to mature adults, so let’s not cheapen that by trying to figure out how we can make this movie more appealing to small children.

It’s worth clarifying that for the most part, the key demos of comics are kids and teens, and we absolutely accept that. Incidentally, it’s part of what’s made the rise of the superhero movie so fun and exciting. Deadpool represents a refreshing break from the mainstream though, and any version that’s anything less than irreverent is worse off for it in the end.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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