The Geek Beat: Forget the R Rating, These Superheroes Deserve G-Rated Movies

The Geek Beat: Forget the R Rating, These Superheroes Deserve G-Rated Movies

Feb 22, 2017

There's a lot of talk right now about R-rated superhero movies, thanks to the massive success of Deadpool and the impending arrival of Logan, Hugh Jackman's final adventure as Wolverine.

Of course, it's all well and good that certain superheroes are finally finding the edgy elements of their characters welcomed on the big screen, but what about the flip side of the page-to-screen audience? Although we're still far from a situation in which all this emphasis on R-rated movies leaves superheroes' youngest fans behind – especially given all the great, kid-friendly television programming out there – it's worth considering what the future has in store for movie fans that aren't old enough for PG-13 films, let alone R-rated adventures.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of superheroes who would make good fits for G-rated movies, and would likely find themselves welcomed as warmly in the family-friendly demographic as the grim-and-gritty (or in Deadpool's case, raunchy) films are received by adult fans.

At the top of any list of good candidates for G-rated superhero adventures should almost certainly Marvel Comics' Power Pack and DC Comics' Tiny Titans, because, well... they're basically a bunch of superhero kids being superhero kids. What's not to love about that?

Created in 1984, Power Pack is a group of four preteen kids who are granted powerful abilities by a strange alien and decide to become a superhero team while keeping their secret from their parents. Although the original Power Pack series dealt with some mature themes over the course of its 62-issue run, subsequent reboots of the team's adventures were aimed squarely at young readers. Generally regarded as the first, official preteen superhero team in the Marvel Comics universe, a Power Pack movie provides a great opportunity for Marvel to extend its cinematic universe in an entirely new direction: toward the kids still too young for their mainstream movies.

Over at DC Comics, the award-winning Tiny Titans series followed a group of elementary-school versions of the publisher's superheroes (and villains) as they engaged in kid-friendly adventures in school, at home, and just about anywhere else little superheroes can go. The core cast of the series consisted primarily of preteen sidekick characters, including Robin, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash, and the series often featured well-known DC Comics heroes and villains in roles at the Titans' school. (Slade Wilson – the villain known as Deathstroke – is their school principal, for example.) Unlike a Power Pack movie, a Tiny Titans film would likely come with some built-in recognition of its characters, which can either be a positive or a negative, depending on how its handled.

While the previous two superhero teams were kids-only groups, The Shazam Family might provide a nice opportunity to put the “family” back in family-friendly movies. Originally known as “The Marvel Family” before copyright issues pushed DC Comics to officially change the characters' names, The Shazam Family is a close-knit group of characters given powerful abilities by their pal Billy Batson, who turns into the superhero Shazam (previously known as “Captain Marvel”). The Shazam Family works together as a team – and more often, as a family – along with an eclectic cast of supporting characters that has included a bumbling uncle (“Uncle Marvel”), a talking tiger named “Tawky Tawny,” and a bunch of non-powered kids calling themselves “The Lieutenant Marvels,” at various points.

Basically, it's a ready-made, family-oriented team of superheroes that have a long history of colorful stories filled with talking animals and other silly elements. The Shazam Family has “G”-rated superhero adventures written all over it.

Another character that seems like a great fit for a kid-friendly, big-screen adventure is author and illustrator Ben Hatke's young sci-fi superhero Zita the Spacegirl. The rights to the character were picked up by Fox Animation late last year, so here's hoping that means a movie is indeed on the way. The Zita the Spacegirl series followed its eponymous hero after she and a friend are whisked away to an alien planet by a strange device they find on Earth. When her friend is kidnapped, she sets out to rescue him and get them both home. Imagine Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series with a preteen girl as the hero, and you're on the right track.

Finally, with all of the love shown to recent, girl-powered Disney hits like Frozen and Moana – as well as the superhero-driven Big Hero 6 – it seems like an easy call to take a look at Kamala Khan, the teenage Marvel Comics superhero known as Ms. Marvel. Not only is she Marvel's first Muslim character to headline her own book, but she's also a bona fide, award-winning success in the comics scene, having received rave reviews and a heap of prestigious awards for her first few story arcs. A shape-changing girl from New Jersey, Kamala is the perfect character to provide a kid's perspective on not just the superhero experience, but the world outside the pages of comic books, too.

 

This week's question: Which superheroes would you like to see in a family-friendly, G-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, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

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