The Geek Beat: These R-rated Comic Book Movies Need To Happen... Now!

The Geek Beat: These R-rated Comic Book Movies Need To Happen... Now!

Feb 16, 2016

Now that Deadpool has seemingly changed the game for “R”-rated comic book movies with a record-setting opening weekend, there are probably quite a few studios scrambling to find comics they can turn into cash cows for adult audiences.

Fortunately, the comics landscape is filled with great characters and stories that would be well-suited for older audiences, and would also avoid the sort of branding conflicts that develop when a studio takes popular characters for younger fans and gives them grim-and-gritty makeovers. (I'm looking at you, Man of Steel.) And if we've learned anything from the success of films like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy, it's that lesser-known characters can bring in big numbers at the box office.

So, in the interest of guiding Hollywood's attention to some of the comics that studios might want to consider when searching for the next “R”-rated blockbuster, here are a few recommendations for characters (and series) that would feel right at home playing to a restricted audience.

 

The Boys

Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's creator-owned series is one of the most violent, raunchy, and altogether brutal superhero series published in the last decade, if not of all time. Set in a world where super-powered heroes and villains not only exist, but have been corrupted by their own celebrity and their ability to do as they please, the series follows a small, secret group of government agents tasked with monitoring superheroes and keeping them in line by any means necessary. The series fully – and with occasionally graphic detail – explores the sort of debauchery and recklessness that the super-powered contingent could get up to in a world where celebrity is the most valuable currency. Given that the series' primary protagonist was modeled after Simon Pegg, the film would seem to have a star already lined up, too.

 

Freshmen

This short-lived series co-created by Hugh Sterbakov and Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Seth Green was never particularly violent or graphic, but its raunchy humor is the sort of stuff that one typically finds in “R”-rated college comedies. The series follows a group of outcast college students who gain superhuman abilities from an accident at the science building where they're living. Instead of getting the ability to fly or super-strength, however, they end up with a range of bizarre powers that include a vegetarian who can talk to (and hear) plants, a math prodigy with toxic burps, and a guy named “Long Dong” with an indestructible, 15-foot long, well... you get the idea. A movie version of Freshmen would likely mix equal parts Mystery Men with Revenge of the Nerds, with a little American Pie thrown in for good measure.

 

Girls

Years before Stephen King published Under the Dome (which was subsequently turned into a television series), the duo of Jonathan and Joshua Luna created the 24-issue series Girls, about a small Pennsylvania town that suddenly finds itself enclosed under a mysterious dome and cut off from the world. Adding to their troubles is the sudden arrival of a group of beautiful, naked girls who want to mate with any males they encounter, and also happen to lay eggs and fly into a violent, deadly rage when confronted by human women. Mix the tone of Scarlett Johansson's underrated alien thriller Under the Skin with the slow-burning paranoia of Under the Dome and the terror of classic zombie films, and you've got Girls.

 

The Goon

A film based on Eric Powell's supernatural comedy series has been in the works for almost a decade now, and all we have is a cool proof-of-concept trailer to remind us how much potential there is in adapting the comic. Still, the lack of movement on the project hasn't stopped fans from wanting to see the adventures of The Goon and his sidekick Franky make the leap from page to screen. An adaptation of The Goon would probably be best served as an animated feature, and with the series' large fanbase, it could do for “R”-rated animated movies what Deadpool did for “R”-rated superhero movies. Oh, and did I mention that Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti were initially attached to play The Goon and Franky, respectively, in an animated movie if it ever comes to pass? Because that's pretty darn fantastic.

 

Lobo

Fan campaigns for a Lobo movie predate Deadpool and go back well into the early years of the comic-book movie renaissance, but we still haven't seen DC Comics' most violent, edgy, and altogether adult-oriented antihero make his way from page to screen. In recent years, DC has attempted to bring Lobo into its mainstream universe by softening the character up and giving him a more traditional (read: younger and hipper) superhero makeover, but true fans of the character are still holding out hope that the burly, chain-wielding, hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, spacehog-riding original incarnation of the character will get his own, “R”-rated adventure in the cosmos. A bounty hunter with a nasty habit of destroying everything between him and his prey, Lobo makes characters like Wolverine and Punisher seem cultured and well-adjusted in comparison, and that – along with his massive popularity – makes him a prime subject for any forays Warner Bros. is looking to make into “R”-rated superhero films.

 

Moon Knight

Lobo might make the most sense for an “R”-rated superhero movie set in DC Comics' burgeoning cinematic universe, but on the flip side, Moon Knight certainly presents an attractive option for a restricted-audience adventure set in Marvel's movie-verse. The character's origin has been revised countless times over the years, but typically has former mercenary Phil Spector fighting crime by night as the avatar of the Egyptian god Khonshu – but here's the twist: the powers he believes he has and everything about his nighttime habits might actually stem from multiple-personality disorder brought on by post-traumatic stress. In recent years, Moon Knight has been characterized as one of the more violent costumed heroes in the Marvel Comics universe, engaging in both street-level crimefighting and adventures that delve into the supernatural, and could easily push the boundaries of the MCU into edgier territory.

 

Spawn

Sure, Todd McFarlane's undead superhero already got an “R”-rated movie in 1997, but few could argue that one of the most popular comic characters created in the last 25 years was well-represented in that entirely forgettable film. Visual effects technology has evolved significantly since Spawn was made, and there's no denying that McFarlane's demon-fighting Hellspawn has loads of potential for a blockbuster, FX-driven spectacle that straddles the line between horror and superhero fare. You need look no further than the 2014 fan film Spawn: The Recall for proof of the character's potential in the modern movie landscape, as well as the Emmy-nominated Todd McFarlane's Spawn animated series that aired on HBO in the late '90s and now feels far ahead of its time.

 

Question of the Week: Which comic book series would you like to see get an “R”-rated movie?


Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and his personal blog can be found at MindPollution.org. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

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