Popular Franchises That Should Be R-Rated

When it comes to your favorite franchises, sometimes you can't help but wonder what they might be like if they were done a little differently. Or maybe they don't follow the source material as closely as you'd like. It's fair to say that some IPs can work in many ways, but what popular franchises are there that deserve to be a little darker?

Are your favorite franchises being held back by their family-friendly nature? Would they wield far more potential if they were given an R rating? Let's take a look at those that definitely deserve that no-holes-barred certificate. We're not saying they aren't great as they are - we just think that darker and more violent additions to the franchise would be equally welcome.


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You might be wondering why Batman is even on our list. After all, there are dark versions of the caped crusader - just take your pick. Batman has been done in so many different ways over the decades too, and almost all of them have worked incredibly well. We've had the camp Adam West version from the '60s, the gothic iteration from Tim Burton, the super-cheesy futuristic George Clooney movie, the gritty and grounded Dark Knight trilogy, and more recently Ben Affleck's Batman, which was inspired by the extremely dark Frank Miller graphic novels from the '80s.

So to suggest that Batman has never been dark is completely untrue. But then why add him to the list? Well, we happen to think that the Bat of Gotham can always be a little darker. If the likes of the graphic novels and even the Arkham games are anything to go by, there's plenty of darker territory yet for our favorite crime fighter, and an R-rated movie, or even a live-action TV show, would go down well with fans, to no doubt whatsoever. It's not as if Batman is a stranger to violence, but seeing something more along the lines of The Punisher would make a whole lot of sense.

The Batman (2022) certainly looks to be a lot darker than Christopher Nolan's trilogy, though, but we don't need to solve a riddle to work out that it will be widely accessible, and that an R-rating would jeopardize its chances of success in movie theaters. Fortunately, Batman is a property that will forever be rebooted, just like James Bond, so it's very possible that we'll get to see the Dark Knight unleashed (that's actually a pretty great name for a movie). For now, we'll just have to make do with the graphic novels and the animated movies they've inspired over the years.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

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We agree that this is a very odd entry, but the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers are no strangers to violence, either. We're not talking about all the complaints the original '90s show got from angry parents who didn't want their kids taking up amateur karate in the backyard (but were happy all the same to indulge them with the action figures) - we're actually alluding to a hyper-violent fan-made movie that graced YouTube a few years ago, which starred Katee Sackhoff as the Pink Ranger and James Van Der Beek as the Red Ranger!

While the likes of Jason David Frank (who played Tommy Oliver in the series and the 1995 movie, best known for his time as the Green Ranger and White Ranger), went on record to voice his disapproval of the short R-rated movie, it actually went down really well with the fanbase. No one had previously considered what a violent version of this extra cheesy superhero team would be like, and then the short film came along and blew our minds. Sure, it wasn't perfect, as it still didn't quite know how to let go of some of that cheese, but on the whole it was so well put together, and boy was it brutal! The official Power Rangers comics are also pretty dark, though nowhere near as adult as the fan-made film.

A TV series not unlike that film could be a huge hit, but we understand that Saban has spent decades making Power Rangers for young children. But now that we original '90s fans are a lot older, it's definitely something we wouldn't turn our noses at. With that said, the 2017 Power Rangers reboot did opt for a more brooding tone than anything that had come before it, but it still decided to have its cake and eat it by shoehorning in some last-minute cheese (it's still a great watch, though). There's really no telling whether a violent version would work, though. We might think it would be a go-go, but it could be a no-no.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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This is yet another IP that you might scoff at, but that's only because you may not know the true origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And we're not talking about mutagen and sewers and rats and so on - we mean their real-world origin, which dates all the way back to 1984 when co-creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman first created the awesome foursome for an underground comic book that quickly became an overnight phenomenon, resulting in the popular '80s cartoon series, waves upon waves of toys, and to date six theatrical movies and a whole bunch of animated reboot shows.

But let's take a step back and talk about those original comics. While they would eventually be published under IDW Publishing, the comic books were originally released under Mirage Comics, and after that Archie Comics. And those original comic books were as dark as you could possibly imagine. There were no colored bandanas, and the turtles were depicted entirely in a gritty black-and-white, and their ninja alter egos were relentless and unforgiving - you only need to read the very first volume to realize just how little they're willing to tolerate their arch nemesis The Shredder.

Now, Nickelodeon owns the property, with live-action movies being directed by Michael Bay. It's not all bad, though. In fact, we think the latest movies get a bit of a bad rap. Compared to some of the old movies, the news ones are masterpieces. But we're not here to argue about the quality of TMNT movies - what we want is a hard R-rated reboot, whether that's a movie or a TV show. If you've ever seen movies like The Raid or John Wick, you'll probably agree that seeing the turtles done in a similar style would be pretty spectacular. And also pretty long overdue.


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Of course we agree that this is the weirdest entry on the list. After all, the other three already have darker counterparts. But Ghostbusters getting an R-rated makeover? Really? Well, it's interesting to consider, to say the least. We all know that the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife by director Jason Reitman is set to continue with the tone, themes and, ahem, 'spirit' of those original two films - which is just great, because we're so excited to finally be seeing the long-awaited threequel in the franchise - but what if Ghostbusters was given a much darker treatment in the future?

Our best point of reference for this is probably the '90s animated show Extreme Ghostbusters, which was a gritty follow-up to the original '80s show The Real Ghostbusters. It was still watched by kids, of course, and while it wasn't all that great, it did have a darker tone and overall feel than its more family-friendly predecessor. But with that said, maybe avoiding the supernatural sci-fi element that makes Ghostbusters what it is could be a smart move if the property was to be given a darker and more serious overhaul.

Again, whether a movie or a show, Ghostbusters could easily work if the rating was ramped up. And it wouldn't necessarily even need to feature any Ghostbusters. Perhaps a character or more who are budding Ghostbusters, or at the very least paranormal investigators. The show could also focus on what it's actually like to be a victim of a haunting or paranormal possession, which would undoubtedly be truly exhausting and debilitating. So, who ya gonna call for this kind of gritty makeover? Sony, hopefully. For now, it's just a case of waiting to see just how much horror Ghostbusters: Afterlife has in store.

Related: Will There Be Another TMNT Movie? 2021 Updates and Everything We Know So Far About the Next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Movie

Fortunately, there's plenty to choose from within these popular franchises, and they each also have new upcoming movies. Whether or not any of them will be darker than their predecessors, though, remains to be seen - but either way, we can't really complain that we're getting more of the things we love. But should the studios decide to experiment a little, it might be worth looking to the comic books for some inspiration.

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