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Comic Characters Who Need an R-Rated Movie

Last year’s overwhelming critical and box office success of Deadpool, coupled with that of this year’s Logan, has taught us — and studios — one thing for certain: that what audiences really want to see are comic characters without all the censorship that a PG-13 rating entails.

Sure, we love ourselves some clean, snarky Avengers fun. Sure, we’re always down to catch a viewing or two of the darker DC films, paling in comparison as they may to their Disney-fied counterparts. And sure, we’re willing to overlook the generally watered down versions of our favorite Fox characters for the sake of wider audience reach.

But the time has come to embrace our inner darkness. Our foul-mouthed, gratuitously-violent, ass-kicking comic heroes (or antiheroes, as the case may be). Because not every comic character is — or should be — kid friendly. Some comic characters are just born for adult entertainment.

These seven characters are those kind of characters. The kind that require an adult chaperone whilst purchasing a movie ticket. The kind we don’t have to take our kids — or our friends’ or siblings’ kids — to the theater to see.

These are our kind of comic characters.

DEATHSTROKE (SLADE JOSEPH WILSON)

Publisher: DC Comics

First appearance: New Teen Titans #2 (December 1980)

Created by: Marv Wolfman // George Pérez

As the OG “Terminator,” Deathstroke was granted superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, and accelerated healing factor, thanks to a secret military program set up during the Vietnam War. He’s also a master martial artist, hand-to-hand combatant, swordsman, marksman, and tactician, thanks to his own personal badassery. He’s one of the best mercenaries in the DC universe, and he happens to do it all with only one eye, which is a hell of a lot cooler than James Cameron’s Terminator, in our humble opinion.

LOBO

Publisher: DC Comics

First appearance: Omega Men #3 (June 1983)

Created by: Roger Slifer // Keith Giffen

Lobo was essentially DC’s answer to Marvel’s Wolverine, an alien mercenary and bounty hunter with superhuman senses, strength, speed, stamina, and healing factor. He loves violence for the sake of violence, drinking, and space dolphins, but will never go back on his word. For all intents and purposes, he’s a killing machine with a certain brand of moral code, one which would be rather impossible to properly portray in a PG-13 film.

THE JOKER // HARLEY QUINN

Publisher: DC Comics

Joker:

First appearance: Batman #1 (April 25, 1940)

Created by: Bill Finger // Bob Kane // Jerry Robinson

Harley Quinn:

First appearance: Batman: The Animated Series “Joker’s Favor (September 1992)”

First comic appearance: The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993)

Created by: Paul Dini // Bruce Timm

Sure, we’ve seen Joker and Harley Quinn plenty of times on screen (their last endeavor being the sloppy mess which was Suicide Squad — sequel coming 2019), but we haven’t seen them in a proper R-rated film. And no, we’re not going to talk about The Killing Joke, which was a complete and utter travesty on nearly every level. Truth be told, this couple’s relationship is so fundamentally f*cked that to accurately portray its psychotic depths would require no less than a hard R.

SABRETOOTH (VICTOR CREED)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

First appearance: Iron Fist #14 (August 1977)

Created by: Chris Claremont (writer) // John Byrne (artist)

Sabretooth is the longtime nemesis of X-Men member Wolverine, having been rivals since the two were forced to participate in the Weapon X program during the Cold War. Like Wolverine, Sabretooth has superhuman powers, a regenerative healing factor, and animal-like attributes, including retractable claws. Unlike Wolverine, Sabretooth is pretty lacking in the conscience department, and doesn’t have much of a problem killing people just for the fun of it. But since Logan finally got his R-rated movie, why not give ol’ Victor Creed a shot at his own?

SPAWN

Publisher: Image Comics

First appearance: Spawn #1 (May 1992)

Created by: Todd McFarlane

Yes, Spawn has already gotten an R-rated film. But hear us out here: the 90s were not a good decade for comic characters. And although Spawn was darker than most, it still felt, well, pretty damn cartoon-y. Sorry, John Leguizamo, but you are just not cut out for serious villainy. No, Spawn deserves a proper reboot — one in the same vein as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, which could fully realize his demonic potential on-screen.

RED HOOD (JASON TODD)

Publisher: DC Comics

First appearance: (Joker): Detective Comics #168 (February 1951) // (Jason Todd): Batman #635 (February 2005)

Created by: Bill Finger

While Red Hood was originally an alias used by Joker at the beginning of his criminal career, it wasn’t until 2005, when former Robin Jason Todd took the mantle that the character truly took off. And it isn’t just because he was first tortured and murdered by the Joker before being resurrected by Ra’s Al Ghul in the Lazarus Pit, although that does tend to change a man’s perspective on things. It’s the fact that Jason was once so close to Batman — hell, he was trained by him — that makes his subsequent war against the Dark Knight so emotionally engrossing. Plus, the guy has zero problem actually killing criminals (and cops, if they happen to get in his way), which doesn’t exactly make for PG-13 material.

SWAMP THING (DR. ALEC HOLLAND)

Publisher: DC Comics

First appearance: (Alex Olsen): House of Secrets #92 (July 1971) // (Alec Holland): Swamp Thing #1 (November 1972)

Created by: Len Wein // Bernie Wrightson

Let’s be real here: if we were to ever get a big screen version of Swamp Thing — a shapeshifting plant monster with the ability to communicate telepathically with nature — he would have to be R-rated, just so audiences would actually take him seriously. The fact that he’s often affiliated with master magician John Constantine certainly helps his reputation here, and honestly, we wouldn’t mind a film in which the both of them kicked a little (or a lot of) demonic ass together.