With Deadpool out this weekend, there’s no better time to look back at the biggest R-rated superhero movies at the box office. You can probably guess a few names on here, but some were definitely surprising even to me.
So let’s get a few things out of the way first, we’re talking superhero movies, be it adapted from a comic or not. R-rated movies based on comics don’t qualify (sorry 300) if they’re not of the superhero kind. While churning through all the potential candidates I had an epiphany, and I still can’t believe it took me these many years to finally realize that The Matrix is also kind of, sort of, pretty much a superhero movie. That changed the top 10 quite a bit, but then Deadpool just had to come in and blow the door wide open, and because I didn’t want to lose number 10 (which was now 11) I made a hard choice, instead of the usual top 10 I’m giving you a top 11.
Oh yes, it’s happening and you have no saying in it so just sit down and keep reading because here are the top 11 highest grossing R-rated superhero movies of all time, worldwide (unadjusted for ticket price inflation since that’s just not possible when dealing with international numbers).
11. Kick-Ass (2013) – $96.2 million
So Kick-Ass was the movie I didn’t want to lose and if you saw it, then you probably know why I did it. While it didn’t quite end up making nearly as much as some expected at the box office, it was still enough for the studio to move forward with a sequel that sadly didn’t have Matthew Vaughn behind the camera, ultimately turning into disappointing sequel.
10. Judge Dredd (1995) – $113.5 million
This is not the Dredd you’re looking for, sadly the one that should have been at number 10 only made about $35.6 million worldwide on a $50 million budget. If you were wondering why Hollywood was so scared of doing R-rated superhero movies, you need not look any further than Dredd and Kick-Ass. And in case you’re wondering, this Judge Dredd is the Sylvester Stallone, Rob Schneider and Armand Assante starring one, and I have to say for very young me this was a lot of fun, even inspired me to write a sci-fi short for school.
9. Blade Trinity (2004) – $128.9 million
After two awesome Blade movies the shoe just had to drop on the 3rd one. Bottom line, Blade Trinity sort of sucks, not like Fant4stic bad, but still enough to kill the series.
8. Blade (1998) – $131.2 million
Here’s a question for the ages, why has Stephen Dorff not played a vampire again after this? I’d take him over sparkly ones any idea, and what a cool death for the villain at the end. Actually all of Blade was pretty damn cool, as was its sequel, which is up next.
7. Blade II (2002) – $155 million
Before the made Hellboy 1 and 2, director Guillermo del Toro stretched his lens behind the camera of this awesome sequel that’s almost as good as the original (some might even say better). But what it might lack in other parts, Blade II more than made up for in style. Just try to ignore that awful looking CGI fight in the early parts of the movie (you’ll know it when you see it).
6. Watchmen (2009) – $185.3 million
Watchmen is great, sadly Watchmen is also definitely not a mainstream movie and no matter how hard the Hollywood machine tried to make it look so, it could never be that. To Zack Snyder’s praise, he made no or almost no compromises with this one and what came out of it was and still is one of the best comic book adaptations to ever make it onto the big screen. This was never going to be a movie that could give Warner Bros. a return on the $130 million budget they provided, but at the same time without that kind of money there would be no Watchmen. So in a way I’m glad someone managed to trick the suits over there into paying up. Thanks Warner!
5. Deadpool (2016) – $282.1 million
Just 4 days in and he’s already prancing around here like he owns the place (oh and he will soon enough). Like Watchmen, this too was a movie made without compromises, but unlike Watchmen, as a comedy Deadpool has a lot more mainstream appeal. I guess it was a combination of everything coming together at the right time, exactly the right way, and Fox were smart enough to step to the side, not stand in the way of success. Obviously a brilliant marketing campaign made Deadpool 2016’s first must watch movie and now we’re probably gonna get a dozen of these. Not that I’m complaining and neither is Ryan Reynolds.
4. Wanted (2008) – $341.4 million
The director of Russian fantasy thriller Night Watch made a movie about super secret assassins that can bend bullets around objects, starring Angelina Jolie. Of course it was an instant hit, I saw this thing at least 3 times and that pitch I just gave you makes me want to watch it a 4th time. Wanted is the right kind of stupid.
3. The Matrix Revolutions (2003) – $427.3 million
The Matrix Revolutions on the other hand is not the right kind of stupid, quite the contrary. It kind of blows my mind that they went from good stupid with Reloaded to this in only half a year. Even so I still found it entertaining, only it wasn’t the trilogy finale I wanted from The Matrix. The fact that it’s also the lowest grossing one is probably further proof that Revolutions is not exactly a beloved installment.
2. The Matrix (1999) – $463.5 million
The Matrix is the origin story of super Neo, it’s fun, it’s very stylish, it keeps you on the edge of your sit from start to finish and most impressive (for a 1999 sci-fi that is), it still holds up, even better than some of the stuff in Reloaded or Revolutions.
1. The Matrix Reloaded (2003) – $742.1 million
Super Neo to the rescue! If you’re still doubting my choice to include The Matrix trilogy on here, then you need to watch The Matrix Reloaded and that will make you see the light. This was such a blast in theaters back in 2003, possibly one of my best theater experiences watching a movie. I know it has many flaws but the good and the great definitely outweigh the bad, making The Matrix Reloaded a worthy sequel to The Matrix.
So this is it, the most successful 11 R-rated superhero movies of all time. How far do you think Deadpool can go on this list? I’m thinking all the way to the top.