It’s generally considered all-but 100 percent certain that Marvel Studios won’t allow one of its MCU films to be rated R, at least not anytime in the foreseeable future. On a business level, that stance is completely understandable. All 14 MCU movies to date have been rated PG-13, and every single one of them – aside from early 2008 effort The Incredible Hulk – has been a massive financial success. Most have been a hit with critics as well. Still, that hasn’t stopped dedicated superhero fans from wondering what an R-rated MCU entry might look like.
While Marvel Studios remains against the idea at present, 20th Century Fox has made the bold move of venturing into the mostly uncharted world of R-rated superhero films, not once but twice. Fox’s first experiment with R-rated superhero movies was of course last February’s Deadpool, which shocked basically everyone by not only being a critical darling, but a next-level money maker for the studio. Made on a budget of $58 million, Deadpool went on to earn nearly $800 million worldwide, and a sequel is officially on the way, rumored to arrive in 2018.
Fox’s second foray into R-rated, decidedly not watered down or family friendly superhero tales is James Mangold’s Logan, which hits theaters this weekend. The third installment in Fox’s Wolverine solo trilogy, Logan features Hugh Jackman’s final performance in the role that made him a household name, as well as Patrick Stewart’s last planned hurrah as Professor X. Like Deadpool, Logan has been a critical hit so far, and it looks like the film’s R-rating is nothing less than an asset. According to Deadline, a recent Fandango survey found that 71 percent of moviegoers want more R-rated superhero movies, and 86 percent are excited to see a more adult-oriented take on the X-Men world.
While Logan is unlikely to end up with as huge a profit margin as Deadpool – due to its considerably higher budget of $127 million – the chances of it not bringing in big money for Fox at the end of the day are slim, with early industry projections putting the film’s worldwide opening weekend take at around $170 million. That wipes out the budget deficit with room to spare, and if the film possesses the level of staying power its reviews suggest, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see it end up alongside Deadpool as one of the most successful R-rated films of all-time.
Will Logan’s likely box office success help convince Marvel Studios – or Warner Bros/DC for that matter – to bring an R-rated edge to their respective cinematic universes? It’s too early to tell, but if Logan matches Deadpool’s box office haul, it’s hard to imagine that other Hollywood heavyweights won’t sit up and take notice of what Fox is accomplishing, especially since the above survey indicates that R-rated superheroes are what the people want.