Marvel Is Going To Ruin Their R-Rated Era

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Bob Iger Daredevil

Recently, the Marvel show Echo had the dubious honor of being the first new Disney+ franchise entry to be rated TV-MA. Many fans were optimistic that Disney giving the green light to more R-rated content could help bring back the glory days of adult-oriented programs like Daredevil and Jessica Jones that first premiered on Netflix. However, here’s a blunt truth coming at you like five episodes dropping all at once: Echo wasted its R-rating, and this bodes ill for Deadpool 3, Blade, and Marvel’s R-rated era in general.

Disney Is Struggling To Find A Balance

daredevil miniseries

To understand why Marvel dropping the ball on this is such a big deal, it’s important to understand that the whole attempt to create an R-rated era is a kind of course correction. Before Disney+, Marvel debuted streaming content on Netflix that was deliberately aimed at adults. Correspondingly, the shows featured plenty of adult content that earned these series their TV-MA rating: Daredevil’s fight scenes were brutal, for example, and Jessica Jones wasn’t afraid to give us a superhero s*x scene.

Marvel Shows Can Now Show Blood Again

It was a big deal when Marvel brought these R-rated shows to Disney+ because the streamer had to introduce new parental controls to its service. These controls were intended to help parents keep their kids from learning about the birds and the bees from Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and to Disney’s credit, none of the blood, beatings, or booty calls have been censored from the former Netflix MCU shows. However, after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered, there was a minor controversy when Disney “accidentally” censored bloodier and more violent scenes of the show.

Fans Want The Gritty And Dark Netflix Era


All of that brings us to the present and Marvel’s unique dilemma: the company knows that much of its audience craves R-rated content, which is why we’re even getting a Deadpool 3 in the first place. They also know fans want more of the Netflix-style content, which is part of why Daredevil: Born Again is getting such extensive reshoots (allegedly, Charlie Cox wasn’t even going to don the Daredevil outfit until the fourth episode). In response to fan demand, Marvel is trying to walk a fine line by delivering R-rated content that still follows the formula of their other series and films.

Echo Was A Half-Step In The Right Direction

Unfortunately, they are actively blowing it: Echo had some cool fight scenes, and they were certainly more realistic than the CGI slugfests we are used to. However, none of those fights ever really approached the brutality of the average Daredevil fight, and the series never really felt like it earned its TV-MA rating. It certainly feels more mature than the Hawkeye show, for example, but the series as a whole felt like less of an R-rated show and more like “PG-15.”

Half-Measures Leave No One Happy

Marvel is shooting themselves in the foot with this approach, especially if this is a representative example of what their future R-rated content is going to be like. Older fans hoping for a return to the adult-oriented Netflix era of MCU content will inevitably be disappointed now that Echo and other new content is just a crappier attempt to try (and fail) to measure up. Meanwhile, making relatively simplistic shows like Echo TV-MA will keep younger audiences from enjoying them, and those are the same audiences likelier to be won over by a show that has cool fight scenes and pretty much nothing else going for it.

Deadpool Needs To Push The Limit

As usual, we’d love to be proven wrong: we hope Deadpool 3 is hilariously violent and pushes every R-rated limit it can and that this movie’s success will cause Disney will push the limit with other adult-oriented fair. However, Echo is a show that ironically lived up to its name by being nothing more than an echo of the mature shows that came before it. If Marvel intends to keep pulling its punches when it comes to R-rated content, then Disney+ audiences will respond in the only way they can: pulling their subscriptions.

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