Can Superheroes Serve Two Audiences?

Can Superheroes Serve Two Audiences?

The future of superheroes may be rated R.
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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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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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