Marvel Studios just released the first full trailer for their Disney+ original show, Moon Knight. He is a truly inexplicable character, the likes of which MCU fans might not be quite ready for. A character that is synonymous with the occult, and some other truly strange stories. While I’m bubbling with excitement at the prospect of possibilities that lay before us, I can’t help but think this show bears the weight of kicking off an era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that deals with more mature content intended for adult audiences.
Up until this point, the majority of Marvel’s content has been classified as PG-13 (films) or TV-14 (series) here in the U.S., but as we move forward there are some confirmed, and some rumored, characters that are best received when allowed to freely operate. Chief among them, the merc with a mouth, Deadpool.
Deadpool has been a huge success theatrically garnering not only adoring fans but earning a significant amount at the box office. So when Disney completed their acquisition of Fox content a lot of fans were left wondering what this meant for the Ryan Reynolds character. Kevin Feige later confirmed that a third sequel was in the works, and yes, it would still be rated R.
Absolutely brilliant news. The clarification was great to hear but it only left me with more questions.
Will this open the door to more R-rated content in Marvel?
Well the simple answer has to be yes, and of course, no. Not all characters suit an R rating, just like some would falter at PG-13. If we’re thinking of characters that could hold their own in a more mature arena then my mind goes straight to Moon Knight, Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, and after Spider-Man: No Way Home, why yes, especially Venom. We are at a point in the MCU where stories are diverging. The cosmos of characters is too large, and the possibility of having an Avengers: Endgame-like crossover event is quite far away. We may not even see that level of cross-over again.
With that in mind, it’s important to consider that not all stories, or characters, are meant for kids, and younger families. Now I’m not suggesting censure, if you believe your kids are mature enough to handle these stories then by all means, that’s your decision as a parent/guardian. No, what I’m suggesting is that there can be a group of characters that exist within the MCU that are geared specifically for adult viewers only, as it’s clear the demand is there. Again, look at Deadpool or at Daredevil. Blade’s world especially is based around demonic beasts that are designed to feast on the life of humans—bloody vampires. Trying to force that into a PG-13 story or visual is workable, but let’s face it, it would thrive better when unrestricted. Moon Knight battled Dracula and Werewolves. He is the nocturnal shepherd of the innocent and a man that is battling a severe case of dissociative identity disorder, and an ex-mercenary. He is battling literal classical horror royalty.
This brings us to the next topic though.
If there is to be more R-rated content for Marvel, where will the streaming rights go?
Disney+ at this point, and Disney in general, has created this image that they are family-friendly, with content for all. So much so that in the U.S. the Deadpool rights are currently on HULU away from the brand name of Disney, and away from Marvel, encouraging that notion of separation.
So, the first logical suggestion would to put this content on Hulu. The Disney-controlled platform has already hosted adult Marvel content with the likes of Helstrom, MODOK, and Hit-Monkey. It’s not much of a stretch to consider and adding actual mature Marvel Studios content would drive more subscriptions and bolster a streaming platform that frankly is looking for a few more tent pole shows to boast of.
Consider this though, simply keep them on Disney+. While in the U.S. Disney only really covers PG-13/TV-14, in Europe, the platform also has an extra landing page called ‘Star.’ Under this option, you can find all of the Fox content including but not limited to the Die Hard franchise, the Alien films, and Logan. Heck, even The Omen is on there. They have a whole horror section. If you’re worried about mixing adult content with family content, then the platform has a mature content pin code feature that would lock anything you wouldn’t want young eyes to see. However, if that’s not a concern you can simply turn it off and all of the content will be available at the push of a button.
Either way you break it down, R-rated content may be coming to the Marvel universe, sooner rather than later. Whether or not it’ll be in Moon Knight or another project, it’s very probable we’re getting closer to that day. While Deadpool 3 is confirmed, it’s highly unlikely that it will exist in a bubble by itself. Financially, it doesn’t make sense, and we’re talking about the company that lives and breathes on interconnected stories and characters.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.