Now that superhero films have become a mainstay in modern cinema, it’s safe to say that they are family-friendly and generally cater to wider audiences. Movies like Captain America and The Avengers have steered clear of graphic language, sexual themes, or even extreme violence since these movies try to appeal to children. Yes, these two movies don’t shy away from death or action scenes that may require adult supervision. But generally, production has tone everything down in order to gain its PG 13 rating.
Recent releases such as Deadpool, Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service have challenged the norms of superhero films found in the market. These movies have violence, gore, and explicit sexual themes in it, and to no one’s surprise, they have been given strict R ratings. But in a rather amusing twist, these movies have found success despite the limited audience.
Whether it be comic book adaptations or stand alone movies, ExploreTalent has rounded up the best R-rated superhero films over the years below.
1. Deadpool (2016)
When Ryan Reynolds signed up to play Deadpool for Wolverine:Origins, his performance and the character in general were forgettable. He then went on to do another superhero, this time from the DC Universe, namely Green Lantern. But once again, the movie panned in the box office and did not sit well with critics. However, Reynolds wasn’t one to give up. He once again made a gamble and starred in 2016’s Deadpool. The movie wasn’t just a hit for critics, but found box office success as well.
2. Kick Ass (2010)
While the second installment of Kick Ass did not find the same success as its predecessor, the first movie was an unexpected hit. It is based on the comic book series of the same name, and for those who don’t know, the story follows a teenage vigilante who doesn’t fill in the basic superhero stereotype. The movie doesn’t shy away from comic violence, displaying the genre in its grittiest form. It’s also hilarious and colorful, making it one of the best superhero movies of all time.
3. Blade (1998)
Blade may be one of the older movies on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less likable than the newer ones. Actor Wesley Snipes plays Blade, a vampire hybrid bent in protecting the human world from vampires. It has the classic good-versus-evil theme to it, but what makes the movie a standout is that Blade is one of those early superhero films that tackle on the supernatural.
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
True, 2015 proved to be a slow year for superhero movies, but Kingsman managed to receive both critical and commercial success in the box office. People have praised it for its style and unique blend of superhero action and James Bond references.
Technically, most superhero films are set in the United States so it was a relief for audiences to see the genre go across the pond for a change. The movie was such a hit that director Matthew Vaugh has announced a sequel to be made.
5. The Crow (1994)
So maybe The Crow wasn’t about your typical superhero, because he was more of an anti-hero type. But regardless of that, this movie was so popular because of its visual style and gritty story line. Ironically, this was the same movie where lead star Brandon Lee lost his life in an on-set accident involving a defective bank.
The movie is all about Lee’s character Eric Draven who sets out to avenge the violent rape and murder of his fiancee.
6. Watchmen (2009)
Before director Zack Snyder brought to audiences the critically panned Man of Steel and Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice, he had done the movie adaptation of Watchmen first.
The story line was complex but well paced, and there was significant character development along the way. In true Snyder fashion, the movie did run for roughly two hours, but still a lot of critics have praised the movie for its unique take on the superhero genre.
7. Robocop (1987)
Robocop is the only movie on this list that did not originate from a comic book, but it did give birth to a graphic novel franchise after the success of its release. The movie was a little too violent for the eighties and it did satirize the American government as well as big corporations, gaining a lot of controversy in the process.
The heroic part-man, part-robot creation that is Robocop continues to have a loyal following until today, spanning a 2014 remake, numerous action figures, and a television series.