When the MPAA released that “Deadpool” would receive an R rating, I was ecstatic. Finally, we were getting the real, comic-book version of Deadpool: A dirty mouthed, murderous and twisted character with a taste for booze, sex and anything unethical. However, there are others, like former Marvel writer, Grace Randolph, who are less than overjoyed. After hearing about an 8-year-old boy who begged his mother to take him to see "Deadpool," Randolph has launched a petition to have a PG-13 version of the film be made available for a younger audience.
And I can see why! Deadpool is a perfect role model for children. Written as a cynical antithesis to Marvel bigmen like Spider-Man, he possesses none of the morals that Captain America teaches and quite literally is deranged. Who can forget such child-friendly moments as the time he murdered the entire Marvel Universe, or when he was a peeping tom, or the time he cut the f*cking Hulk's head off? The point is, Deadpool is not written for children. Sure, there is plenty of childish humor and whimsy, but that material is wrapped within a context of a comic series filled with gratuitous violence, sex and foul language. Just because Deadpool tells a poop joke every once in a while doesn’t mean it’s for kids. There’s a silly pun in Pulp Fiction; does that mean the movie is intended for children?
But this goes into a further point: Comics are not entirely for children. Sure, there are certain comic runs specifically made for children, but not since the '60s has the industry’s major demographic been children. The average comic book reader is over the age of 18, and very often older than 35. The industry has catered for a long time toward this demographic, with more serious and story-driven runs like Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” or Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” The simple fact of the matter is this: Just because there’s a superhero in it, does not mean it’s for kids.
And it shouldn’t be either. More adult-oriented comic writing has given some of the most poignant social commentary in modern fiction. “Watchmen” and “V for Vendetta” are not for children, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. A great character to demonstrate the importance of adult-driven storytelling in comics is Death from the Sandman series, a god who brings the recently deceased to the afterlife. While she may not be the most appropriate for children, she has made me think about my own life more than once. Triple A heroes can also have adult problems, like Tony Stark’s alcoholism, or the death of Robin. With the right writers and artists, comics can portray morally complex and dark characters and stories.
This is not to say that children should not be reading comics at all—far from it. I think every child ought to be issued their own issue of Detective Comics No. 1 on their fifth birthday. I grew up loving Spider-Man and Justice League Unlimited, and I made some of my best friends through furious debates over whether Superman or Batman would win in a fight (answer: Batman). However, what I was reading was age appropriate. I worked my way from Super Friends to Watchmen (my first R-rated movie). What I’m trying to say is that everything has a season. If your kid loves cars, should he be able to drive? That same logic is applicable to comics. Like any other form of media, there are different comics for different ages, and Deadpool is definitely not for an 8-year-old. So sure, you can get a PG-13 Deadpool, right after I get my R-rated Batman film.