One of my favorite geeky sites to go to on the web is GeekTyrant, they’ve got a pretty similar credo as us, basically covering everything in entertainment that’s nerdy. As I do from time to time I swing by their site and check out what they have, especially their opinion pieces. Those kind of things are my favorite on sites similar to ours because it’s nice to see the way fellow geeks take the same information as we do.
Anyways, I came across an article from one of their writers Mick Joest “Why the World Needs to See An R Rated Batman”. I read through the article and where Mick brings up some good points, ultimately his argument is flawed.
His two biggest arguments are that DC Comics have given the go ahead for WB Animation to do an R rated “The Killing Joke” adaption and that WB wouldn’t do it because well it’s hard to sell toys for an R rated movie. He also brings up the arguments of darker stories like Venom as well as The Red Rain series where Batman becomes a vampire to defeat Dracula and then starts feeding on villains.
First off, we’ll never seen Red Rain or anything like it in the cinemas. Like Faster than a Speeding Bullet and Gotham by Gaslights this is an Eleseworld story which is kind of like DC’s “What If” line where they kind of say , “what if Batman were a vampire?” or “what if Clark Kent’s pod crashed in Gotham and was found by the Waynes?” These kind of stories won’t ever make it to the big screen but we could see from WB Animation.
As far as darker stories like Venom and The Killing Joke coming to the big screen both could be done and if they stayed completely loyal to their source material still wouldn’t go above a PG-13 rating, because the comics themselves aren’t rated R material.
I’m going to list to you what gets you an R rating and then explain why these stipulations wouldn’t matter for a Batman film;
Using the word Fuck as a verb that describes intercourse, and using it more than three times in a film. Most people think you only get to say “Fuck” once to stay at a PG-13 level, but apparently you can use it up to three times. Honestly, unless your movie is going to be rated R without “fuck” then you don’t really have to use the word for your film. “Shit, damn, ah hell,” and various other can easily be substituted.
Tobacco use by a hero. in 2007 the MPAA in order to try and curve smoking among young folk instituted a rule where the good guys can’t smoke. Politics aside this is one of the stupidest fucking things I’ve ever seen. I will concede, seeing guys like John Wayne and James Dean (among others) smoking made it look cool, but do you know how many cigarettes I’ve had in my entire life? Zero. That’s because my parents didn’t allow television and movies to raise me, they taught me right from wrong. Also, this is why we never actually see Logan smoking a cigar in X-Men Movies made after 2007. He attempts to but never lights up (bet you didn’t know that). This wouldn’t apply to Batman at all since he doesn’t smoke, shit he doesn’t even drink, whenever (in the comics or movies) you see Bruce Wayne with a drink it’s never alcohol, he just wants people to think that he’s wino to help protect his identity.
Hard Drug Use: The use of hard drugs like crack or heroine as in showing characters smoking rocks or crack or shooting up. Granted Venom is a drug, but a fictional one and a steroid, which is not considered a hard drug. Not to mention even when doing this story line you never have to actually show the characters using it. Also Venom was already used in the dreadful Batman and Robin.
Nudity: It’s not in the comics and doesn’t need to be in a Batman movie. “But wait!” I hear you scream out, “didn’t Joker take nude suggestive photos of Barbra in the Killing Joke?” To that I say, maybe, maybe not. The only photos we the reader see are Barbra lying on the ground in a bra and panties. That’s it, that’s all we see. What is implied by those is up to the reader, honestly I never once read that book thought that the Joker went any further than that. In my mind he stripped her down to her underwear and took those photos and that is it. I never once thought he stripped her naked or even raped her as some in the comics media have suggested.
Extreme or Graphic Violence: Batman comics and comics in general are violent, after all they’re about men and women in spandex beating up bad guys, but the violence is never graphic. It’s your standard punch and kick variety with the occasional guns or laser thrown into the mix. Both the Dark Knight and Man of Steel were violent but never to an extreme and they never need to be. Even the Joker at his worst in the comics doesn’t approach an R rating level of violence and even if he did it’s always off panel, everything horrific in comics is off panel and only eluded to which is good enough for a comic book movie. The Joker can carve someone up until his heart is content but we don’t need to see it. A good film maker would shoot the scene with a crazed Joker walking up to his victim with a knife and simply imply what is about to happen, the camera pans away and we hear screaming.
Everything listed above is what gets you an R rating and none of it is in a Batman comic, so why would we need it in a Batman movie. Sure he’s a dark character but he never crosses that line into true darkness and that is what makes his character so great. We see countless action movies there the tag line is “this time they’ve pushed him over the edge…” or “this time they’ve gone to far…” only to show us our “hero” mowing down countless nameless villains with an automatic weapon. That’s not Batman, no matter how far he’s pushed he never goes over that edge
We comic fans constantly want R rated versions of our favorite heroes, “Wolverine’s next movie should be R rated” “Deadpool should be R rated” (that one I agree with), “Batman should be R rated!” Here’s the thing though, a lot of the time things are rated R because the people who made them aren’t that creative. It’s easy to throw a story on film with a lot of violence and cussing to hide the fact that your movie lacks a lot of story and has plot holes coming out of your ass. It’s another thing entirely to make a film with a coherent story and have characters convey real emotions without saying “FUCK” 100 times.
I love film Quinton Terrentino, but I guarantee you he couldn’t make a PG-13 film to save his life because he’s not that creative. His answer to writers block is the F word or N word and an extreme amount of violence. Say what you will about Spy Kids, but Robert Rodriguez with that franchise proved he was the better film maker than Terrentino because he was able to adapt his style of film making (very similar to Quinton’s) and tone it down to make a movie he could show his kids (his motivation for the franchise) but one that is critically acclaimed with a 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which by the way, is the director’s highest rated film.
So to answer my own question, no we do not need an R rated Batman movie. PG-13 is more than enough of a rated to tell a truly epic and creative Batman movie. There are characters out there who’s movies should be rated R in order to do the character justice, off the top of my head, Deadpool and Punisher come to mind, but Batman certainly isn’t one of them.
I got the rating guidelines from Avvo Naked Law.