The Best R-Rated Superhero Movies, Ranked | Collider - VRGyani News and Media

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Best R-Rated Superhero Movies, Ranked | Collider

Who says superheroes always have to play nice? It's the old Batman dilemma: After several decades of having a clown whack you with a crowbar, you'd think at some point you'd start saying "fuck" and putting your fist through thugs' sternums. While we've yet to get a hard-R Dark Knight—although Ben Affleck came close!—there's been no shortage over the years of crude, crass, violent, and overall fucked-up caped crusaders on-screen. With the latest, The Suicide Squad, jaw-snapping its way into theaters and HBO Max, we've decided to look back on the best of the best when it comes to R-rated superheroes.

A quick note before we begin: The movies I included couldn't just be based on a comic book, they also had to have some element of a "superhero". The tights, the powers, the revenge arc, the dead parents, etc etc. 300, for example, is a fun blood-bath, but it isn't a superhero movie, no matter what Gerard Butler's perfectly sculpted abs try and tell you. I also "ranked" them because one of my hobbies is getting screamed at by strangers on the internet, but if you're looking for a deliciously wicked good time, you really can't go wrong with anything on this list.

So, without further ado, here are the ten best R-rated superhero movies for when you want your do-gooders to do a little less good.

RELATED: Every Comic Book Movie of the 2010s Ranked, From Worst to Best

11) Punisher: War Zone

Plenty of you out there may already be scratching your head and thinking to yourself that Punisher: War Zone is not a "good" movie and to that, I say you are absolutely correct. But it is a balls-to-the-wall insane movie that demands you watch every batshit, blood-soaked moment starring Ray Stevenson as Marvel's most violent vigilante, Frank Castle. Directed by Lexi Alexander, who turns Frank's revenge-filled world into a neon-lit fever dream, War Zone is pretty much the exact diametric opposite of Netflix's (also very good!) The Punisher; less soulful ruminations on the cost of violence, more blowing up a guy with a rocket launcher to the sound of Rise Against. Come for Dominic West's scenery-devouring performance as Jigsaw, but stay for Doug Hutchison's kidney-chomping turn as Loony Bin Jim.

10) Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is...a lot . It's a whole lot of movie, a whole lot of limb-snapping, a whole lot of headshots and dismemberments and a then-12-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz calling people "cunts" before stabbing them through the chest. The biggest knock on Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s comic is that it's try-hard, and it is trying really, really hard, but to me the movie is best watched as a live-action cartoon. At some point, the over-the-top language and violence become so heightened that it's practically basking in it. And it works, because that's essentially the point of the story: A completely normal dude (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) stepping out of a normal life and metaphorically through the panels of a comic book to experience something completely, inarguably more than your average existence. Plus, I have a personal code where I have to enjoy any film that dresses Nicolas Cage up like Batman and calls him Big Daddy. Them's the rules.

9) Deadpool 2

By the time Ryan Reynold's Merc with the Mouth returned for another go-around in Deadpool 2, you pretty much knew if you were down for the meta-joke, fourth-wall-and-ball-busting schtick. And if you were? Then Deadpool 2 is genuinely a blast, because director David Leitch and Co. didn't add much to the formula other than MORE Deadpool; more Reynolds riffing, more super-violence, more inside-gags that lasted all the way up until the final time-hopping after-credits scene. It doesn't break the mold, but it is elevated above a lot of other silly films with some truly A+ additions to the cast: the endlessly watchable Zazie Beetz as Domino and Hollywood's current favorite grump Josh Brolin as Cable. Plus, man, I'll be damned if the "X-Force jumping to their immediate deaths" gag isn't just really, really funny. RIP Peter W.

8) Darkman

Twelve years before he kicked off his Spider-Man trilogy, director Sam Raimi helmed one of the weirdest, campiest, and—pun extremely intended—darkest superhero romps there ever was: Darkman. Liam Neeson's very first action flick sees him committing 110% to the role of Dr. Peyton Westlake, a horrifically disfigured scientist out for revenge against the people who take away his face and his girlfriend, Julie (Oscar-winner Frances McDormand!) A warning to the lactose intolerant, the cheese level is high here, but in peak-Raimi fashion; truly, you haven't lived until you've heard Liam Neeson dramatically growl the line "take the fucking elephant." The noir-esque superhero genre allowed Raimi to run as wild as he wanted, and Darkman has vibes reminiscent of everything from Tim Burton's Batman, to classic Universal horror like The Invisible Man and Phantom of the Opera, to Raimi's own Evil Dead movies.

7) Brightburn

Time will tell where Brightburn flies as a potential universe-starter but on its own, director David Yarovesky's nasty piece of work hits a bloody perfect sweet spot between superhero and horror. The fun of Brightburn—produced by Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn and written by his brother and cousin, Matt and Mark Gunn—is the way it plays with the tropes. An extraterrestrial boy (Jackson A. Dunn) crashlands in rural Kansas and is raised by two human parents (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman), but instead of growing up to believe in truth, justice, and the American way, young Brendan Breyer instead believes in violently murdering the shit out of people with his laser eyes. The movie eventually morphs into a slasher movie fueled by Kryptonite, and while it never quite surpasses its own elevator pitch, it never really needs to, either. Sometimes the simple premise really is just that killer.

6) The Crow

A movie about a ghost that is actually haunted by a real-life tragedy. Brandon Lee—as in son of Bruce—was injured on-set thanks to a defective blank and later died in the hospital. An absolute shame all around, especially because if The Crow proves anything, it's that Lee was set to be a star. The actor adds a potent, vital energy to director Alex Proyas' gothic tale of revenge. Lee's Eric Draven—still an all-time-great character name in any genre—is murdered along with his fiancee (Sofia Shinas) on October 30th, "Devil's Night", on the orders of gang boss Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), who straight up has the most luxurious hair in film history. (Look at this beautiful mother effer.) One year later, Eric is raised from the dead by a mystical crow and, decked out in the most it-was-cool-in-the-90s outfit you've ever seen in your life, takes revenge on the gang who killed him. The Crow seems cheesier today than it actually is because it's just so earnest, but it holds up thanks to some wonderful visuals and Lee himself, who is magnetic from the jump.

5) Deadpool

After the truly dreadful no-mouth Deadpool debacle of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, desire to see a faithful adaptation of the character built and built until it reached a fever pitch with the release of that test footage. ("Leaked" by someone whose name probably rhymes with Bryan Breynolds.) Expectations were sky-high, and the fact of the matter is we really could not have gotten a better result than Tim Miller's Deadpool. It's just one of those magic things where everything came together; Ryan Reynolds is the perfect Deadpool, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's script has the perfect amount of rapid-fire meta-gags (see: a lot), and overall the film just nails the character. It's the pure, uncut cocaine of fan service. Deadpool isn't the best superhero film, for sure, but in terms of giving the audience exactly what they wanted after years of asking? There's a reason the only R-rated person to out-earn Deadpool is literally Jesus.

4) Watchmen

Sure, not all of Zack Snyder's Watchmen works; there's a lot of fuss over the filmmaker's decision to nix the giant alien squid ending from the original comics, and I've written before about how Snyder's style is almost too cool to really capture the spirit of the source material. But as a film, woo boy, this thing has some serious chutzpah. Snyder brings the work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons to vivid, dynamic life almost frame-by-exact-frame. Kicking things off with one of the best opening credits sequences of all time, Watchmen breaks bones and never really stops, and some of the casting is so pitch-perfect you can't imagine anyone else filling out those tights. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, especially, is an inspired Comedian, as is Jackie Earle Haley as the psychotic Rorschach.

3) The Suicide Squad

It would have been so easy for The Suicide Squad to turn into "Guardians of the Galaxy but Groot does swears." Instead, writer/director James Gunn combined all the toys he's been playing with his entire career—ragtag teams, cartoonish violence, B-movie creatures, a barrage of dick jokes—into an inarguable highlight of the DC Extended Universe. What makes the difference is the film's heart. Gunn very wisely doesn't try too hard to redeem this crew of truly terrible human beings—and one man-shark—but instead points them just enough in the right direction to show all the different ways a found family can change someone. (It helps that they have to stop an entire city from being flattened by an evil intergalactic starfish.) An assassin-for-hire like Bloodsport (Idris Elba) can learn to care just a little, for free; a sewer-dweller like Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) fights for underdogs everywhere; Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), the "useless" member, becomes a whole damn superhero by destroying the past, which is also where Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has officially left the least interesting part of her character; King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), is still a terrifying monster, but that terrifying monster is your friend.

2) Blade

Decades, before there was even the thought of a Marvel Cinematic Universe, an extremely swoll Wesley Snipes beat the shit out of some rave-dancing vampires in Blade and the comic book movie world was all the more badass for it. Based on the character created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan, Blade is pretty much everything the late-90s got right about action in one sharp-toothed bundle. It's got Snipes' iconic one-liner-spouting lead performance, unique fight scenes that blended martial arts with slasher filmmaking, and Stephen Dorff's wonderfully douchy villain Deacon Frost, which might just be the only character name more absurdly perfect than Eric Draven. Blade didn't jumpstart the comic book movie–that would probably be Richard Donner's Superman—but it certainly deserves credit for proving these things could have serious bite.

1) Logan

The thing about Logan is that it transcends lists like this; it's not just one of the best R-rated movies or a top-five comic book movie, it's one of the best movies of the last 20 years, period. A Western epic that still manages to feel intensely personal, James Mangold's film is the gritty swansong that Hugh Jackman's Wolverine deserved after 17 years. The key part of its success is that it isn't just an excuse to have a member of the X-Men say "fuck"; Logan is brutal because it needs to be. We meet a broken down Wolverine and Professor X (Patrick Stewart, heartbreaking throughout) in a future-world turned dusty and mean. But this isn't a slog, either, and that's mostly thanks to an absolutely stunning breakthrough performance from Dafne Keen as Logan's daughter, Laura. Part road-trip movie, part family drama, part dystopian sci-fi, and—miraculously—through-and-through still an undeniable superhero movie, Logan set the bar for what comic book films can do, and unfortunately for those who follow that bar is made of straight adamantium.

KEEP READING: The Best Superhero Comedies of the 21st Century



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