Disney's 'Stuber' might not have succeeded but the studio shouldn't stop making R-rated films
Despite good performances from the cast, the hyper-violent buddy movie has failed to live up to its hype
When it was announced that Disney's first R-rated release in over half a decade was going to star Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani, audiences were understandably excited. Unfortunately, since its release, 'Stuber' has not exactly proven to be the instant hit people expected it to be.
Despite good performances from the cast, the hyper-violent buddy movie has failed to live up to its hype. For starters, the premise — a muscle-bound maniac commandeering an Uber for a wild goose chase — feels too similar to 'Deadpool'. And while that movie more than justified its R-rated release, ‘Stuber’ doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Of course, Disney can’t be held completely responsible for the movie’s poor showing. 'Stuber' was produced by 20th Century Fox before their merger deal with Disney. So, the House of Mouse's only real role in the project was distribution. That said, the movie’s failure is bound to make the studio think twice before risking another R-rated adventure.
After 'Deadpool', it became clear that gratuitous violence in comedy works quite well with audiences. This is sparked a whole trend of R-rated flicks of which ‘Stuber’ is only the latest. The movie not living up to expectations doesn’t necessarily mean that that doesn’t work anymore but even if it did, that’s no reason for Disney to not venture into the Rated R territory again.
There are plenty of potential movies in the media house’s catalog that would do well with an R-rating. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe alone, characters like Moon Knight and the Punisher would do extremely well if they were adapted for adult audiences, even though the MCU has so far stuck to family-friendly entertainment. After the Fox merger, Disney now has access to a whole bunch of new characters, many of whom would thrive with the added freedom that comes with an R-rating.
In the coming phases of the MCU, Disney could consider an R-rated Marvel movie featuring a character like Blade or Ghost Rider. While the ‘Ghost Rider’ movies have historically failed terribly, the MCU has reignited interest in the character with an appearance on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and a spin-off series in the works. A movie version of the Rider is unlikely at the moment, there are more characters in the comic book giant’s stable like Werewolf-By-Night, Hyperion and the Cosmic Ghost Rider who would kill it in their own R-rated romps.
With reports suggesting that DC might go forward with a new Black label for movies like the Joaquin Phoenix ‘Joker’ movie which will be more mature and outside of the main continuity of DC movies, Marvel will have to find a way to match the competition or perish.
‘Stuber’ might not have earned its 5-star rating but Disney shouldn’t let one small stumble ruin the potential for many great movies in the future. The real take-away from ‘Stuber’ shouldn’t be that R-rated films don’t work, on the contrary, the problem with the movie was that it tried too hard to justify its rating. There are plenty of stories waiting to be told for adult audiences and they don’t all necessarily involve comedic violence.