One of the sillier trends I’ve seen is online fans campaigning for R-rated versions of franchise flicks, specifically superhero pictures like “Deadpool” and “Logan.”
Of course, in the case of those two films, those fans got their wish.
“Deadpool” was a huge box-office hit last year, the only R-rated film in the 2016 top 10, according to Box Office Mojo. And “Logan” was also a big hit, one of only two R-rated films in the 2017 top 10 (along with “It”). And they could shift by the end of the year.
To some, those films are much more heroic for going down the R-rated road than “Avengers: Age of Ultron” for calling out one of its characters for swearing.
In that film, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) utters a profanity and Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) chides him by saying, “Language.” Then, Rogers spends the rest of the movie being mocked for it.
The message is clear: Cussing is perfectly acceptable. Calling someone out for cussing is not.
Ah, Hollywood filmmakers. Even when they pretend to take the high road, they really don’t.
Some online fan threads actually argue that since Rogers is a mid-20th century man in a 21st-century world, he just doesn’t get how language has evolved. Devolved is more like it.
The fans do know these guys are fiction, right?
For years now, I’ve been writing about Hollywood’s ridiculous penchant for putting at least one F-word in each PG-13 movie (these days often two or three or more), as if that rating somehow ensures more box-office business than a PG or G. It doesn’t.
More often it leads to people asking, “Why was that word in there?” It’s usually superfluous and always gratuitous.
The favorite argument of filmmakers is that those words are included because that’s the way people talk. Well, some people do. But many people do not.
And as I once wrote, no one ever left a theater complaining that a movie would have been much better if only there had been more cussing.
Although, maybe that’s no longer true — at least among some uber-fans of the comic books (sorry, graphic novels) on which the films are based. They can get particularly loud about wanting certain movies to amp up the content to R-rated levels. Just to be true to the books, of course. (Hollywood being true to a book? As if.)
And they’ve only gotten louder in our post-“Deadpool” superhero world. (Thank you, internet.)
Let’s take “Suicide Squad,” for example, which was released last year. There was a strong online contingent that complained when the film's PG-13 rating was announced. Then, many thought the extended Blu-ray/DVD version would put it in R-rated territory. It didn’t.
Some of us would argue that the PG-13 “Suicide Squad” should have been rated R, with its nonstop violence and profanity, even if the F-word is only muttered once. (Can a movie be rated R if it has no F-words?)
Of course, “Deadpool,” whose success has enabled the online R-rated argument, is not just rated R for its pervasive foul language. The film also includes plenty of gory violence and graphic sexual material, most of it played for crass laughs.
Hey, if that’s your cup of dirty soda, more power to you.
Personally, I have no dog in this fight. By which I mean that although I enjoy a good superhero movie as much as the next guy (especially when it has as much humor as “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”), I don’t care that there’s a rabid fan base thirsty for R-rated superheroes. They can have them, while I take a pass.
I skipped “Deadpool,” and when “Deadpool 2” comes out next year, I’ll skip that, too.
Not that I’m in the target demographic anyway. Come to think of it, I’m not in the target demographic for anything that comes out of Hollywood — a demographic I fell off of some 19 years ago. Yikes!
Anyway, the latest uproar is over the potential buyout of 21st Century Fox by Disney (which already owns Marvel Studios and LucasFilm, home of, respectively, the Marvel and Star Wars franchises).
Fox, you see, still owns a few of the Marvel heroes — including Deadpool. And when this news broke, it sent fans into a frenzy because they fear Disney will water down Deadpool to a PG-13 hero. Which is ridiculous, since Disney has been making R-rated films since 1986 (albeit without putting the “Disney" name on them) and it knows better than to mess with a cash cow.
Nonetheless, the hue and cry has been fueled by none other than Ryan Reynolds himself, the actor who has played Deadpool twice (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Deadpool”) and will be seen next summer in “Deadpool 2.”
Upon learning the news of the possible Fox/Disney merger, Reynolds offered up this snarky tweet, “If this is true, I wonder how the fudge it would affect Deadpool?”
His use of “fudge,” of course, suggests that Disney might tone down the Deadpool films. I’d be fine with that, but it won’t happen. And Reynolds is fully aware of that. Hey, the only bad publicity is no publicity, right?
But thanks anyway, Ryan, for using Twitter to perpetuate your own brand of fake news. (Wonder where he got that idea.)