Putting the R in Marvel

Photo by Ben Rothstein

Hugh Jackman stars as Logan in the Marvel film Logan.

Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first started with the premiere of Iron Man in 2008, the darker and grittier side of Marvel comics hasn’t been shown enough.

Even when Fox was in charge of the X-Men, for the most part, the mutants weren’t given the dark storylines they’re known for and that didn’t do the comics justice.

In the nineties, Marvel sold the film rights to many of their characters because they were having financial issues. This includes the rights to the X-Men and Deadpool.

December of last year, Marvel acquired the film rights for the X-Men back from Fox.

In terms of team movies, the X-Men vs. the Avengers, the X-Men won in terms of grit, just like they do in the comics, though there could always be improvement.

In the first X-Men movie, it’s mutant vs. mutant. The X-Men vs. the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  While in the first Avengers movie, it’s the Avengers fighting aliens.

In the last two years, Fox has dipped into Marvel’s potential. There’s so much more to Marvel comics than the high-morale Captain America and Scott Summers.

It’s more than the average and simple super-hero storylines where everything turns out fine and the hero saves the day with no deaths and no blood shown.

So, fans were elated to find out that not only was there going to be a Deadpool movie, it would be rated R. The studio was, at some points, not going to sign-off on an R-rated film.

For a little while, fans thought they would have to see the censored and watered-down Deadpool.

Last month, the Deadpool 2 trailer premiered. Deadpool combines the fun humour and raw violence that isn’t seen in any other Marvel films.

Deadpool is the most accurate Marvel-portrayed character. He’s self-deprecating, meta, humorous, while still being sad and violent.

Last time Marvel tried to portray the Merc With a Mouth, fans were subjected to the worst comic character depiction in recent years. This came in Wolverine: Origins. The filmmakers wanted a Deadpool that wasn’t rated-R.

They did this by literally sewing Deadpool’s mouth shut so he couldn’t swear, make lewd jokes or generally, be himself.

The censorship of these violent characters is nearly impossible, especially with Deadpool. Even Deadpool made fun of his past depiction in his own movie.

The only character this did work for, in some ways, was Wolverine himself. Then came Logan.

After more than 15 years of seeing a not-quite-there Wolverine, fans got a look at the true character come to life but unfortunately just for the farewell film of Hugh Jackman playing the character one last time.

Before Logan, fans only had a censored, cleaner version of their clawed mutant. He couldn’t impale or decapitate people. Bloody carcasses weren’t laying at his feet.

Instead, they focused less on the violence and more on the romance, which isn’t Logan Howlett.

Out of all 10 films in the X-Men movie franchise, Logan received the best Rotten Tomatoes score, showing how much fans and viewers in general, appreciated the raw truth of who these characters are.

Logan is also the first superhero film to be nominated for an Oscar in the best adapted screenplay category. It is also the first major nomination for any superhero film, excluding Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for supporting actor with his role as the Joker.

Other nominations are for technical categories, like hair and makeup or visual effects.

With these films leading the way, there are so many other potential characters to be adapted. These include Moon Knight, Carnage, Fantomex, Mystique and so many more.

Marvel needs to focus on the examples of Logan and Deadpool in particular and continue where Fox left off. Even though they have their more mature Netflix shows like Daredevil and The Punisher, their movies remain lighthearted.

All in all, there isn’t an “R” in Marvel for no reason.