Stop me if you’ve heard this in the last two months. “If Disney takes over Deadpool they will ruin it!” As fans and studios alike move closer and closer to the finalization and execution of the Disney takeover of Fox, comments like this have been all over social media. There seems to be this idea that Disney is a family-content only entity that will not tolerate anything outside of the strict PG-13 box that they have built. The fear is that such an approach will ruin the edgier tone that Fo has slowly developed over the last several years of their X-films. Will the addition of the X-Men to the MCU ruin the darker, sometimes R rated world fans have come to love?
First of all, the idea is rather silly for a variety of reasons. Disney has made R rated movies for years under the Touchstone Pictures label. So the f-bomb has been uttered by Disney many times before, on movies like Con Air, or scenes of “vicious beatings with blood” and corpse mutilation. They’ve even released a Scorsese picture. Also, lest MCU fans forget, Daredevil and Jessica Jones were hardly family comic ramps. Then there are comments by both Kevin Feige and Bob Iger confirming Marvel’s willingness to do R-rated material, the former occurring even before the merger.
Nonetheless, the Twitter angst has continued despite all these signs that Marvel has the freedom to put whatever content they want into their films. So for those demanding more evidence, I give you the soundtrack to Black Panther. Heralded loudly by Marvel, and a major part of a significant push for the film during the highly rated College Football Championship game on Disney’s own ESPN, the soundtrack is being “curated” by Kendrick Lamar. Two of the songs have been released. Here is a sampling of the lyrics:
F*** integrity, f*** your pedigree, f*** your feelings, f*** your culture, f*** your mom, f*** your family, f*** your drive, f*** your land, f*** your children, f*** your wives
I haven’t memorized all the words to “It’s a Small World” but I’m fairly certain “f*** your children” isn’t one of the lines. Clearly, Marvel is letting Lamar and company do as they please with the lyrical content on the soundtrack. (One would assume there will be some editing and/or bleeping that will be required if any of these songs make it to the film in order to keep its current MPAA rating.)
Now my point is not to debate the legitimacy of this kind of language in culture and media. I’m neither applauding nor complaining about this soundtrack. My point is simple. These lyrics will be on an album that is being heavily marketed in tandem with an MCU film. The music is a key plank in their marketing push, as I noted with the Lamar halftime performance. None of this reeks of a Disney corporation afraid of some cursing or controversy. It is particularly remarkable because the f-bomb is one line even Netflix’s MCU offerings haven’t crossed. Spider-Man: Homecoming has come the closest to pioneering that profanity territory.
So those wanting more adult content in the MCU need not worry. Clearly, Marvel is willing to do content associated with their brand with R-rated sensibilities, as long as the fit is right. The combination of Black Panther, Kendrick Lamar, and these kinds of lyrics apparently work for the folks at Disney. And this could become even more pronounced if Black Widow turns into the sexy, violent, R-rated film some think it will become. So when it comes time for Deadpool 3: Avengers Kiss My A$$! you can be sure that there will be no shortage of genital jokes or curse words for the Merc with a Mouth.
(Note: the album is not being distributed by a Disney label, but that likely is due to Lamar’s contractural obligations with Universal subsidiary Aftermath records.)