Rated R: Why the family-friendly comic book movies are getting very adult

In light of "Deadpool"'s success, now every superhero is jumping on the grown-up bandwagon

Costing just $58 million to produce, Deadpool has become the first runaway success of 2016, so far garnering just shy of $500 million worldwide, and that number continues to grow rapidly.

The surprising thing is that this is a very adult comic book movie - the Irish certification board IFCO stamped it with a 16's rating, with the disclaimer "Very strong violence. Strong sex references and nudity" - whereas most of it's competitors have been given the much more family friendly 12a rating.

Despite only being in cinemas 11 days, Deadpool has already made more money in the U.S. box office than all of the other X-Men movies to date, as well as Batman Begins, and some of Marvel's bigger outings including Ant-Man, Thor and the first Captain America movie.

There have been some adult-aimed adaptations before - 2007 brought the the box-office hit 300, the first Kick-Ass did good business, and Watchmen managed to turn a profit - but both would be considered takes on famous graphic novels, whereas Deadpool was a straight-up adaptation of an actual comic-book. In short, cinema hasn't had anything quite like this before.

In retaliation, realising that a race to the broadest potential demographic doesn't automatically equal the biggest box office returns, other producers of superhero movies are following suit.

The Wolverine 3 is due in March 2017, with Hugh Jackman reprising the role for the final time, and multiple sources are confirming that 20th Century Fox (the same folk behind Deadpool) will be giving the creators leeway to create a Rated R version of the story. Similarly, while this March's Batman V Superman movie (from the same director as 300 and Watchmen, by the way) is set to be given a PG-13 rating (or likely a 12a's over here), it is being reported that the Blu-Ray home version will feature a Rated R cut due to un-excised extreme violence.

While that may be a good call for some projects - Wolverine is a character exposed to extreme violence in the comic books that the movies have so far unexplored, ditto with Batman - this could be the beginning of a slippery slope that will result in nothing more than producers hoping on a bandwagon because it's what's hot right now.

Something similar happened in the late 00's and early 10's, when the one-two whammy of The Hangover and Ted - combined they made over a billion dollars at the box office - had every Hollywood outlet racing to the bottom in search of the next big adult, gross-out comedy. The aftermath included the highly forgettable likes of Bad Teacher, Road Trip, Project X, The Sitter, 21 & Over and countless others.

There are some comic-book movies that almost lend themselves to being adaptation for adults-only - fans of the medium will list of the likes of Spawn, X-Force or Crossed as examples - but we should hope that Marvel or Fox don't cast an eye to rough up the likes of Captain America or Spiderman just because it's du jour to be upsetting to kids right now.

TV has already got a head-start on entertaining adults based on comic-books, as Netflix has managed to do with great effect with the likes of Daredevil or Jessica Jones, and the same goes for The Walking Dead. They work because their stories, much like Deadpool's, were always intended for mature audiences, not because they've been warped into something more explicit or profane just in the hunt for an extra buck or to be taken more seriously.

If Hollywood can keep that in mind - suitable story in favour of suitable certificate - then we can look forward to this being more than just a passing fad.