The DC superheroes have had a rough go when it comes to competing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, that does not mean that there have not been some major successes in recent years. Joker ended up bringing in over $1 billion at the box office and has continued to maintain a significant pop culture presence. HBO’s Watchmen was one of the most critically-acclaimed comic book series of all time. And most recently, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has caused a ton of discussion and seems to have been a decent investment for HBO Max. And one of the connecting factors between those projects is that they are R-rated and intended for mature viewers. And that seems to be the direction most DC superheroes will be headed in.
We reached out to one of our trusted and proven insider sources and they have confirmed that a large chunk of DC superheroes will be getting R-rated takes in the future. This is in an attempt to help differentiate DC from Marvel since that company seems pretty committed to making all of their properties PG-13 or an equivalent level of content. We were not able to confirm exactly which projects will be going R-rated, but it does seem like Warner Bros. is aiming to really mine their R-rated ideas with their superheroes. The big question is just how far they will go with this mandate. Will Batman and Superman be getting this kind of treatment? And just how far will they push the mature content?
But that is not all that the DC superheroes will be undergoing. Warner Bros. also wants to focus on younger heroes since that does not seem to be a major focus for Marvel at the moment. We assume this is not going to cross over with the R-rated initiative but will rather be a two-pointed plan of attack for the studio. Their non-R material will give the spotlight to younger heroes – like the upcoming Blue Beetle – while their adult superheroes will get more R-rated material.
Hopefully, the DC superheroes that make sense for an R-rated take are the ones that get that treatment. Seeing Wonder Woman get reforged into an R-rated take would feel incorrect, but characters like Black Adam or Deathstroke could definitely work in an R-rated take. Whether or not they will go that route for those characters remains to be seen, but this R-rated directive seems to be where they want to direct their energies.
And that could get even more fuel added to its fire if James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad ends up being a major hit with audiences and critics this August. The DC superheroes – or rather, supervillains – look like they are going to be the wildest R-rated riff we have seen in the modern era of superhero cinema, and it proves that “R-rated” does not necessarily need to mean grim and serious. There are lots of avenues filmmakers could take with this directive, including the ability to explore more difficult dramatic fare that Marvel films may have to avoid.
It is going to be interesting what the R-rated direction for the DC superheroes will end up producing. Hopefully, it will usher in a new era of DC movies that are as good as HBO’s Watchmen.