Film News

Deadpool & The Plight of the Parents Wanting a PG-13 Version to Go Along with the R-Rated One

If you are someone who pays attention to these kinds of things, it feels like the internet has been begging Hollywood to make an R-rated major comic book movie for years, if for no other reason than to shake things up and keep comic book movies from growing stale. Now that Hollywood, specifically 20th Century Fox with its edgy Deadpool movie, has complied the internet changed its mind, politely asking, “Could you also maybe release a PG-13 version?”

At least that’s my initial reaction to the news that YouTube star, part-time actress/comic book writer Grace Randolph started a petition asking Fox to release a more kid-friendly PG-13 version of Deadpool so that the character’s younger fans can have a chance to check out what looks to be the Merc with a Mouth’s defining cinematic moment (because we’ve all agreed to never speak of his appearance in Origins: Wolverine ever again).  It’s sort of like this:

The best part of Deadpool being R-rated is that it does the character justice instead of shaving off the sharper edges just so parents can take their little kids.

The worst part of Deadpool being R-rated is that parents can’t or really shouldn’t take their kids to see it.

Deadpool and his anarchic ways holds a certain appeal for all ages, and not all of his prior iterations have been so R-rated. For example, he took over an entire episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, and was clearly the traditional, fourth-wall breaking version of Deadpool but toned down to fit into a children’s cartoon. However, the new Deadpool movie has taken the position from the start that a sanitized version of the character which kids can see already exists in Origins: Wolverine. This new thing, though, is going to be the real, R-rated deal, likely pleasing everyone who’s argued that the tyranny of the PG-13 rating has ruined action movies (like here and here).

Not all comic book movies should kowtow to four quadrant pressure, but outside of the occasional Mark Millar adaptation (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service) they mostly do because their budgets demand that they aim for the widest audience possible. As such, Deadpool is supposed to serve as an example of the type of risk the studios should be more willing to try. It goes against the current industry thinking, but it does so because Deadpool demands an R-rated adaptation. It’s risky enough that Fox is leaving potential money on the table in the second biggest market in the world since China has officially banned Deadpool for being too violent.

Again, it kind of breaks down into two viewpoints:

Yay to everyone who made Deadpool for doing something out of the ordinary!

Boo to everyone who made Deadpool for making something which looks so good little kids are desperate to see it!

In fact, Grace Randolph started her petition because she received a letter from the mother of a disappointed 8 year-old Deadpool fan who wanted but was not going to be allowed to see his favorite character on screen. Randolph figured there might be a workaround if Fox could maybe re-cut the movie into two different versions.

deadpoolYeah, that’s not going to happen. Asked about the petition at a recent fan gathering, Ryan Reynolds joked that if they tried to make a PG-13 version out of the footage they have, “That would be a very short movie. It’s almost a commercial at that point.” If it was possible the Chinese censors would have been able to edit around all the violence and produce a version of the movie which would please their local decency laws. They would have to do some truly last-minute re-shoots to get a PG-13 out of this, which seems unlikely.

Reynolds at least appreciates the frustration of a mother who wants to make her Deadpool-loving kid happy, “People are ragging on her – I think that’s an awesome mom. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to see 9 ½ Weeks, but my mom didn’t make a petition!”

When you actually have a kid in your life who loves superheroes it inevitably alters your views on comic book movies. To the film fan, Deadpool is an incredibly interesting experiment which sure as heck looks like it will deliver. To the parent or uncle, it’s that movie our kid keeps asking about, begging, “Please take me to see that!” I heard that three or four times from my 8-year-nephew this past weekend on a family road trip. I saw my older brother straining to help his son understand that not all comic book movies are meant for little kids, giving him the slightest bit of hope, “If they release a PG-13 version then maybe we’ll see.”

That is the plight of the parent with Deadpool. For little kids who’ve grown up in a post-Iron Man world, the superhero toys, cartoons and movie trailers all conspire to make you feel like everything’s been made for you. It must be strange encountering something where that’s not the case. How that is resolved is ultimately left to the discretion of the parents. Before I was 10 I saw R-rated movies like Terminator 2 and Aliens 3 in theaters. I loved the former, had nightmares because of the latter. What will become of all the kids who want to see Deadpool? I don’t know, but they’re probably only going to have one option: R-rated.

Source: DenOfGeek


    1. Yeah, there is an obvious solution to this problem…just tell the kids no. It’s just that as an uncle to a superhero obsessed 8 year old I am repeatedly exposed to just good Hollywood is at getting these kids to want to see these things. So, I can empathize with those parents hoping a petition can solve the problem. This is why it is nice to have cartoons to turn to. When my nephew was too young for man of Steel I showed him justice League lego cartoons and old episodes of Superman the animated series. Guess there is not an option like that for deadpool.

      1. Isn’t Deadpool an r-rated comic either way? So why exactly are those kids read this stuff anyway?
        A better question would be: Why did those children see a trailer which was surely only shown in front of PG-13 movies? Well, I guess, there is the viral marketing, but I don’t think that an 8 year old should be active in social media unless it happens on a very limited and controlled basis.

      2. I can tell you that as far as my nephew is concerned it’s not like he’s read the comics or watched the trailers online. He just saw commercials for it on TV multiple times over the weekend, while we were watching the NFL playoffs on normal TV and during The Simpsons on Hulu. It wasn’t really anything out of the ordinary. Heck, at one point we walked into a restaurant on the drive home, and on the one of the TVs they had mounted to the walls a Deadpool commercial just randomly played during an ad break for whatever they were showing. It was like we couldn’t escape the Deadpool commercials all weekend.

      3. Wait, the NFL playoffs and The simpsons are shown before 20 oclock in the US?
        Here in Germany, we have cut-off dates for this kind of stuff. You won’t see certain things before a certain time. R-rated movies are only allowed after 23 o’clock, everything beforehand is either PG-13 or cut into PG-13 (yeah, never watch the PG-13 version of The Rock, it makes zero sense). Beforehand it’s a little bit more fluent, but I don’t think that I have ever seen a trailer for a PG-13 movie before the evening.

      4. It’s a little more fluent over here. There used to be something called the Family TV hour, but not so much anymore. That being said, there are probably plenty of restrictions I don’t know about, and it’s not exactly like you’ll see age-inappropriate content airing at all times of the day. However, you’ll see movie trailers you sometimes wouldn’t expect to, and as far as The Simpsons are concerned that was actually something we watched through Hulu which obviously has its own set of rules as a streaming service instead of traditional broadcast/cable network.

  1. Certifying movies like this is such an interesting topic and has been on my mind a lot lately. Deadpool isn’t such an issue for me, it’s one of the lesser known characters and it’s not like the toy shelves are stuffed full of Deadpool toys and games. So my boys (8 and 5) haven’t been bugging me about it. BUT, I live in a country that gave Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 13 rating, which here means no child under 13 can watch it, not even with a parent. That suuuuuuucks! (Yes I know I wrote a comment a few months ago that I never cared much for Star Wars but bear with me here 😉 ) every person on the planet, kids included, have been bombarded with advertisement and merchandising for Star Wars and then you have to explain to your kids that they actually can’t watch it. 1st world problems (actually I live in a 3rd world country) but it’s still bewildering. It would be awesome if every single superhero/blockbuster movie was available in a version for kids, but that obviously isn’t feasible. I just wish that the organizations behind these decisions were less all over the place sometimes.

  2. Here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, this movie is rated 14+. Meaning that anyone 14 yrs. old and above can go without any parental consent or Adult accompaniment. For this reason I, very wrongfully, made the assumption that this was a movie that I could take my 14 yr. old daughter and her friend to! Why anyone would rate this movie less than R is absolutely beyond me! This was Marvel meets Tarantino meets Porn! I would pay 100 times the ticket price to be able to Un-see this with my daughter but sadly I don’t have a delorean to get me there. 😦

    1. A 14+? Wow. It’s absolutely an R. At the very least, Canada should have given it an 18A. When I saw here it in the states with a sold-out, Saturday night crowd, there were a surprising number of teenagers there, usually accompanied by one random adult. There was certainly plenty of uneasy shifting in seats when Wade walked through the strip club with topless women all around, surprisingly less during the violent parts. However, if any of those parents emerged from the screening angry you could also counter-argue “It’s rated R for a reason.” A 14+, though? That’s a mistake. As you said, the movie is like “Marvel meets Tarantino meets Porn.” I happen to actually like the movie, though, but if I took my kid because my country gave it a lenient rating I’d walk out plenty annoyed too.

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