The commercial and critical success of Deadpool and Logan demonstrated there's an audience in the modern era for R-rated superhero films, even if Marvel Studios appears a little hesitant to follow Fox's lead. However, as the fledgling DC Extended Universe begins to find its footing. Warner Bros. is signaling it may be more willing to take that leap.
Toby Emmerich, the New Line Cinema veteran elevated in March to president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Pictures, reveals there could be an R-rated DC film in the studio's future.
Acknowledging, in Variety's words, that he "admires violent, irreverent and very adult comic-book movies" like Logan and Deadpool, Emmerich said, "I would be surprised if we didn’t at some point make an R-rated DC movie."
Now, whether that's a sign such a project is merely in development, or simply that executives are considering the possibility, will undoubtedly fuel plenty of speculation. However, Emmerich's comment follows an anonymously sourced report from March that Warner Bros. is "100 percent" open to an R-rated DCEU release.
As Variety notes, the new studio chief is interested in further differentiating the DC Extended Universe from the more established, and more successful, Marvel Cinematic Universe. While more adult-oriented fare might help to do that, such a move certainly has its pitfalls. After all, the first three films in the DCEU -- Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad -- were widely criticized, at least in part, for their dour tone.
That said, as Deadpool demonstrated, an R rating doesn't have to mean "dark." Something like Gotham City Sirens, the planned Suicide Squad spinoff led by Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, could take its cues from the Merc with a Mouth. On the other end of the spectrum, there's Justice League Dark (or is that Dark Universe?) which could benefit from the leeway of a "mature" rating in its exploration of the horror-tinged supernatural corners of the DC Universe.