The record breaking success of 20th Century Fox's Deadpool caught even the rosiest optimists off guard, as the film quickly became the highest-grossing R-rated comic book movie of all-time. Its performance suggests that filmmakers now have the leeway to work outside of the usual PG-13 confines in the genre, illustrating that audiences will go out and support more adult-orientated projects - especially when the explicit content fits the character being adapted.
Hollywood is a copycat league, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that in the wake of Deadpool's lucrative commercial run, there's been discussion about even more R-rated superhero films. Fox in particular seems very keen on the idea, with a pamphlet they distributed at the New York Toy Fair indicating that the studio is aiming for an R for the upcoming Wolverine 3 - reportedly Hugh Jackman's last go-around as the famous mutant. Now, there's more evidence to suggest that's the case.
THR is citing industry insiders claiming that it was always the intention to make Wolverine 3 R; the script by Michael Green featuring strong amounts of violence (and possible language). Even if that was the plan, the $507.8 million amassed by Deadpool (as of this writing) certainly make that an easier avenue to pursue. There has been much interest in making a Wolverine solo film R rated, and it's something longtime fans of the character would like to see before Jackman hangs up the claws.
Before viewers get excited by the possibility of Jackman's Old Man Logan unleashing extreme carnage on screen, it's important to keep in mind that there were discussions about making the first two Wolverine standalone films R rated as well. Obviously, in both instances, the studio went with the more inclusive PG-13 in an effort to increase ticket sales and audience appeal. It comes with an amusing twist of irony then, that Deadpool has outgrossed 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine and 2013's The Wolverine at the box office despite being in theaters for just 11 days. A lion's share of the credit has to be given to Deadpool's stellar promotional campaign and strong critical reviews, but it does show that the PG-13 rating isn't always all it's cracked up to be.
With all that in mind, there's still a chance that Fox ultimately decides to go with PG-13 for Wolverine 3, keeping in line with the character's other appearances in the franchise. For 16 years, films that include Wolverine have been marketed to that particular demographic and have acquired a fan base that includes a wide age range. To cut off a younger crowd now might be disheartening for those viewers, who are excited to see Jackman in his iconic role once again. It is plausible that the theatrical cut may ultimately end up being PG-13, with a more hardcore version saved for the home media release. This was the case with The Wolverine, which had the Unleashed Extended Edition on Blu-ray.
For the time being, however, all signs are pointing towards Wolverine 3 being R-rated. It's something that both Jackman and director James Mangold want to do, and Fox most likely would not have advertised the possibility at a convention unless they felt there was a good chance of it happening. Time will tell as fans await official confirmation from the studio, but it looks like the success of Deadpool has convinced executives R-rated Wolverine would be a wise business decision.
Deadpool is now in theaters; X-Men: Apocalypse opens on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and an unannounced X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants and Deadpool 2 are also in development.