So far the DC Extended Universe has been comfortable keeping its theatrically-released movies rated PG-13, but that may change soon. Last week, it was reported that Warner Bros is supposedly amenable to making R-rated movies. No doubt the performances of Deadpool and Logan at 20th Century Fox has caused individuals at the studio to re-examine whether or not DC could experience similar success. While it's never a good idea to force an R-rated tone on a comic book character if they're not naturally suited for it, DC does a fair amount of characters who fit that bill. That's why we've gathered the folks who would be naturals for leading a rated R movie within the DCEU; most of whom, we admit, don't fit the regular superhero mold.
To clarify, the entries here will be only be individuals rather than whole groups, although Suicide Squad 2 and the upcoming Justice League Dark movie would lend themselves well to an R rating. This list also won't include characters who've already led their own movies in the past, so John Constantine, Swamp Thing and Jonah Hex will have to make due with being honorable mentions.
If Warner Bros and DC are looking to have a Deadpool-like success, Lobo is their best shot at making that happen. The "Main Man" is one of DC's most violent and brutal characters, but he's also one of their most hilarious ones, too, because of his cocky attitude and being a walking pastiche of the stereotypical "gritty" superhero characters. Lobo is one of the many movies currently in development for the DCEU, and last we heard, Wonder Woman co-writer Jason Fuchs was penning the script (which thankfully will feature classic Lobo rather than that New 52 wannabe). If the DCEU wants to do this character justice, they would be wise to make his movie R rated so the alien bounty hunter is free to unleash a lot more violence and profanity during his intergalactic adventures.
A Deadman movie would be less of a superhero adventure and more of a supernatural mystery tale. Boston Brand was originally a circus trapeze artist, but after he was murdered during one of his performances, his spirit lingered on to figure out who killed him, and he was given the ability to possess any living being. Deadman wouldn't have the same level of action as something like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but in the search for his killer, Boston would have to at least poke his nose into the criminal underworld, meaning his shootouts are guaranteed. Throw in a little mystical creepiness from the forces that kept Boston's spirit around, and there's enough material to warrant Deadman getting that R rating.
While Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, is a notable adversary to many DC Comics superheroes, some of his actions over the years have also painted him as more of an anti-hero, so he just barely makes the cut for this list. Deathstroke is set to be played by Joe Manganiello in the upcoming Batman movie, and depending on how he is received by audiences, he could easily be given his own movie. If that happens, he can't be confined to PG-13 territory. This man is a mercenary who will travel the world to kill anyone for the right price. Blood will spill, guts will fly and heads will be shot. Fighting Batman may not be that gory of an affair, but when he's the one in the spotlight, Deathstroke will need more creative room to be his best self.
Right now Nightwing is the only Batman spinoff movie in development, but the Caped Crusader's world has no shortage of characters who could also be spun off. When looking through the R-rated lense, Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman, would be the perfect Bat-hero for such a movie. While she is certainly considered part of the overall Bat-Family, Kate frequently goes adventuring on her own or in other corners of the DC universe, so there's enough space between her and the other "family members" that a Batwoman cinematic tale could easily get away with the added violence and more mature material. Rather than have the heroine fight a crazy, fantastical super villain, Batwoman could go up against particular organized crime figures to give the movie a more gritty feel and keep the budget at a reasonable level.
Since the CW DC universe doesn't feel the need to adapt The Question into live action, why doesn't the DCEU bring him into the fold? This is one of those heroes who doesn't need to have deep ties to the Justice League or more traditional and fantastical superheroes. Sure that blank face of his is unusual, but aside from that, Question is a normal person fighting crime using deductive reasoning and natural fighting skills. As with a Batwoman movie, The Question doesn't need to fight fancy villains in order to lead a compelling story. It would be more interesting and unique to see the faceless vigilante solve a murder case. Although Vic Sage was the first Question in the comics, the movie could a different path and tell a legacy story by introducing Vic as the first Question, but then during the story, he passes the mantle to GCPD officer Renee Montoya.
Just like in the comics, Jason Todd died during his tenure as Robin in the DCEU, and Batman keeps his graffitied costume on display in the Batcave as a memorial. Should the day come when the cinematic Jason is revived from the dead like his comic book counterpart, he needs to venture into more gritty territory as soon as possible. When he was Robin, Jason used a rougher hand with criminals compared to Batman, but upon returning to life and taking the Red Hood guise, his methods became much more extreme. Nowadays Red Hood is an antihero rather than villain, but unlike most of the other Bat-Family members, he has no issues killing bad guys Punisher-style when absolutely necessary. Batman may have gotten away with such behavior in Batman v Superman under a PG-13 rating, but for a Red Hood movie, it'd be wiser to go the R route.
The Spectre's fight against evil and injustice isn't a calling; it's the sole reason for his existence. This entity serves as the Spirit of Vengeance for a higher deity (God, The Voice, whatever you want to call It) and chooses a human host so he can be a fair and impartial judge when dispensing his wrath. Of all the entries on this list, a Spectre movie would feel the least superhero-y, as Spectre's actions and any battle against an equally powerful magical foe would fit more squarely in the supernatural horror realm, similar to Deadman. Much of the imagery and material needed for such a tale could not be shown in a PG-13 movie, so an R rating is necessary to reach the right level of intensity.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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