“Batman,” “Superman,” “Spiderman”—healthy film franchises all. Then, there was the little-known Ant-man. Now, there’s the even lesser-known “Deadpool.”
These new franchises could be construed as Marvel Comics scraping the bottom of the barrel for product, but if you’re thinking that, it means you haven’t read comic books since the ’70s—you were busy having kids.
What your kids probably know is that the Marvel stable of super heroes has grown exponentially. It’s now 7,000 strong, and growing.
And since the R-Rated “Deadpool” just blew the roof off the R-rating box-office record, given how the Business of Show works, there will be an immediate hollering from studio heads: “Give us more of that!”
Currently all the other cash-crops are doing well, soon there will be a harvest of “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” You know how it’ll go: Those two will bash each other super-heroically, and then become friends. It’s PG-13 after all.
Then, May 6, 2016, there’ll be more Marvel-harvest: “Captain America: Civil War.” Cap and Ironman are going to smack each other around too—bashy-bashy!
Mining the R-Rating for Box Office Gold
But what qualities, within the confines of an R-rating (but not necessarily “Deadpool” specific) can they duplicate and graft onto a fresh, new, R-rated superhero, who can then smash “Deadpool’s” box office record? The usual stuff, of course: hyper-violence, cursing, nudity, and sex. So who’s next?
“Captain America: Civil War” will be the debut of Black Panther, starring the career-hot Chadwick Boseman in the role. Black Panther will then get his solo movie, due out July 6, 2018.
But in the wake of “Deadpool’s” R-rated romp to the top of the box office numbers heap, it could very well be the case with “Black Panther” (whose name is just ridiculously cool) that post-“Deadpool” Hollywood will ask if it’ll have an R-rating. And if the director (who may or may not be Ava DuVernay of “Selma”) says no, Hollywood might, a la Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed & Confused,” say, “It’d be a lot cooler if you did …”
Because Hollywood will now be thinking “R” equals dark, and dark equals money, and Black Panther is dark, and the black actor, well, he’s dark too, and all that blackness and darkness is “just so money it doesn’t even know it.” Right? Paint It Black! Rate it R!
Who Else is R-Rated Money and Doesn’t Even Know It? Here are 5:
It’s been done already, like “Deadpool” had been done already, but Todd McFarlane, who spawned Spawn, has wanted to develop of a new film thereof, and now that “Deadpool’s” paved the R-rated way, it’ll probably now get written with the gritty depth those gritty fans want. Consider the gritty backstory:
Lt. Colonel Albert Francis ″Al″ Simmons, USMC (Ret.), was a highly trained and decorated Marine who was promoted high up in the black ops division of the CIA. He started questioning the morality of that dark world, which caused someone to hire Simmons’s friend and partner to kill him. Once dead, Simmons goes to Hell, because while in the CIA he knowingly killed innocents.
Simmons makes a deal with the devil; in exchange for his soul, he’d get to see his former wife. But when he returns as Spawn to the human world, five years have passed; he’s a demonic creature now, with his memory erased.
Spawn faces gangs and street thugs, becoming a dark, brutal anti-hero and killing a pedophile and child murderer. Around this time, Spawn becomes “King of Rat City,” a network of alleys where winos, junkies, and the homeless live. Does it get any darker?
Only foreseeable problem: the main ingredient that makes “Deadpool” so hot, is humor. Hard to see humor anywhere in the above.
2) The Punisher
This is just obvious. The Punisher is strongly a part of American culture by now. Chris Kyle, most decorated U.S. sniper of all time (“American Sniper“) was in SEAL team 3, which used the Punisher skull as their emblem. The Punisher’s had gritty R-rated movies made about him before, but clearly no one’s gotten it right yet. It would appear to be time.
The Punisher’s a vigilante who murders, tortures, kidnaps, extorts, coerces, and threatens violence in his war on crime, using conventional war weaponry. He’s driven by the deaths of his wife and two children, who were killed by the mob. A U.S. military war vet, Frank Castle is a martial arts master, as well as being highly proficient in stealth tactics and guerrilla warfare. Dark enough for ya?
3) Swamp Thing:
Swamp Thing also had a shot at movie fame, but also clearly no one’s gotten it right yet. Who is he? Well, Swamp Thing’s basically a humanoid mass of vegetable matter, who fights to protect his swamp habitat, the environment in general, and humanity from various supernatural and terrorist threats. Which actually sounds quite virtuous. So maybe not him. But then again, he’s rather gnarly-looking, and gnarly is potentially dark and R-rated. But maybe the ent-like, tree-ish “Groot” from “Guardians of the Galaxy” has all our Swamp Thing needs covered already.
A Lobo movie has been rumored to happen for a while now, but doesn’t seem to be in Warner Bros.’s current line-up. Post-“Deadpool,” Lobo may be ready to howl. Since Jason Momoa is already experienced in playing a super hero (Aquaman), and wrote, directed, and starred in a motorcycle movie, “The Road to Paloma,” (Lobo rides a motorcycle) where his character was named “Wolf,” and he played a wolfman recently in a movie, called, guess what? “Wolves,” Momoa might have dibs on Lobo. Actually, from the look of it, Momoa’s been campaigning a while now to corner the Lobo market. If that is indeed what he’s up to, it’s a prime example of what it takes to compete as an actor in Hollywood.
Batman has always had what it takes to be a dark, gritty movie character, problem was, they started off with Jack Nicholson as the Joker (“Wait’ll they get a load of me”) with a Prince’s “Party Man” on the soundtrack, and have had to slowly darken down from that neon silliness. Hitman can take the nastiness of Gotham City to new lows. Hitman goes where Batman doesn’t.
Tommy Monaghan was an ex-Marine Gulf War vet. Now he’s a contract killer from the Cauldron, a lower-class Irish district of Gotham City (same as New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen used to be). He gets bitten by a parasite and instead of dying, he gets x-ray vision and some minor telepathic supernormal abilities, and turns into Hitman.
Well-well. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of human art. It used to be all the rage to depict gods. Remember that? Halos everywhere? I particularly liked the winged Mesopotamian Bull-gods with the turbans and the ZZ Top beards. But today—look at all these dark names and dark themes; thusly we spiral down into madness! Mo’ muhn-ay! More money brings the demons out of their caves. This could be the future, this could be all we see in the movies, exclusively—straight-up depictions of demons; all demons, all the time. What happens when torture and mayhem become mainstay entertainment? How’s that going to affect us all? Stay tuned …