Why We Love R-Rated Superhero Movies


Superheroes have pierced the imagination since they first appeared in now-old comic books. The genre was even looked down upon for a time, often stereotypically associated with “nerd” culture. Times have changed, however, and to say that superheroes have reached the mainstream would be an understatement. 6 of the 15 highest-grossing movies of all time are Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Additionally, the age of streaming has proven immensely beneficial to the genre by allowing for the creation of more superhero material than ever before. Movies, shows, miniseries – the genre is growing day by day. In the genesis and compilation of this huge library, what was once a small sub-category of the genre took off to become a popular favorite.


It is, of course, the adult superhero. Comics have often been dark, starting in the 1980s with the publication of The killer joke and The Watchers, but it took longer for their movie counterparts to catch up. Mainstream superhero movies have always been great and fun to watch – there’s no denying that – and yet they often leave something to be desired. They have their merits, but the darker, grittier versions of the genre provide quite a distinct experience that fans are increasingly liking. As a result, here’s why we love R-rated superhero movies.

Related: Ryan Reynolds Responds To Deadpool 3 Being The MCU’s First R-Rated Superhero Movie

Vs adults. Mainstream performance

Deadpool in shock

The adult superhero movie was rare. Even early additions like Blade Where watchmen would develop a cult following, but would ultimately gain little critical recognition or attract large audiences. However, films of this genre have become much more popular in recent years. If we look at the 2016 version of dead Pool alongside the general public strange doctor and Captain America: Civil war of the same year; dead Pool earned an 85% critic score and a 90% audience score with $363.1 million at the box office. Civil war won 90% and 89% with $408.1 million. strange doctor took 89% and 86% with $232 million made. It is shown, here, that the adult superhero movie has arrived on the main stage. In this case, it is on par with popular mainstream films in terms of box office numbers, critical reception, and audience approval.

This comparison can also be made in the DC Universe between suicide squad (2016) and The Suicide Squad (2021). The 2016 episode saw an outpouring of hate unmatched by most superhero movies and earned 26% from critics and 59% from audiences. Despite this, the film earned $746 million. The 2021 revisit saw a massive increase in critical and audience approval, with 90% and 82% respectively. Strangely, this movie only made $58 million. Based on this, it seems that while the mainstream film was seen by more people and made a lot more money, the adult version was much more liked by its viewers – a very interesting comparison given the similarities between the movies.

These two comparisons show the growing popularity and improvement in opinion of these films. Mature content has become so popular among comic book fans, in fact, that early last year fans even clamored for an R-rated cut of The Batman. Classic genre tropes, such as chaotic origins, high-stress lives, immense powers and their imagined effects on society, lend themselves perfectly to producing more intense adult circumstances and themes. So what specific elements work differently to create the appeal of this genre?

Deeply conflicted characters

Watchmen Crew Members

Many of these films portray superheroes as deeply flawed, monstrous, or even silly as opposed to an unwavering force for good. Characters in any story have to have flaws, and superheroes often make mistakes or conflict in mainstream movies, but that rarely materializes as egregious acts against society, as is possible in those movies. for adults. The crew of watchmen, for example, welcomes war criminals, murderers, and rapists with no regard for the safety of mankind – truly among the worst of the worst. Similarly, the heroes featured in The boys killing civilians en masse at the behest of their corporate overlords. Stories like this beg the question: what happens when the heroes themselves can’t tell right from wrong? Editions of this nature cause audiences to rethink the concept of superheroes all together and paint a darker, creepier portrait of these capped protectors. Things can get so bad, and when those being helped are morally bankrupt and untrustworthy, the stakes seem so much higher.

Shameless graphic content


Violence is the cornerstone of any superhero movie; it is present in everyone. However, these R-rated superhero movies push the envelope even further when it comes to the seriousness of violence on the individual and mass scales. Mainstream films undoubtedly go as far as they can go, but often draw the line at complex death and injury. The gratuitous bloodshed is obviously inappropriate for some members of the public, but for others it is a source of horrifying elation. Considering the immense power that some of these heroes and villains are capable of unleashing, it seems only natural that serious consequences such as dismemberment or annihilation are common. Wouldn’t most heroes cripple or destroy a human body beyond recognition if they unleashed their powers upon them? This allowance gives a stronger sense of “realism” as far as that term can go in that genre. Loganfor example, became both the highest-rated installment of all x-men films and the highest earnings of this franchise. It seems reasonable to say that the film’s popularity and acclaim is partly due to its focus on character and impressive portrayal of gore.

Related: The Actors We Think Should Play Wolverine In The MCU

Dark and vulgar comedy


A more overlooked positive aspect of this subgenre is the humor for which it creates space. The key to any comedy is something called incongruity, which is more or less the element of the unexpected. The juxtaposition of extreme scenarios present in superhero stories with humor creates incongruity to a high degree and in a consistent way that allows for a privileged environment for jokes. The absurd circumstances, strong language, and mature subject matter take this dynamic even further to deliver a distinct mix of material not only found in comedies or superhero movies. dead Pool and Deadpool 2 both display this type of content in a big way. Other noteworthy mentions are Kick ass and the Peacemaker show on HBO.

The Boys Crew
wild storm

This may again be available in some mainstream films, but often commentary will be a pronounced primary focus of an adult film’s material. People often use these films as an escape and young people may not have a clue what is being commented on, so if it exists in a mainstream feature film, it’s usually less of a focal point. In the “real” world, societal issues such as corruption, greed, and racism would certainly impact a superhero’s day-to-day life, perhaps even within their own organization. These films can be powerful tools for framing the issues we face in reality in a more accessible light. the watchmen The series deals directly with racism and police relations in America. V for Vendetta uses its story and characters to confront totalitarianism in a hard-hitting and borderline disturbing way. At last, The boys delves into corporate greed and the military-industrial complex, given that the superheroes of this world are owned and controlled by a corporation.

Most of the movies mentioned here use several of these techniques to create tense and exciting content. It’s the combination of these elements that sets them apart from their mainstream counterparts and makes them so pleasing to the eye.


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