Can Superheroes Serve Two Audiences?

Can Superheroes Serve Two Audiences?

The future of superheroes may be rated R.

After the success of R-rated superhero movies like Logan and Deadpool, audiences are coming to the realization that superhero stories can be directed at multiple age groups, not only children. While this is frequently treated as a new phenomenon, it is anything but.

These are hardly the first R-rated superhero movies, so why are they perceived as game-changers for the genre? For starters, many R-rated comic adaptations do not feature superheroes, like Sin City or Road to Perdition. There are plenty of films based on comics that do not feature superheroes. Those that do focus on superheroes are usually based on comic book properties that have always featured adult content, like Watchmen or Kick-Ass.

Logan and Deadpool, however, are based on characters that have often been marketed towards children or adolescents. There has long been a perception that superheroes are "kids' stuff," and therefore limiting a big budget film's audience to adults seems risky. These films are far from the first attempts at R-rated superhero movies, but they are the first to succeed so spectacularly. Deadpool is one of the highest grossing superhero movies ever. Logan may not reach such heights, but its doing quite well regardless.

With a Deadpool sequel on the way and Warner Bros' rumored interest in R-rated DC projects, the film industry is apparently convinced in these films' financial viability. On a positive note, it seems that comic book movies are finally catching up to the variety that has characterized comic books for years. Deadpool and Logan may share a rating, but they are tonally very different. Unbound by the restrictions of PG-13 blockbusters, superhero movies can be self-aware revenge comedies, gory character-driven westerns, or anything in between. Superhero movies need this kind of variety in order to avoid audience fatigue.

However, there's a clear tension between how these characters are presented in comics and films and how they are marketed. Though they can be seen in films spouting profanity and disemboweling people, these characters still appear in child-friendly merchandise ranging from action figures to cereal boxes. We may have escaped from the perception that superheroes belong exclusively to children, but the idea that they now belong to adults is equally limiting.

It could be argued that a character like Wolverine, whose powers entail sustaining and dealing out grievous bodily harm, was never appropriate for children. Even with the blood and language censored, Deadpool is still an amoral murderer, not an upstanding role model. Or we could listen to Alan Moore, the man that helped lay the groundwork for adult-oriented superhero stories, who now says that adults should leave these characters behind and focus on the real world. R-rated movies have more freedom to explore certain themes and tones, but that doesn't mean that every R-rated superhero movie is inherently superior to its PG-13 counterparts.

As it now stands, superheroes are awkwardly torn between two groups of devoted fans that have little in common. It has been suggested that this tension could be resolved by releasing multiple versions of a film simultaneously. This idea may be intriguing, but it would be a major expense for film studios and likely result in an inferior version of the filmmakers' intended cut. It's also against MPAA rules, which would require the R-rated cut to be removed from theaters before the PG-13 cut could be released. There simply is no easy answer to this issue.

R-rated superhero movies do admittedly place parents of young children in a difficult position. However, filmmakers, like artists of any kind, are not obligated to cater to the audience's wishes. Even in this age of on-demand interactive media, film-goers may have to accept that no film is meant for everyone. Of course, if you want your five-year-old to see an alcoholic mutant stab a man in the head in slow motion, that's your business, bub.

Cover Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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