In 1983, the world was introduced to the “merc with the mouth” in the New Mutants #98 comics. It would be over two decades later when Deadpool would finally make his live-action debut in X Men Origins: Wolverine. Surprisingly, the “merc with the mouth” didn’t have much to say in the comic book film. After the backlash that the Deadpool character received in the Wolverine movie, Wade Wilson would be given another shot, but this time in his own solo movie, Deadpool.
At this time, R-rated comic book movies were rare. While Zack Synder’s 300 and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City did pretty well, none of those movies came close to the insane box office numbers that Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy or Sam Raimi’s Spiderman films did. Watchmen, which carried a huge budget of $120 million, bombed commercially with only a $185.3 million return. Off a $58 million production budget, the R-rated film stunned with an opening weekend of $132.4 million, and Deadpool would go on to make nearly $783 million worldwide. Its sequel, Deadpool 2, another critical darling, made a good amount as well, bringing in over $785 million worldwide.
In 2019, Disney ultimately brought Fox and the Deadpool franchise had an unknown future going forward. Despite the movie’s massive success in theaters, Deadpool doesn’t exactly fit the Disney brand and there were rumors that Disney executives were looking to make Deadpool 3 PG-13. The third installment is reportedly a go, but the “merc with the mouth” may undergo some drastic changes to fit the Pg-13 rating. With that in mind, can a Pg-13 Deadpool movie work?
Here’s the thing, any movie can work at a PG-13 rating, including Deadpool. The first two Deadpool films wouldn’t even have to change the scripts because clever editing can hide most of the gory violence. However, there’s no denying that Deadpool works better with an R-Rating. The guy is a mercenary. His job is to kill. Add in the fact that Wade Wilson doesn’t exactly have a PG-13 mouth then the chances of killing off Wilson’s unique characteristics are strong. Say what you will about the violence but Deadpool is a freaking psychopath, so him gleefully slicing and dicing his victims is apart of who he is. Deadpool just isn’t meant to be a PG-13 character. He’s not Captain America or Spiderman; Meaning that he isn’t a clean-cut protagonist with a high sense of morals.
Stripping away the R-rating will take away what made the comic book hero unique in the first place. Deadpool stood out because of his gratuitous over-the-top violence and dark humor. I understand Disney’s position. The company likely wants to revert Deadpool down to PG-13 because they want EVERYONE to see this movie. If Deadpool can garner nearly $800 million with an R-Rating then the possibility of Deadpool 3 reaching $1 billion worldwide is high if the young crowd can check out the movie too.
The best example is Live Free or Die Hard, which made a solid $383.5 million worldwide. This is the highest-grossing film in the franchise, which also happens to be the only PG-13 installment in the series. Die Hard 4 didn’t even get close to the billion-dollar mark; however, the point is that more money can be made if Deadpool switches over to PG-13. However, this move could also backfire for Disney as well. Expendables 3, Robocop 3, Terminator Genysis and Salvation, are just some examples of movies making significantly less than their rated R predecessors. Disney is taking a big gamble by possibly removing the uniqueness of the franchise.
With Deadpool going PG-13, the floodgates of a multi-verse crossover are stronger than ever. We’ve seen X-Men in past Deadpool films but the likes of Spiderman (who he has an interesting love/hate relationship with Deadpool in the comics), or any of the current Marvel characters popping up in a Deadpool movie could actually sway the fans who hate the rating change to give the PG-13 movie a try. All-in-all, there are different variables on why a PG-13 Deadpool may or may not work business-wise. As previously stated, any movie can work under the PG-13 rating. It all comes down to a good script. However, slapping away the R-rating from the Deadpool franchise will indeed take away what made the films so special in the first place. Disney shouldn’t take away the R-rating, but it’ll be interesting to see how the franchise functions if they do.