No matter what Rob Liefeld thinks, we're not sure that Deadpool needs an R rating. But there are some characters we're dying to see in salty, untamed R-rated action. Here are five comic-book heroes whose movies shouldn't be for kids.
1. Green Arrow
So. Much. Sex.
So much sex, and so much idealistic political discussion, and a little violence — but mostly, so much sex. This movie should leave everyone feeling like they spent two hours back in their college common room, trapped in a meeting with trust-fund socialists because their roommate had left a sock on the door knob. Again. Although most of the heroes in comics have had a few romantic entanglements, Green Arrow has cemented his reputation as the biggest horndog in the DCU. The guy has been around so much, it's a running joke. During the Mike Grell era of Green Arrow — arguably the best known Green Arrow run — he even became the first mainstream hero to show his wang. Every other story in that run was Dinah and Ollie getting it on. There's just no way to really film a Green Arrow series without loading it up with nudes. It needs to be like the Dirty Harry series in the seventies.
Some will argue that there have been plenty of family-oriented takes on Green Arrow. That's true, but those takes generally focused on his romantic relationship with Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. His JLU appearances were all about it. His animated short on the Under the Hood DVD was about him proposing marriage to Dinah. Even his occasional appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold have included his romantic history. The guy can't get away from romance. If his movie is going to be about anything but his relationship with Black Canary - and most movies don't do superhero team ups, let alone couples - it needs to be drenched in sex.
2. Emma Frost
I don't think there's a chance that a movie about Emma Frost could be made without an R rating. Even with an R rating, I'd be reluctant to go see it, because I don't think it would earn its R. There are a lot of stories about a bad girl gone good, and they're mostly terrible. A sexy lady vamps her way around a villainous world, but never actually has sex with any villains. She talks about the bad things she's done, but doesn't do anything that bad. She gets an assignment she refuses — to blow up a bus full of nuns, or even better, to kill a kid. Instead she takes the kid under her wing, and by the end we can see she has a heart under her tough exterior.
That's not Emma Frost. Emma Frost goes from evil to good, not bad to nice, and the R rating should reflect that. When she's a villain, she needs to really be a villain. Her actions in that part of the movie alone should earn the R. When she's a hero, she needs to still be the person she was before. What makes Emma admirable is her unsentimental pragmatism, especially when it comes to beauty and sexuality. She shouldn't vamp around. If she wants someone, she should have them. If she doesn't, she should use her sexuality to eviscerate them. Either one should be awful and uncomfortable to watch, not titillating, the way most movies do it. If it's done right, there shouldn't be a single nude scene, stripping scene, or sex scene in the film, and yet the movie should barely escape an NC-17 rating. This character should be scary.
3. The Authority
Do I really need to say why a movie about these characters should be an R-rated movie? Really?
Let's start with the smoking. I understand why smoking shouldn't be shown to young kids, but you can't make Jenny Sparks a nonsmoker. (Yes, I'm proposing going back to Jenny Sparks, the Spirit of the Twentieth Century. It'll be a period piece.)
And then there's the guys kissing. Everyone knows that Apollo and the Midnighter are a gay couple in the comics. In a movie it might be kept under wraps until the kiss near the end, the way it was in the first trade. Still, the way movies are these days, if there are guys kissing and it's not a comedy, it's an R rating.
Finally, there's the gore. Sometimes I think people overstate the violence in The Authority trades. Much of it is actually pretty tame, since one of the characters, The Doctor, kills half the people in a battle by turning them into trees with no gore at all. Even more violence takes place off-panel. It's only suggested before the comic skips to another scene. But then there's The Midnighter. This guy learned combat by watching the Mortal Kombat video games. Heads ripped off bodies with spines trailing behind. Hearts ripped out. Eyeballs flying everywhere. There's no getting around that. That needs to be R-rated violence.
4. Nick Fury
This is another no-brainer, really. Spy, grizzled World War II veteran, the head of a secret task force meant to do what no one else can do; there is no aspect of this guy that should be given a PG-13 rating. He can barely maintain the rating when he's lurking on the fringes of other people's movies.
There's no gimmick or special provisions on this one. I don't think Nick Fury has to be as excessively crude as he's sometimes written. I don't think he has to be especially violent, or oversee something too morally questionable. I just think that any honest and entertaining look at the character has to incorporate language and scenes that would make a movie earn an R rating.
5. Wonder Woman
Yes, I know that she's supposed to be as compassionate, wholesome and chaste a character as could ever be portrayed by Lynda Carter. But that's not right. Even if we put aside the fact that she was created, in part, to be a walking bondage fetish, there's still the fact that she walks right out of Greek mythology.
I'm not going to pretend that anyone reading this hasn't also spent a significant portion of their childhood reading Greek myths. Even though those childhood tales were made suitable for children, it's obvious what they were about. Murder. Sex. Greed. Jealousy. Ambition. Freaky incestuous gods. Theirs was a world in which saying goodbye to everyone you've ever loved and embarking on a long perilous journey in an attempt to escape your fate meant that you ended up marrying your own mother. A world in which gods turned into swans and women turned into cows.
This is real blood and thunder stuff, and the thing is, it doesn't even have to change Diana's character. In fact, it can strengthen her character. Compassion and statesmanship look bland when compared to Batman's "I am vengeance, I am the night" speech. When they stand against the incredible, vicious, passionate drive of mythology, they become more human, more interesting, and more complex. If any movie should be given an R-rating for quality purposes, this one should.