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No, the Black Widow Movie Will Not Be Rated R

Did you really think Marvel would do that?

scarlett johansson as black widow in marvel's the avengers

Apparently, the rumor going around the Black Widow movie was that it would be rated R. This makes little sense to me, as Disney Marvel has never strayed above PG-13. They’ve pushed the limits—see, Loki’s neck graphically snapping in Avengers: Infinity War—but never gone full R rating. Still, apparently Natasha’s first solo outing was rumored to be a super-intense venture that’s for grown-ups only. No kids allowed.

Kevin Feige himself as disproven that, saying to as reported by the AV Club that “It never was going to be. Somebody writes, ‘I hear it’s R-rated!’ And then everybody writes it up.” It’s a great way to point out the problems of just reporting on rumors, but also to debunk the general rumors swirling around the film without actually giving anything away or shutting out any future possibility of an R-rated Marvel movie, since now Disney owns Deadpool.

I can understand why people would want Black Widow to get an R-rated solo venture. She’s a darker character in the comics, and as she says in the first Avengers film, she’s got red in her ledger and she wants to wipe it out. Her comic history has seen her as villain, an anti-heroine, and an Avenger, so there’s material to mine from that isn’t just purely heroic. Plus, her backstory is incredibly dark, which fueled the speculation.

However, Natasha has been a part of the more family-friendly Avengers franchise for too long to ever go fully R-rated. She was introduced as a SHIELD agent turned superhero, and she’s been part of the main heroic family for too long. Little kids like her character, which has been included in many of Marvel’s animated properties as a hero as well.

To shut out part of the audience from a Natasha film wouldn’t work. Too many families would see the Black Widow name and not look at the rating (remember stories of parents taking their kids to Watchmen?), and then there’d be pushback against Disney, and no one wants to deal with hordes of angry parents tweeting about how Disney is ruining childhoods or whatnot.

Besides, it is not a narrative necessity. You can convey the gravity of Natasha’s situation without necessarily going into full visual detail. There’s plenty of thematic material to use, and it would just as well convey the trauma that she has gone through. Marvel films have tackled serious subjects before without becoming graphic, and therefore Black Widow can still be thematically dark without needing an R rating.

Overall, I can sympathize with those who wanted to see their favorite character get the Logan treatment, but Marvel will most likely never put out an R-rated film with one of their main heroes. That cuts out too much of the audience, especially since these films are heavily marketed to kids. At best, we’ll get one well-timed F bomb and some edgy but not too graphic violence, and the film will make all the money at the box office.

Did you think Black Widow would be rated R? What do you want to see in the film?

(via The AV Club, image: Marvel)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.