Marvel Studios Ramping Up For The R-Rated Era

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

When Marvel Studios first introduced the MCU in 2008, the studio did something that had never been done before. They managed to keep a huge international fan base invested in a web of connecting superhero stories for over 10 years, culminating in one final movie: Endgame. But ever since the Thanos saga ended, Marvel has had trouble keeping fans invested, something the studio might change with the introduction of a collection of R-rated movies and TV series.

Leading up to Endgame, the world was hooked on Marvel. Twenty-two major blockbuster movies accumulated to build a world previously only known to comic book readers, ending with an epic film in Phase 3 fit to end all Phases. Honestly, Marvel could have stopped there and labeled the MCU a successful experiment and a job well done. But that’s not what they did. 

Like Icarus, Marvel wanted to fly even higher, moving straight into Phase 4. And, like Icarus, they came to learn they’d made a grave mistake. Since the introduction of The Multiverse Saga in 2021, the MCU has encountered a barrage of disappointing fan reviews as their projects unfolded. 

Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

A central concern revolves around Marvel’s strategy to emphasize quantity over quality, with multiple projects running simultaneously, leaving insufficient time for meticulous refinement. The outcome has been a decline in production values, marked by uneven VFX, abrupt editing, and uninspiring writing across various releases.

Phase 4 saw the introduction of 17 films and streaming series before Marvel realized that the quantity-over-quality approach was not appeasing the fans. By Phase 5, it was too late to turn around and the studio released Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the absolute worst Marvel movie according to reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Scene from Marvel’s Echo series

Now, Marvel is making moves to fix their mistakes by first, limiting the number of releases in Phase 6, and second, allowing for the creation of more mature content to better tell the stories.

Instead of limiting themselves to telling stories fit for all ages, Marvel is experimenting with adopting a more mature tone if deemed necessary for the proper execution of the story. The studio will no longer be strictly adhering to a PG-13 rating for movies or TV-14 for Disney+ series. 

deadpool 3
Deadpool and Wolverine team up for Deadpool 3

The pilot project for this new mature approach within the Disney+ platform is slated to be Echo, while the upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine film will delve into R-rated experiences for theatrical releases. The reception of these projects will play a pivotal role in determining whether other ventures will receive the green light for a mature rating. 

If the mature content works in Marvel’s favor (which we’re guessing it will), then other projects like Daredevil: Born Again, Blade, Thunderbolts, Marvel Zombies, and other upcoming initiatives will likely also dip into the R-rated pool.

Meanwhile, the studio is also acknowledging past criticism and has announced its commitment to prioritizing quality over quantity. Moving forward, directors and writers will have more creative freedom to tell individual stories, reducing the pressure for excessive connectivity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Smaller story arcs will replace epic sagas, creating distinct boundaries between different MCU levels, from Street to Cosmic.

Source: Cosmic Circus

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