The recent release of Deadpool has taken Hollywood by storm; not just because it’s set to rake in $153 million at the US box-office in its opening weekend, and not just because it’s a film that was shelved for 11-years that proved all the Hollywood producers wrong, but because of its recent feats in cinematic history. Deadpool now claims the highest ever box office opening for an R-Rated movie in US history (15-rated UK equivalent), and astonishingly is already the highest grossing R-Rated comic-book movie within days of its release.
The issue of R-Rated and ‘darker’ comic book movies is a very complex one – especially for Marvel. This is largely due to the screen rights of Marvel’s characters being scattered across Hollywood. For instance, Spider-Man is co-owned by Sony; Deadpool, X-Men, and Fantastic Four are owned by Fox Studios, and everyone else comes under Disney’s acquirement of Marvel Studios. The complexity arises in that, say for example Marvel Studios – the major player in Marvel comic-book films – wants to make more edgy comic-book films. They then have to either commit to more edgy films while other studios (like Sony) go for lighter films, and thus confuse/alienate some casual audience members (the backbone of their box-office income), or alternatively wait until the other studios take a more edgy approach and then they follow suit – running the risk of producing copy-cat knock-offs. Hopefully all this talk about which studio owns which Marvel character, and how Marvel comic-book characters cannot be fully cinematically owned by Marvel Studios hasn’t confused you too much. If so don’t worry, I’m done with the complexities now.
Moving swiftly on, let’s turn back the clock: in 1998 an R-Rated Marvel Studios film was released – it was violent beyond belief, incredibly dark and unrelentingly aimed at adults, that film was Blade, based off the character of the same name. The film went on to do relatively well at the box-office ($70 million in the US and spawning a successful trilogy), however it is almost entirely ignored in the modern-era of comic-book movie discussions. It showed how there was a time – before all this Avengers over-saturation and whitewashing – where Marvel Studios went for a much darker cinematic feel. Albeit, the writers and director almost entirely distanced themselves from the source material of Blade, making Blade more their own character than Marvel’s. This however is not the case with Deadpool. This time around the writers and director have made the film very much true to the style, tone, and origins laid down in Deadpool’s source material. Thus, with its incredible success, this surely just points to darker, edgier Marvel characters being adapted for the silver screen.
Leading on from this, casual audiences were stunned last year with the production and release of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, two television series by none other than the notoriously adult-aimed company Netflix. Granted, it was co-produced by Marvel Studios, but Netflix played a huge role in pioneering real gritty and grounded views of Marvel characters. Both were a huge success, commissioning multiple spin-offs and forthcoming seasons – a huge message to the overlords of Marvel Studios, that message being: make more gritty movies for Christ’s sake (ok maybe not that dramatic). Both of those characters are just bullets in the chamber for Marvel Studios, as they weren’t originally planned to be adapted for the silver-screen, but their success surely will start to change their minds, with potential to be added to the Avengers roster.
To conclude, if you’re still pondering as to whether Marvel Studios will ride off the back of the success of Fox’s daring, risk-taking R-Rated comic-book movie (Deadpool) then wonder no more. Deadpool is decimating R-Rated records left, right and centre, garnering not only a gigantic fan-base, but sequel talks too – there’s one thing that ultimately matters in the cinematic industry and that is money. Money. Money. Money. If it will make money, then you can almost guarantee that Hollywood producers will send it to the big-screen. So far Deadpool has made a lot of money, so you can bet your house on it that Marvel Studios will be desperately clambering to now produce more edgy films (watch out for the ‘phase three’ film Black Panther to see whether it will prove my point).