Hugh Jackman & Co. Explain Why ‘The Wolverine’ Doesn’t Need To Be Rated R

Published 2 years ago by

Hugh Jackman Sword Claws Empire Japanese Cover Hugh Jackman & Co. Explain Why The Wolverine Doesnt Need To Be Rated R

Back before Hugh Jackman got his first self-titled Wolverine spinoff movie after the X-Men trilogy, there were reports matching speculation that Fox could greenlight its first R rated X-Men film. Going back eight years, writer David Benioff (Game of Thrones) had every intention of making his script rated R but in the end X-Men Origins: Wolverine released as PG-13, banking as much as it could in theaters for Fox before the studio changed up the formula for the franchise going forward in response to the negative critical reception to X-Men 3 and the first series spinoff.

For the mostly standalone sequel, The Wolverine, the same discussion surfaced and those involved are absolutely interested in the idea of an R-rated Hugh Jackman unleashing adamantium claws on his enemies while embracing his berserker rage.

While on the Australian sets of The Wolverine in October, we discussed the rating with star Hugh Jackman, director James Mangold, producer Hutch Parker, and second unit director David Leitch, who would all love – much like some Marvel Comics readers would- to see Jackman’s Wolverine unleashed, so to speak.

Would the content and action sequences in The Wolverine lend itself better to an R rating? Jackman has the best answer:

“We talked about it. Darren and I talked about it. Jim and I talked about it. The studio and I talked about it. By the way, they were open to that idea because if you’re ever going to make a real character R-rated, Wolverine’s the one, and I can… part of me would just love to indulge in the freedom that that gives you. On the same point, and I worked with him, but I’m forever grateful to Chris Nolan because I think what he’s shown is actually the R-rating is not necessary to give you a satisfying, smart, dark, emotionally complex story. All I said to Darren and I said to Jim, I said, ‘It’s tempting , could be great.’ Obviously, the samurai elements, and you think of the history of blood spattering and all of that, the visuals, all of that, which is so tempting, I can’t tell you in the last 10 years how many 11, 13, 15 year olds, 17 year-olds that I’ve met that it’s not just ‘cool movie, man,’ what it means to them. And so, I say, we’ve gotta have an incredible reason to deliberately exclude them, because that’s what we’re saying. We’re saying, ‘This is not for you,’ or ‘you can watch it in six years’ time. I mean, of course, they’ll all watch it anyway. But the message is, ‘This is not for you.’ And I just said, ‘In the end, actually, everything we wanted to do with an R-rated version, we are doing in terms of who the character is.’ So, yeah. One more?

The reasoning is sound and is consistent with Jackman’s explanation to MTV earlier last year about desiring an R rating but knowing it’s not necessary to deliver the same character story, action sequences and themes.

wolverine logan ninjas chain 570x382 Hugh Jackman & Co. Explain Why The Wolverine Doesnt Need To Be Rated R

We asked producer Hutch Parker about the rating, knowing how much more visceral and bloody the film is versus previous X-Men franchise installments.

“I don’t know what I’d put the rating, but it’s definitely Wolverine unleashed. It’s much rawer, much more visceral. In pushing down Wolverine you can expect and will be, I hope, satisfied by how much more of the berserker you see.

He’s fighting more desperately in this and I think the challenges he faces, both internal and external, are deeper challenges and as a result it provokes a more rageful and berserker Wolverine, so it’s certainly our intention to fulfill that. I think the comic book does and that’s certainly the intention of the film.”

We also chatted with second unit director David Leitch about the subject since he’s heavily involved with some of the key action sequences in the film, and has a background in martial arts, stunt choreography and more, even doubling as the stunt man for Jeremy Renner in films including The Bourne Legacy and helping direct the second unit of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. He told us on the journey to the set that he’d love to see a second R rated version of The Wolverine release, promising the the action in this flick delivers.

As for the man in charge himself, director James Mangold

“Well, I want to be careful about the words I’m using only because it has a lot of power one way or another, influencing all sorts of people. I want to make a more gripping, intense film. I feel like that—and I think you know what I mean, and I think the reality is that this character is built – he’s not Superman. He has limits, but one thing he has built into him that’s a part of his character is anger, and the anger of being forever, the anger of being misunderstood, the anger of being a mutant, the anger of being damaged, the anger of the losses he’s suffered in this incredibly long life he’s already lived, the anger of the fuck-ups of humanity that he gets to watch us do over and over again. Those things I want living and breathing in his character, in his action, in his interactions with other people, and also in the way we depict action in the movie, which is that less fanciful, more gritty, more urgent, and more real in the sense that you want it to feel like it’s not straining the bounds of credulity every moment that action is happening.”

Not unlike writer Christopher McQuarrie explaining that The Wolverine script is his best work, the in-development-hell Deadpool spinoff film also has a highly praised screenplay that earns a hard R. Will Fox take that risk one day or at the very least, offer a special edition re-release, whether in theaters or home video that includes such a thing?

The Wolverine is directed by James Mangold off of Mark Bomback and Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay. It stars Hugh Jackman, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Rila Fukushima.

Stay tuned for our set reports and full interview with Hugh Jackman.


The Wolverine hits theaters July 26, 2013. X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters on July 18th, 2014.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your X-Men movie info.

Follow Rob Keyes on Twitter @rob_keyes
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Pandering to 11 year olds? Sure, why not. A PG-13 rating? Sure, why not. I’d love to see an R rating but none of this matters if the movie is made well. I have my doubts, but we’ll see. Hoping for the best.

  2. I was hoping for an R-rating. I think wolverine and deadpool are two characters that deserve an R-rated movie. However, I understand where Hugh and the director are coming from. Violence is a part of who wolverine is. The blood and gore is driven by his rage. In the comics, Japan is where he learned to control the animal inside of him. If they succeed in showing the contrast between his two sides, I will be happy. I don’t think an R rating is necessary to do that.

  3. Nope, Fox will never take that risk. Move on, nothing to see here.

  4. Aww r rated wolverine would have been so bad ass

  5. Let Tarantino do just one.

    • your comment made chuckle….

    • I would rather see Tarantino do a Lobo movie than a Wolverine..

  6. Agreed, Wolverine would of made a great first “rated R” marvel film.

    • Blade (a Marvel character) was R rated, I think… and it had an African American protagonist… and it was successful.
      ^ Movie studios, take note ^
      Fox, give us Deadpool, and Marvel, give us Black Panther!

      • Well said.

      • That never happened, look over there at that shiny thing…..

  7. Wolverine doesn’t need to be R rated, but it sure as hell doesn’t need to be at Fox Studios. Send it back to Marvel already!

  8. No ‘R’ for Bats or Wolverine or any of the kid favorites. Not just box office from a reduced audience age, but also exhibition issues, merchandising problems, a mess of legalese and agreements to negotiate going from PG-13 to R. Not to mention some parents will simply not let their children see an R movie – Parental guidance or not.

    They just don’t do it. Its costs a LOT of money to go to R, and it costs a LOT of money to make these movies. Personally I’d rather them put the money into the film rather than losing audience.

    Going from PG-13 to R will half your budget. Its just the way it is.

    So, they invented the “hard” PG-13, which basically means black/invisible blood, cleaned up language, and fewer kicks to the head, etc. Whatever it takes to sneak it past the gatekeepers at the MPAA.

    Now – Deadpool requires a R, but it also comes with the understanding this means working within the confines of an R rating from the scriptwriting phase, budgeting, production, and finally post. This can be done for a minor property with niche appeal, particularly because the niche is clamoring for an R rating for this property.

    This will never be the case for Wolverine, he will always have to be somewhat “toned-down” to make PG-13. The property is too valuable not to open it to the widest possible audience.

    • Yep, business wise it is not a gamble studios are willing to make. Blade was the exception & that was before the current trend with comic book based films

    • that’s the problem and that’s whats hurting the character and the box office. if your dumbass doesn’t believe that an r rated full throttle wolverine wouldn’t do well in the box office, then you need to go back in time and live in the 1950′s. wolverines appeal has always been his violent nature and toughness. that’s why he was the #1 selling hero in the late 80′s and all of the 90′s. none of the fox films demonstrate this because they’re a bunch of pussies like you.

  9. I suppose cinematic historians will look back at this time and call it the “Nolan Era”

  10. Lots of Wolverine news today…

    • Yeap, the embargo lifted today at noon on all Wolverine set visit stuff.

  11. If they can make the movie with no R rating ,and still have it be a great experience that doesn’t take away from the character, then kudos to them!

    A movie doesn’t need to be violent and gory if the same effect and message can be expressed through other methods.

    For example, I want to see a RAW Wolverine. A Wolverine that’s the best there is at what he does, even though what he does isn’t very nice.
    In the previous movies, the closest we came to that was a f-you in a cameo appearance (all the other times, he was way too toned down), but if they can give us that “RAW Wolverine” without blood and guts everywhere, I say go for it. It’s gonna be more difficult that way though… but still…

    Also, I really like what Jackman has to say about all this. It seems he really has respect for the fans and the character, and that, imo, makes him a stand up guy – despite all the unnecessary hate he gets from fans.

    • he will have been in 7 films as wolverine, plus all the other stuff the dude has done(may win an oscar for les mis) RDJ should take some note and not be so GD greedy with the paychecks.
      i guess the difference is that HJ has not gotten “character burnout” like RDJ seems to.

      • Well, I think it’s quite an assumption to say RDJ is being greedy. Of course I doubt he’ll want less than what he’s been getting so far (which is understandable: who wants to do the same job, for less money when there are other opportunities out there?), but there are also rumors saying that he’s trying to negotiate better deals for his cast-mates as well (like Hemsworth who got 500 000 from The Avengers).
        Point is, we don’t have all the facts about what’s going on there. There’s a lot of rumors, a lot of misinformation and a lot of uncertainty from both sides.

        One thing we do know for certain though, is that RDJ has been in 5 Marvel movies (cameo included) within 6 years, whereas Jackman has been in 6 movies (cameo included) within 13 years.
        As far as ratios go, I’d say RDJ has been working a little harder ;)

  12. I’ll definitely admit that a movie doesn’t need to be rated R to be good, but I sure was annoyed when Mortal Kombat had the blood removed when ported to SNES. The violence was part of the appeal, and the end product left something to be desired.

    Having said that, I think it all depends on what the subject matter is and how it relates to the character(s). I don’t like when gratuitous violence/swearing/nudity are thrown into movies just to appeal to certain audiences though.

    In the end, it would be cool if they released a PG-13 version in theatres, and a version with a little more blood/violence in an unrated home version.

  13. hugh is both an awesome guy and actor but not even his sincere and positive attitude can cover up the fact that they only made this m (or pg13) for sales, he even said it himself. a bummer b/c i dont think we will ever truly see that side of wolverine b/c i it is something that requires the swearing, brutality and much darker tone (which none of the movies had).

    wolverine 2 captured some of this bad a**ness with the school raid scene, but again that was very tame in comparison to the wolverine i know (and love).

  14. What a load of crap. The film is going to be hampered by the stupid ratings board and their crap PG-13. You can show far more blood and guts on BROADCAST TELEVISION! The current ratings system is hopelessly broken.

  15. There should definitely be an “unrated” version for characters like Deadpool, Blade, Punisher, and Wolverine. Even if it surfaces after the theatrical release. I want to cringe.

  16. hey guys. most of you were wrong. they made a special R-rated version for blu-ray

    • I actually wanna see the R Rated version, I mean, let’s face it, it’s more fun that way