Is Deadpool’s R rating under threat at Disney?

When Disney merged with Fox, a lot of X-Men fans were excited to see Disney and Marvel Studios reboot the franchise. But Deadpool fans had more doubts. Since the Deadpool movies are staunchly adult-rated and full of edgy humor, they don’t exactly fit with the Disney brand. Would Deadpool get to keep his R rating?

At first it definitely seemed safe, because Deadpool is a hugely successful phenomenon in its current form. During an investors’ call in May, Disney boss Bob Iger assured everyone that Deadpool would still be rated R at Disney. But now, things look a little less certain, beginning with a recent interview with Deadpool 2 director David Leitch. Speaking to Yahoo! News, Leitch suggested that Deadpool could easily work as PG-13.

“It’s rated R so that’s not necessarily the [MCU] brand but he doesn’t necessarily need to be R and [Disney] don’t necessarily need to only make PG-13 movies. I think we’ll find a happy ground.”

That’s definitely a “we’re keeping an open mind” kind of answer.

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Then on Monday, following the most recent Disney investors’ call with Iger, Variety editor Brent Lang remarked that there are now internal debates about whether Deadpool can “move seamlessly” to a PG-13 rating in the MCU. If Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool does move to the MCU (which seems likely, regardless of age rating), then he’ll probably be the only survivor from Fox’s X-Men franchise, which lost money at the box office with Dark Phoenix this year.

For some fans, Deadpool’s R rating is sacrosanct. But there are plenty of arguments in favor of a PG-13 rating, including the obvious fact that most Deadpool comics are not actually adult rated. Like DC’s Harley Quinn, he’s a character with a lot of adult appeal and a cult following, but who also appears in material aimed at kids, and can be depicted in a pretty wide variety of ways. The creators of Deadpool 2 actually released a PG-13 edit last Christmas, cutting the more extreme violence and adult jokes, and adding a couple of characteristically self-aware scenes to explain why the story was now family-friendly.

It’s also worth remembering that if Deadpool ever shows up in a Spider-Man or Avengers movie, he’ll have to follow their PG-13 rating anyway.

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Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor