It's been a great few years for the team at Marvel Studios. They've had a string of box-office hits topped off with one of the biggest films of all time in The Avengers, and they're just coming off a set of big reveals at San Diego Comic-Con. But some fans are still asking if the superhero juggernaut will ever take their flicks into more mature territory, and the studio's co-president has an answer.
In an interview on the company's latest box-office successes and big plans for the future, Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito was asked if the company would ever opt for an R-rated take on any of its heroes. So far both Blade and The Punisher have been given the R-rated treatment, but not under the Marvel Studios banner, which has so far focused on launching and maintaining PG or PG-13 franchises with lots of box-office potential.
But would the company ever consider it, even with lesser-known characters and smaller-budget films? Based on D'Esposito's answer, probably not.
"We discuss it. We have a lot of characters that can fit nicely into a smaller-budget film, but to get through all the noise of all the other films you have to spend a lot of money," he said. "So if you're spending that money, you're gonna want to spend it on a franchise film. It's economics. Do we have the bandwidth to do a smaller film while we're doing two tentpoles? There's a lot of decisions and a lot of things we have to answer."
That's definitely not a no, but it does seem like Marvel is only focused on more family-friendly, tentpole-based flicks for the foreseeable future, particularly in light of all its Comic-Con announcements over the weekend. Of course, that might not stop other studios working with Marvel characters from going R-rated. Rumors of a hard-R Deadpool film continue to swirl, after all. And even if Marvel isn't keen on it now, that doesn't mean they won't be further along in their development schedule, because as D'Esposito notes, they're always looking for more heroes.
"We need a bench. You just can't have Cap, Thor and Iron Man on the bench. So we go through the books, we have a development team, we're choosing what's the easiest and the best to take from book to screen and what would make a great story and a great character. Obviously we start with character first. We have great characters, and we're actively doing that, as we speak here right now."
Just in the last week we've officially learned that Marvel's "bench" now includes Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, as well as Falcon. Who else might be added next? Black Panther? Doctor Strange? Ms. Marvel? Time will tell.
What do you think? Is it time for Marvel Studios to venture into R-rated territory?