Don't Expect To See Any R-Rated Marvel Studios Movies In The Foreseeable Future

Last month, Deadpool definitively proved that an R-rated superhero movie could make money. Lots of money. To date, it's grossed $619 million and counting — more than the entire runs of films like X-Men: First Class and Ant-Man. Naturally, that led to lots of chatter about which other superheroes could go R-rated. Which other costumed heroes might benefit from the freedom to go dark, twisted, violent, sexy?

Well, only time will tell, but we do know which ones definitely won't. Disney chairman Bob Iger has made it crystal clear that the men and women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will not be going R-rated in the foreseeable future. 

Iger addressed the question of a Marvel R-rated film during the Disney investor call. "We don't have any plans to make R-rated Marvel movies," he said simply. That shouldn't come as a big surprise. All of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have been rated PG-13 so far, and the franchise is doing just fine. Plus, they're all released by Disney, which has built its brand on family-friendly four-quadrant blockbusters.

Although it's very possible that Deadpool will kick off a tidal wave of R-rated movies — Marvel man James Gunn, for one, seems terrified that Hollywood will take all the wrong lessons from that movie — we won't really feel the effects for a while. Yes, 20th Century Fox is considering an R-rated Wolverine, and yes, Warner Bros. has promised an R-rated "ultimate edition" of Batman v Superman. In both cases, though, it looks like plans were already in motion before Deadpool's record-breaking debut. The real question is what'll happen to projects that are earlier in the development phase right now. Will Deadpool's success encourage studios to take some NSFW risks?

There's no question that Deadpool was better for being rated R. It allowed the filmmakers to faithfully translate the character's irreverent personality, and gave the movie a bit of edge that set it apart from other comic book movies. But an R rating isn't appropriate for every story. Marvel's big-screen outings share a relatively light-hearted sensibility; that's one of the things that sets them apart from Warner Bros.' DC films and Fox's X-Men franchise. An overly crass or dark superhero would feel out of place in the studio's lineup.

Besides, if you're looking for more mature superhero content it's not hard to find: just open up Netflix, where you can watch Jessica Jones and Luke Cage engage in marathon sex sessions, or Daredevil go toe-to-toe with the Punisher in a bloody showdown. Technically, all of these characters exist in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain America, Iron Man, and the other Avengers, but by keeping them off in a separate corner, Marvel gets to tell different kinds of stories, and attract different kinds of viewers, without diluting the sunnier big-screen MCU brand.