After a string of misses — either critically, at the box office or both — it looks like DC has finally found its stride. Wonder Woman broke new ground. A superhero film starring a woman that’s not only beloved by the hardcore fanbase and critics, but also grossed over $US 800 million worldwide. A year later, Aquaman became the first-ever DC film to gross over $US 1 billion since The Dark Knight Rises. But as we all know, it’s Joker that changed the game big time. Nobody on earth could’ve predicted that the $US 55 million film would go on to do as well as it did at the box office, not even when it won the coveted Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, the first time a comic book movie has ever won it. But a couple of months in, and Joker has grossed over $US 1 billion at the global box office, the first R-rated movie to ever do so.
So, this does beg the question: Where does DC go from here?
Well, it looks like we’ll be getting more R-rated films. According to Variety, Warner Bros is now gunning for both Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad to receive a similar MPAA rating as Joker. However, there will be differences in tone, of course. Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn will not be as bleak as Joker. Instead, it will be as the marketing campaign has suggested so far, a colourful, highly energetic girl-group outing film that’s just not suitable for kids. As for James Gunn’s Suicide Squad reboot titled, The Suicide Squad, the R-rating makes perfect sense, especially considering Gunn’s work outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise (Super, Slither).
This is actually really great news. As far as mega fit-for-all-ages superhero universes go, there’s no touching Marvel. Unless something drastic happens, Marvel Studios will continue to dominate this area until the end of time. In a time where people have started to question whether there are too many superhero movies, DC can standout and find its own audience in the R-rated zone. However, I hope that Warner Bros isn’t trying to artificially engineer their films to hit the R-rated mark by throwing in a bunch of dick jokes and f-bombs, just as a marketing stunt. The movie should dictate the rating, organically like Joker, and not vice versa.
Birds of Prey is set to hit theatres February 2020. The Suicide Squad is set to hit cinemas in 2021.