Wednesday, February 24, 2016
The G*dd*mn, Motherf*ckin' Batman: 'Batman v Superman' R-Rated Home Video Cut Announced
Cue Batman's song from The Lego Movie...
You can't go a mile without knowing that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a thing.
Warner Bros. is really marketing the heck out of this film, as it truly is the start of the DC Extended Universe franchise. It's something of a gamble, but I think people will see it anyways because it's the first time Batman and Superman will share the screen in a big-budget, live-action picture. Man of Steel, looking back on it, was really just a Nolanized reboot of the Superman movie franchise that probably wasn't intended to kick off a universe. Only in post-production did they add little easter eggs that pointed to a larger universe. It feels a lot like a standalone movie because of this, and after it had opened in the summer of 2013, Warner Bros./DC just started work on this very team-up film. They're in a rush to get a shared universe going, after their first attempt to do so (Green Lantern) went over badly.
Anyways, here we are. The film is done, there are three full trailers for it alongside the teaser, marketing is everywhere. Rumors and reports are going around that WB absolutely needs this movie to make over, say, $800 million at the worldwide box office in order to keep the shared universe plan in order. Suicide Squad is pretty much close to completion, that's out in August. Wonder Woman is filming, Justice League Part One is advancing. They intend to release two movies every calendar year, they've got everything lined up, so I can see why they'd be a bit concerned about Batman v Superman.
Yesterday, an interesting - and certainly - divisive element popped up... A cut of the film called the "Ultimate Edition", intended for the film's eventual home media release, is going to be rated R. This is unusual, as most home media cuts of films are simply unrated. It's rated R for "sequences of violence"...
I have a feeling most of the R-rated stuff will concern Batman, as the marketing has shown that Robin died prior to the events of Man of Steel, and that could very well lead us into the Jason Todd/Under the Red Hood story, which arguably treads into R territory.
Other than that, is this a response to Deadpool taking off? It doesn't seem to be, because this rating was actually issued to the film this past September. Director Zack Snyder's output is also mostly R-rated anyway. One of his few non-R films, the PG-13 Sucker Punch, has an unrated director's cut. As a friend of mine jokingly said to me yesterday, there's probably an R-rated version of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole somewhere!
Anyways, how do I feel? I'm not phased. I honestly don't care whether Batman should or should not be R-rated, all I care about is this... Will it work? Will it justify its R-rating? Will it be a good cut of the film? Will the film itself even be good, theatrical or home video-wise, is the biggest question.
I've been cautiously optimistic about this film for a while, because I'm admittedly not a fan of Man of Steel. That film has great ideas and some impressive moments, but I feel that the movie repeatedly shot itself in the foot with its dour, po-faced tone and its dull script. The last two trailers for this film on the other hand show that this apparently won't be an issue. There's humor, thrills, and the characters show a lot more personality. While some are still ragging on the film, saying it still looks all doom and gloom, I think the exact opposite... And again, the dourness and moodiness of Man of Steel is something I couldn't stand! It looks like a lot of fun.
So yes, you can say that I'm legitimately excited for this film. Back in 2013/2014, I would've never dreamed of typing such a sentence...
Anyways, again, the R rating ought to be fit the story they're telling with this extended cut. "Sequences of violence" being the reason doesn't sound quite bad, I get the feeling that there's going to be some bloody shots here and there, maybe a death scene will be rendered in pretty graphic detail, I don't know... But it doesn't sound extreme. More than anything, I just hope this cut is actually adult, and not something made for 15-year-old boys who just want to see R-rated stuff. The same goes for the theatrical cut, too.
The backlash over this decision is baffling to me, though I do understand it somewhat. There is a rush in some areas, people who want to see things get R-rated just because. No kids allowed, you know? That can get very annoying. I don't want to generalize, but I assume a good number of people clamoring for a bloodier Batman don't care about the story, they just want to see a bloody Batman/DC movie. I know the feeling, I was that way when I was 15. I liked R-rated things just because, and I foolishly considered them "adult". Being a writer, I remember committing this same sin when writing stories. Back then, nothing I wrote was below a HARD PG-13. Nowadays, my main concern is the story, no matter the rating. If it truly needs to be R, it'll be R. If not, it'll be what it is.
There is a time and place for a good R-rated movie, and I'm glad that WB is releasing this cut on video. It'll probably be its own edition, so that families who saw the PG-13 version in theaters (yes, families WILL be going to this movie, PG-13 or not) don't accidentally pick it up. They'll probably have to stick a big box on the front cover of the Blu-ray that warns consumers what's in store for them. At least we're getting an option to see a more violent Batman v Superman, so I don't see why people are complaining about the cut even existing when we can very well watch the PG-13 version.
As for more R-rated movies in general and Deadpool's success? I do want more R-rated tentpole-like movies because we've had a shortage of them over the years. Studios, with their usual "conventional wisdom", have this idea that you absolutely need a PG-13 rating in order to get big grosses... But we see PG-13 blockbusters that cost more than necessary bomb anyways, year after year. Just make a movie people want to see, market it right, the whole nine yards. I want to see an R-rated movie boom not dissimilar to how those pictures thrived in the 80s and 90s. Just keep the budgets under control, cover different themes and stories, and get people interested in seeing them!
That being said, studios will probably learn all the wrong lessons from this. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn wisely noted this right after Deadpool soared to a record-breaking $132 million on its opening weekend. We'll probably see an influx of movies that are rated R for no good reason, forgetting that the quality comes first. Balance is everything here. As an animation fan, the American animated movie industry, 90% of the time, is releasing G/PG family films. I want more PG-13/R films, because I want more diversity and I want said films to help people take the medium more seriously. At the same time, I don't want every animated movie to be a PG-13 or R-rated film. Let's have all kinds co-exist, you know? Same goes for live-action.
Anyways, I'll be checking out Batman v Superman, and I'm curious to see what they'll do with the adults-only cut. I can only hope that studios use Deadpool's success as a base to launch good quality R-rated films to break up the abundance of PG-13 movies a bit, but that's probably asking for a lot.
What say you?