Why There Will Probably Never Be an R-Rated MCU Film

Since Deadpool and Logan proved that R-rated superhero movies could be hits, fans have wondered if there could ever be an R-rated MCU movie. The short answer is, with Disney owning Marvel, probably not. 

The longer answer is, it might be possible, but Disney would have to jump through a few hoops first. As things stand, Disney/Marvel may have already announced that movie. It’s called Blade. And the reason that might be rated R is that the original Blade was. 

Marvel/Fox proved R-rated superhero movies can succeed 

Avengers: Endgame cast in front of an Avengers backdrop
Joe Russo, Paul Rudd, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Trinh Tran and Anthony Russo | Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Disney

The conventional wisdom in Hollywood is “Thou shalt never release an R-rated superhero movie.” As much as some fans protest otherwise, Hollywood sees superhero movies as a big draw for families. Superhero movies can also fit what’s called a four-quadrant hit – a movie that appeals to every age group and gender. Although some MCU movies might be too intense for young children, part of the reason they’re such big hits is that parents can bring the kids. They wouldn’t be as huge as they are otherwise. 

In the comics, however, stories and characters can and often do tread into more violent fare. The movie that truly opened the floodgates for mainstream R-rated superhero movies was Deadpool, which stunned even Fox by grossing $363 million in 2016. That opened the door for the even more ambitious Logan, the capper to Wolverine’s story.  Previous X-Men movies had been rated PG-13. Logan was a big commercial and critical hit, earning $226 million and netting an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. 

Those movies were released by Fox before Disney bought the studio and renamed it Twentieth Century. For Deadpool 3, the solution is simple enough: release it through the 20th Century Banner with all the blood and profanity fans want. But Deadpool started outside the MCU. What about the properties Kevin Feige controls?

What do fans hope for from Disney?

On Reddit, fans noted that DC and Warner Bros. have already made this leap. Birds of Prey, the Harley Quinn standalone movie that sprang from Suicide Squad, was rated PG-13. However, Birds of Prey’s box office has been disappointing. Despite Margot Robbie’s performance, it’s also not the big hit that the studio was hoping for. On the other hand, the R-rated Joker, while not in the same universe as Birds of Prey, was a huge hit. Joker scored major Oscar nominations, winning Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix.

All this prompted fans to wonder if Marvel could make a movie based on the comic A-Force, Marvel’s own female superhero team, and that could be R-rated too. 

However, one fan said, “People should stop using DC as a metric for what the MCU should do. The success of Joker should not encourage Marvel to start pumping out R-rated movies and the success or failure of Birds of Prey should not affect the future of an A-Force movie.”

What about Blade?

At Comic-Con last year, Kevin Feige brought Mahershala Ali onstage and announced he’s starring in a new version of Blade, and the crowds went wild. The only thing was, there were no details about the movie. There is no release date, and the movie was not part of the Phase 4 lineup that runs from this year through 2021. 

However, when New Line Cinema made the movie in 1998 with Wesley Snipes, it was R-rated. So were its two sequels: Blade II and Blade: Trinity. So wouldn’t it follow that the MCU’s Blade would have to be R-rated? 

CinemaBlend doesn’t think so; opining that they’ll pull the presumed maneuver that Deadpool 3 would and release it through Twentieth Century. “The Walt Disney Company will never make an R-rated movie, full stop, the site said. “That same attitude will extend to production shingles such as Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Studios as well because those members of the Disney family have hard PG-13 ceilings.”

Still, as the cliche goes, there’s a first time for everything.