Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.
Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.

Could the X-rated factor save Superman?

Cartoon violence is all very well but, apparently, what works better is real violence.

With news this week that The Joker has become the highest-earning DC Comics film, overtaking the likes of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, comes news that DC is considering making more R-rated superhero movies.

In one way it's a smart idea. Marvel has the mass market seemingly sewn up with its blend of humour and action, while DC movies tend to sink under the weight of their own seriousness.

The hopeless Suicide Squad and the plodding Justice League didn't appeal to the tween market much anyway - so why not go the whole hog and play up the darkness?

Margot Robbie's new look for Birds of Prey. Picture: Instagram
Margot Robbie's new look for Birds of Prey. Picture: Instagram

Variety magazine reports that the new Margot Robbie film Birds Of Prey and the rebooted Suicide Squad will both be R-rated, with more projects aimed that way.

With the obvious exception of Superman, DC's heroes do tend to be a bit darker than the Marvel ones, so I reckon it's a smart way to go.

After all, Marvel has been bought out by Disney and while the House Of Mouse used to be quite happy to make films with racist connotations such as Song Of The South and Dumbo, it's never been comfortable with bad language and excessive violence.

I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.

The new Batman series seems like a natural fit for an R-rating, even if the first one probably won't be.

Most superhero fans are that bit older anyway. And while watching Batman punch a baddie to the accompaniment of a "Biff! Kapow!" effect was amusing when you were 10, it's laughable when you're 40. They don't call him the Dark Knight for nothing, so play it up, revel in it.

But even an R rating is not going to save Superman. Let's face it, the Man Of Steel is dull and no amount of polishing can save him.

Christopher Reeve as the lantern-jawed superhero in 1996.
Christopher Reeve as the lantern-jawed superhero in 1996.

Even reportedly recruiting Michael B Jordan (Creed) to step into the cape can't change the fundamental flaw - all that square-jawed American goodness was fine and dandy last century but now it turns our stomachs.

We want flawed, conflicted heroes, not ones fighting for "truth, justice and the American way".

And what is the "American way" these days anyway? Fixing up America's multiple Middle East muddles?

A black Superman would generate all the required controversy and Jordan is a brilliant actor but it would take some serious work to make Superman interesting. It's going to be tricky to give him a R-rating when he doesn't even like hurting his opponents.

Plus they've already wasted the two most interesting villains in General Zod and Lex Luthor, so they'd need to come up with something spectacular.

Luckily I have a brilliant idea - let's really embrace the R-rating. And maybe even take it up to an X-rating.

Maybe Superman can't be too violent but he could get raunchy. Who wouldn't be interested to see if he really is the Man Of Steel?



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