When a movie has the sort of unprecedented success that Deadpool has had — now the highest grossing R-rated comic book film of all time — it’s bound to start a trend. What exactly that trend will be remains to be seen, but we and others — including Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn — hope the trend is more superhero movies that are original and willing to take risks, and not movies that are rated R simply for the sake of it.
But regardless of whether or not Deadpool ushers in some raunchy superhero movie renaissance, the vast majority of superhero movies will remain in the PG to PG-13 window. That’s the case with 2016’s next superhero release: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which the ‘Son of Krypton’ will do battle with the ‘Bat of Gotham’ in a brawl that comes with some very high expectations. However epic this superhero showdown may be, the film was obviously able to secure a PG-13 rating, so there’s a limit to just how brutal their fight can be.
Unless, by chance, there was an R-rated version of the film that potentially included scenes considered too violent for Batman V Superman‘s theatrical release, then we’d have some idea of just how brutal a fight between Superman and Batman could be. Which is exactly what is being suggested by these tweets from Disney scooper, Stitch Kingdom, that BvS‘s Blu-ray release will include an R-rated cut of the film:
#BatmanvSuperman Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition Blu-ray rated R for sequences of violence— Stitch Kingdom (@stitchkingdom) February 24, 2016
A bulletin listing the MPAA’s recent film ratings further confirms an R-rated cut for the DC movie. Indeed, an R-rated cut of Batman V Superman doesn’t sound at all outrageous — quite the opposite, in fact, an R-rated cut of BvS is a brilliant idea. The theatrical cut remains PG-13 and available to a wider audience, while the R-rated cut of the film becomes a major incentive to buy the Blu-ray. It’s no secret that watching Superman and Batman trading blows is the real draw of BvS, so why wouldn’t Zack Snyder have spent the time making their fight as brutal and intense as he could, with plans to cut as needed to get that PG-13 rating.
Snyder has even already set a precedent for this practice. When the Ultimate Edition of Watchmen was released it featured an even harder R-rated cut, containing footage that was decidedly more mature for both its violence and sexual content. The same was recently true of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition Blu-ray, which earned the previously PG-13-rated film an R rating for violence. Why not plan on doing something similar for Batman V Superman‘s Ultimate Edition? According to the above clipping, BvS‘s R-rated cut also earns its rating for sequences of violence, which would make sense if Snyder filmed Batman and Superman’s rumble as the no holds barred match he’s been pitching all along.
Still, it’s hard not to draw a correlation between this report and Deadpool’s remarkable success, what with the potential for more R-rated superhero films being such a hot topic. Though again, if an R-rated cut of Batman V Superman does exist, Snyder would have obviously had to have already filmed the material that earns it an R. So, while Deadpool‘s record-breaking opening couldn’t have had any effect on BvS during filming, it easily could have Warner Bros. considering the idea (and the profits) of releasing an R-rated version at a later date.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, which is followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.