Hype has been accumulating for Suicide Squad for a while now, but fans took for granted an “R” rating that never came.
The DC Extended Universe is still in the beginning stages, with only one film so far (Man of Steel) establishing any of its canon. But DC fans have already been given a well-seasoned taste of the third film in the universe, Suicide Squad. Through images and trailers, a certain picture has been painted detailing what the film will be like. An entire film about DC’s greatest villains (give or take) with a sharp edge to it, directed by the man responsible for almost exclusively dark, gritty crime dramas.
But as fans grew more and more excited about a truly adult oriented superhero movie, DCEU producer Charles Roven revealed a damning piece of news: Suicide Squad will be rated PG-13.
Suicide Squad should have been allowed to be an R-rated movie, and here are the top 5 reasons why:
4) Being “edgy” ought to mean something.
Since the project’s first announcement, fans and members of the production alike began throwing around the word “edgy” (and other words like it) to describe the film Suicide Squad would eventually be. It has been hard not to get excited about the prospect of (as director David Ayer put it) “a Dirty Dozen with supervillains,” especially considering the superior caliber of DC’s rogues gallery. So it comes as a crushing blow to know all that potential will be stifled by a teen-appropriate rating.
I am now filled with a sense of skepticism that I’m sure many fans share, that the film can actually fulfill all of its promises of boundaries pushed and edges sharpened. Under a PG-13 rating, the boundaries the film will be rubbing up against are much more narrow, and don’t leave enough room for the film to explore the macabre side of supervillains in the same way an R rating would allow. Suicide Squad will have to leave most of the exploration of these characters at a surface level, while only hinting at the darker edge of the narrative.
While none of this points to the film being bad it leaves no room for it to be new or distinctive, which is the point of being edgy in the first place. “Edgy” is a buzzword because it means a movie is able to show something new, some fresh facet of a character or situation we’ve never seen before. And at its best, that means way more than shock value. It means uncovering something meaningful that might not be seen in a more toned-down version of a similar story.
3) This film won’t push past the comics.
DC Comics mostly fit in a “Teen” rating, at least as far as their superhero comics are concerned (with more child oriented content being the major exception). But the Suicide Squad title has served to successfully expand the boundaries of DC’s scope of content. The series gave credence to many typically villainous characters and blurred the lines between DC’s heroes and DC’s rogues with a more mature tone that could appreciate those complexities.
But in order for the film adaptation to make an impression, they have to go beyond even the limitations of the comic, which can’t be done with a PG-13 rating. Suicide Squad the film will likely be able to pack in plenty of violence, age appropriate language, vague sexuality, and the like, but an R would allow the filmmakers the leeway to search for thematic depth without worrying about content limitations. A story about jaded criminals will feel hollow without the ability to explicitly discuss harsh subject matter.
2) Suicide Squad is a different kind of story.
When he announced the film’s rating, Charles Roven attempted to explain the decision as a way to make sure the entire DCEU fits the same tone and fits together as a cinematic universe. This certainly makes some sense, as Marvel is doing the exact same thing with the MCU, and of course Warner Brothers hopes to make its universe appeal to the widest audience in the same way. But DC is not Marvel and Suicide Squad is like nothing either canon has brought to film so far.
The entire purpose of Suicide Squad is to be different. Man of Steel was about Superman, the universe’s moral archetype, and Batman v Superman will see that archetype challenged by another superhero with a specific morality system. Both of these films are about the good guys, the upright citizens of the DCEU and the good they do in the world. So for Suicide Squad to have to match that tone seems wrong. This film is about the bad guys and a whole separate perspective of the universe.
That doesn’t mean that the film can’t still fit in with the rest of the canon. In fact quite the opposite is true. Allowing Suicide Squad to be different than the Supermen and Batmen of the world would heighten the effect the film could have as a companion piece.
1) David Ayer is awesome at making hard-R movies.
Roven makes it clear that Warner Brothers and DC always intended the film to be PG-13 but that may not have been the film’s writer/director’s stance. The story is that Suicide Squad was not a film DC intended for the DCEU, but Ayer organized a pitch meeting and blew the studio executives away with his idea.
You know, all these movies are about defeating the evil alien robot from fucking Planet X, before it destroys the world with its ticking clock. And who the fuck cares? But you do this story about struggle and isolation, and people who have been shit on that suddenly get thrown this lifeline… that’s not so bad… I like to think of this as the Comic Book Movie 2.0.
Ayer’s entire vision is founded on the idea of exploring the personalities of the criminal segment of a superhero universe, and it seems a crime that the film can’t explore that to it’s fullest extent. Considering again David Ayer’s resume, it’s hard to imagine he’d conceived of or pitched a PG-13 film. This is the guy who made Fury and End of Watch.
This raises the concern over whether Ayer was then stifled in the creative process in order to make the film suit a wider audience. Either way, the question stands if Suicide Squad was pitched separate from the DCEU why does it need to be shoehorned in?
Just look at Deadpool
Twentieth Century Fox made fans exuberantly happy when it was confirmed this year at Comic Con that their Deadpool adaptation would be rated R. Deadpool comics hold a reputation as having particularly mature content (especially in the blood and guts category) and fans expected nothing less from the film. To have Suicide Squad go the opposite direction is disappointing.
Not only should DC have seen the opportunity to compete with another Marvel title (albeit one that’s outside the MCU), but also that fans were particularly happy to know the film maintained the maturity they’d come to expect. While the PG-13 rating is intended to keep the audience as large as possible the choice comes at the cost of disappointing the franchise’s original audience.
One bit of good news.
While Charles Roven made it clear the film is meant to be PG-13 he made sure to emphasize the subjectivity of intent. In his own words:
…we’re not dealing in absolutes because while this is business it’s also a creative endeavor, so you want to leave yourself open to changing your mind, doing something different, being inspired, that’s the whole process of filmmaking is you have to allow for inspiration as well as having a road map for what you’re gonna do.
While that doesn’t leave a great deal of hope for the rating to morph into an R, it emphasizes that the story will come first and that is the main concern with this film’s rating. It comes down to what is best to make Suicide Squad the best possible version of itself, which seems to be the R-rated version.