Could A Black Widow Movie Be Rated R?
For a long time there have been rumors and announcements with Marvel’s development of a solo film featuring Black Widow. The character has appeared six times in other MCU movies played by Scarlett Johansson for the past nine years. The Russian super spy turned American hero has intrigued audience members and many people have demanded that ScarJo get her own movie where she isn’t treated as a side character. Recently another interesting rumor has surfaced stating that the Black Widow movie could be the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be rated R.
We first saw the life action incarnation of the character in 2010. Natasha Romanova helped Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. However she was meant to have her own solo film years before the MCU ever existed. In 2004 Marvel made a deal with Lionsgate to release several movies based on their characters. Most people will remember the first film released from the deal, The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane. Although the movie has a cult following, the film wasn’t successful and Lionsgate dropped majority of the other movies lined up. One of which being a Black Widow solo film. Years later Marvel decided to launch their own studio and films, starting with Iron Man. They decided to double down on the S.H.I.E.L.D aspect for the sequel and include the character who missed her shot six years prior. Originally Natasha was meant to be played by Emily Blunt, but do to a scheduling conflict, Scarlett was able to step in and the rest is history.
The character of Natasha Romanova was created by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck in 1964. Her first appearance was in Tales of Suspense #52 as a protagonist to Iron Man. Throughout the years she was featured in many other comics including Avengers, Inhumans, and Dardevil. She has also had a few commercially successful solo runs that show the story of a young girl who was kidnapped and trained by the Russian government to become a spy and cold-blooded killer. Her origins have been highlighted slightly in Avengers: Age of Ultron, however the world still wants to see her story and how she came to become one of the good guys. Currently the plot of the upcoming film appears to be just that; After the fall of the KGB, the Russian government is hunting down and killing all of their active agents. There is no word on other Marvel characters yet to join the film but Hawkeye and Winter Soldier would make sense given the setting.
I’m going to be honest, I think I’ve seen this movie before. Red Sparrow, Atomic Blonde, Salt, etc. The ‘female bad-ass agent that takes on Russia’ plot isn’t exactly a new concept. I also haven’t seen, or even heard of anything, from the director, Cate Shortland, and screenwriter, Jac Schaeffer. Apparently an earlier version of the screenplay was written by David Hayter who was the writer of X-Men and The Watchmen, as well as voice of Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid video games but that has nothing to do with his writing talents, however I’m not sure how much of that original screenplay has survived. I also want to say that although Scarlett Johansson is still one of the sexiest women alive at 34, along with Marvel having the best de-aging graphics in the business, I’m not overly confident I can buy her being a teenager. The feeling is even worse if Jeremy Renner (48) and Sebastian Stan (36) are in it. However I still reserve the right to be blown away and it’s partly because of a possible R rating.
The origin of the rumored adult rating for the film came from a tweet by a comic book writer/artist Charles Murphy who appears to have had some level of insight when the movie was being developed. There is no verification on this but that hasn’t stopped the masses from assuming it is a fact. I honestly think it’s very unlikely for the MCU to take the risk of making their very first R rated movie off of a character that has already gathered a following of fans from the several PG-13 rated movies she has appeared in. However, I don’t think it is an impossibility either.
Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the MCU, and Bob Iger, a clone of Walt Disney, have both stated at separate times that an R rated superhero movie could exist. This was mainly stated after the announcement that Disney had bought out Fox and all of their characters (One of those characters being Deadpool). Fox has already proved with Deadpool and Logan that R rated superhero movies could be successful, and profitable. On the other side, DC released and R rated version of Batman vs Superman as well as a very adult TV show starring the Teen Titans and both have huge fan followings. The buzz around the rumor for a Black Widow R rated film should be enough to have the people at Marvel consider it. Along with the fact that the character kind of needs to be treated like an adult.
From what few glimpses we have into Natasha from the other films, we can tell her backstory is dark. She brings up “red in her ledger” multiple times in Avengers. She was abducted, tortured, and mutilated in order to become a killing machine. Aside from the violence, sex, and swear words that come with the R rating, we also get something much better, to be treated like adults. The reason why Logan is such an amazing film is because of the adult themes in the film. Yes, the violence was cool, but there is a certain level of freedom a director has when they don’t have to worry about audiences getting a laugh or worrying about costume designs for toys. A Black Widow could be an amazing film that lasts the tests of time if her character is given the respect she deserves.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you what a movie should or shouldn’t be. The MCU, along with many other films, have already proven they can make great films with a PG-13 rating. The director should have the freedom to create whatever film she fucking wants to make. I think that as an adult, I personally want to see a film that cares more about telling a grim and satisfying story full of depth and brutal fight scenes. But I will likely go see it regardless of its outcome. Scarlett Johansson is a respectable actress and I doubt she would sign onto anything that she didn’t think was going to be good. Also Marvel hasn’t gotten where it is by making movies that audience members wont enjoy (aside from Thor: The Dark World). I just believe it would be a possibly better film by what it will represent.
It looks like Disney is becoming a powerhouse that cannot be stopped. Their movies continually break records and gain fans of all ages. But stagnation and separation is a really thing in the eyes of audience members. I think if Marvel did want to consider moving into superhero films that were rated R, like they did with Blade, then starting with an established character would be the right move. If their first R rated movie is Deadpool 3, it would come off more as a cash grab. However with the Black Widow, it would be a message that they are doing it because it is what the character deserves. That they stand beside their creator’s choices. If the MCU want’s to change the superhero genre once more, they could in fact make an R rated Black Widow movie, while at the same time adding black to their ledger.
Rumors read and insights written by: Troy Smith