The 'Suicide Squad' Rating Is Surprising & Raises Some Questions About The Future Of Superhero Movies
In the wake of the massive success of X-Men pseudo-spinoff Deadpool , casual moviegoers and Hollywood insiders alike likely braced themselves for a massive shift in the way comic book movies are made. Whether bright and poppy like Marvel's The Avengers or dark and gritty like Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, the conventional wisdom was that you had to keep your superhero movies relatively tame in order to make a killing at the box office. Deadpool changed all of that, outgrossing every other film in Fox's X-Men franchise and becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. In that film's wake, Warner Bros. officially announced this Wednesday that their upcoming comic book movie Suicide Squad will be rated… PG-13?
What gives? The official descriptor by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) cites the film's "sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, and suggestive content and language" as the reasoning behind the PG-13 rating. But why didn't Warner Bros. push for an R rating in order to capitalize on Deadpool's unprecedented success? Given how relentlessly grim Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice was, and that Suicide Squad is literally a movie about a team of super-villains, you would think that the next entry in the DC Extended Universe would be the perfect opportunity for the franchise to try out a harder rating.
On the other hand, perhaps it's exactly because of how relentlessly grim BvS was that Warner Bros. decided not to lean even harder on the "grittiness" for its next installment. Director David Ayer claimed that the Suicide Squad reshoots, which were first reported in April 2016, were simply to add more action rather than insert more humor into the production — but with the revelation that Suicide Squad is remaining PG-13, I think it's safe to say that we can expect a more humorous tone from Harley Quinn & Co. than we got from the Man of Steel and the Bat of Gotham back in March.
Does Suicide Squad's rating — following close on the heels of the PG-13 likes of Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse — mean that the "Deadpool" effect isn't really a thing? Was that gloriously violent movie just a fluke and now it's back to business as usual? Not necessarily. There are still more R-rated superhero movies on the horizon than ever, even if Suicide Squad won't be joining them: BvS will received an R-rated extended cut for home video release, the upcoming animated film Batman: The Killing Joke will be rated R, and so will the third and final Wolverine solo movie starring Hugh Jackman.
It may simply be that Deadpool's success came too late to substantively change the fabric of Suicide Squad from a relatively family-friendly comic book romp to a balls-to-the-wall sex-and-violence-filled caper. Or perhaps that was simply never Ayer's vision for the film at all. There's certainly something to be said for artistic integrity and the fact that Ayer and Warner Bros. didn't decide to shoot for a stricter rating just because of another studio's success.
While there are likely some fans out there disappointed to hear that Suicide Squad will remain accessibly PG-13, a rating alone isn't enough to make or break a movie. (Deadpool wouldn't have been nearly as successful if it hadn't been, you know, good.) If you were looking forward to seeing Jared Leto's Joker in action, this news shouldn't dampen your enthusiasm — nor does it necessarily mean we've seen the end of Deadpool's effect on Hollywood, either.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures