Approaching nearly one hundred years of stories, Batman has cemented his place in the world of storytelling. His comic books and graphic novels are immortalized in the genre. His films have set the bar of what goes into great comic book films. The same thing goes for animated series based on his lore. And his games are top quality. Very few heroes come close to eclipsing what Batman can do in storytelling. That’s all due to creative teams bringing Batman to new grounds and then putting him back into familiar territory. It’s this back-and-forth that helps keep him relevant and fresh. Yet, despite the innovative and classic stories, there is one territory he has yet to cross. R R-rated territory. Batman has been a part of some of the greatest stories in film and comic books, but he has yet to cross into a darker rating on his one, even if his world is built for it.

Source: The Penguin, Two-Face, Solomon Grundy, The Joker on DC YouTube Channel by Charles Torres

Over the years, DC has set up Batman’s world and lore as dark, grim, and daunting. Gotham City itself is riddled with crime, criminals, and super criminals. A city that sees murder every day and criminals prone to barbaric acts to keep, obtain, or steal power. Criminals, like The Penguin or Black Mask, resort to cruel torture to get what they need. Killer Croc is a living monster who eats people. Zsasz is a proud serial killer. And, of course, The Joker puts everything and anything on the table to create as much death, chaos, and pain as possible.

An R rating could help Batman as well. This is a man who is tormented every day of his life. Cruel demons eat at him at every moment of every day. Batman is a man who plays with the theme of having sold his soul to the devil, and it plagues him and weighs him down. An R rating could help the narrative go down dark and twisted avenues for a psychological film. The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, took cues from Se7en for the tone of the film. An R-rated Batman film could take notes from Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, to display a grim telling of psychological torment, a perfect theme for a Batman film. The mature rating, again, could give more room to explore this tone without holding anything back or taming it. Creative teams have used different sub-genres to lay under the main story of Batman films, but this one has only been seen seldomly. A movie fully dedicated to it will push Batman into another, new territory for a Batman film. In addition, Batman is a graceful fighter, but there are evil intentions behind each hit. Although he doesn’t kill, the hits he delivers are brutal. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Arkham series have shown that Batman doesn’t back away from breaking a few bones to down an enemy. His attacks are ferocious and inhumane. Putting his dark psychological fight and brutal fighting skills together, an R-rated film could illustrate Batman as something he tries to project: a monster utilizing fear. Another fresh route a Batman film has yet to go.   

Audiences are in need and are currently enjoying R-rated stories. The Boys and Invincible are considered some of the best superhero stories on television, even having that Rated R flare. Logan and Deadpool reenergized the superhero genre by being Rated R.  Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, was a groundbreaking film in the long run of superhero movies by fully embracing a mature tone, showing that an R-rated Joker can and does work. Perhaps another interpretation of Joker in this spotlight could progress the character even more by pushing the bar further. R-rated superhero stories have worked. And the world of Batman is tailor-made to adopt that rating. With this trend, it’s a bit head-scratching that Batman hasn’t had his own live-action outing since he has kinda cornered the market, so speak, in the dark superhero genre. And he has already been in a handful of R-rated stories, from The Killing Joke animated movie to Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The backing and pieces for this type of film are there.

Source: Batman on DC YouTube Channel by Charles Torres

Now, there is a delicate balance that needs to be found when making a movie of this caliber. It can’t be too edgy and grim for the sake of doing just that. There needs to be purpose and reason why – within the world, it’s being told – it ventures down that tone. If done poorly, it would come off as an angsty attempt to do something fresh instead of creative and bold. No Batman movie should ever come off as an over-saturated, moody atmosphere that seems to be a parody of itself. That will instantly drive away audiences. That’s why there needs to be a purpose. But once that purpose is found and used naturally, Batman could finally get a part of a superhero sub-genre he has had a large hand in creating.