Constantine 2 Director Francis Lawrence Promises A 'Real R-Rated' Movie This Time

The fanboy desire for R-rated superhero movies is — by and large — silly, especially when it comes to tentpole characters like Batman, Superman and the X-Men. James Mangold made it work with the elegiac "Logan," but that's an itch that should rarely get scratched. The DC films are dour enough as it is, and, outside of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy, this miserabilist approach saps what should be enthralling yarns of their fun and vitality. If I want to go see a humorless studio flick about crime-fighters made for adults, well, they don't make those anymore so I'll stay home and watch a streaming series like David Simon's "We Own This City."

There are exceptions. If you're adapting Alan Moore's "Watchmen," you're defanging the material if you don't go for the hardest of R ratings. And if you're taking on John Constantine, the cynical, chain-smoking protagonist of the "Hellblazer" comics," you need to embrace the nihilistic, kid-unfriendly themes that made the character a cult favorite.

If you're a fan of "Hellblazer," it's time to rejoice. According to director Francis Lawrence, who delivered a decent PG-13 iteration of the character in 2005's "Constantine," his next go-round with the character won't pull its punches.

It's time to unleash the true, uncut Hellblazer

According to an interview with The Wrap's Drew Taylor, Lawrence is still smarting from his battle with the MPA on "Constantine." Lawrence was contractually obligated to deliver a PG-13 movie, so he observed what he believed to be the requisite content constraints. When his cut of the film was slapped with an R rating based on the MPA's "gray zone of intensity," he lamented his artistic compromise. "I would have made it much scarier and much more violent," he says. "And I would have really made an R-rated movie."

This time out, that's exactly what he's doing. "The idea is, this time, at least for me, is to really go at it and make a real R-rated Constantine which is, I think, what people always wanted originally, not the PG-13 version that just happens to get an R."

This is an incredibly encouraging development, but you might want to pump the brakes on your enthusiasm. It's currently unclear as to whether the "Constantine" sequel will be Lawrence's next movie. He just finished "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" (a prequel to the blockbuster series), and doesn't have a finished screenplay from Akiva Goldsman yet. There are ideas being kicked around, and Keanu Reeves is fully on board, but nothing's official until the camera's are rolling. There's also the matter of getting Warner Bros. on board with an R-rated comic book movie. Here's hoping Lawrence, who has a lot more industry pull than he did in '05, gets the greenlight to go gritty.