Much has already been written about how Deadpool's surprise haul at the box office means Hollywood may now openly embrace R-rated superhero movies, but all of that theorizing was in reference to movies that are still in the development phase and haven't even gotten a greenlight yet. Here's an unexpected twist, though: the MPAA just gave Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice an R-rating.
Well, technically speaking, they gave an R-rating not to the theatrical cut of the movie that the world will see on March 25, 2016, but to an 'Ultimate Edition" of the movie that Warner Bros. submitted, presumably for a home video release down the line. And specifically speaking, this version earned the restricted rating not for language or nudity - two things that can easily be dialed up or down to appease the MPAA - but for "sequences of violence." So that means that Zack Snyder shot action for Batman v Superman that is somehow so intense you wouldn't want a 13-year-old to see it in a theater by themselves.
Batman has had some gritty escapades over the years, but Superman is typically always on the more wholesome side of the spectrum, so it's a bit surprising a property that is so vitally tied into children's ideas of good and bad would have even gotten close to an R-rating in the first place. Who gets hurt so badly in Batman v Superman that a 13-year-old shouldn't be allowed to see it?
In all likelihood it's probably not a huge, crazy difference. Ratings are such a fickle thing and can be determined simply by showing or not showing human blood (this is how Lord of the Rings can get away with outright slaughtering and beheading non-humans). But now we're so very curious to find out the cause of the rating, which is no doubt the entire point of creating a secondary "Ultimate Edition" in the first place.
But getting back to the direct effect Deadpool may have on future movies, THR is the latest in a line to report that the final Wolverine movie is aiming for an R-rating. According to them it was always Hugh Jackman's intent to send things out on an R-rated note, but Fox no doubt has the confidence to do so now thanks to Deadpool's cash flow. They haven't filmed a single second of the movie yet, though, so it's still entirely possible that Wolverine 3 will end up with a PG-13 rating.
Again, it's worth stressing that MPAA ratings can be all over the map and can be justified by the organization for any number of reasons. The rating can change if a character says one extra F-bomb no matter how little or how much violence is in a movie. You can have a character smoking pot in a movie and the difference between a PG-13 or an R is whether or not they express regret for having done so. Heck, Wolverine walked around naked in Days of Future Past and that still got a PG-13.
So don't take this early buzz about an R-rated Wolverine to mean the franchise will suddenly be radically different. It's not going to become Game of Thrones with horrific violence and orgies. It probably just means this time Wolverine's claws will have a little bit more blood on them instead of being spotless when he pulls them out of someone.
Either way, we'll find out on March 3, 2017.