Fistfights, decapitations and gravely wounded heroes. No, it’s not the seventh and final season of “Sons of Anarchy,” the hyper-violent series which debuted its “final ride” on Netflix earlier this year.
It’s “Daredevil,” the streaming service’s superhero drama.
We’ve come a long way from “Superman and the Mole Men,” the 1951 feature starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel.
Today’s superheroes aren’t just grittier than their predecessors. They’re bloodier, too.
Blame Christopher Nolan, the director who salvaged the silly Batman franchise with his blockbuster “Dark Knight” trilogy. Suddenly, superheroes were real folks who happened to parade around in rubber suits.
Even Nolan’s Bat-vision didn’t prepare us for “Daredevil,” the Hell’s Kitchen drama where our blind protagonist gets pummeled to the point where he needs a nurse (Rosario Dawson) to repeatedly stitch him back up.
The show is a smash according to metrics provided outside of the Netflix universe. So clearly people are watching. But “Daredevil” isn’t the only grittier than gritty superhero around. Consider the first trailer for 2016’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which pits two of DC Comics’ most popular characters against one another.
The teaser is darker than dark, with the notion that a figure like Superman is too powerful to be trusted. And, we’re told, the Man of Steel will “bleed.”
Most superhero films walk the PG-13 line. That makes good economic sense since it allows pre-teens to see the movies again and again. As the genre matures, and as more adults buy into these characters, the pressure to get bloodier will likely intensify.
Consider “Deadpool,” the Ryan Reynolds film hitting theaters next year. The actor confirmed via Twitter that the movie, about a Marvel Comics anti-hero, will indeed earn an R rating. The film earned plenty of applause during this month’s Comic-Con event in San Diego, partly based on an expletive-filled teaser.
Yes, Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige has said the MCU, that’s Marvel Cinema Universe to non-geeks, won’t take a “dark turn” any time soon. It’s still clear fans wanted to see more than just PG-rated superheroics.
The trend has even reached the video game world. The latest Bat-venture, “Batman: Arkham Knight,” was dubbed “the most violent Batman yet,” by The Daily Beast. Gamers are asked to cremate the Dark Knight’s arch-enemy, The Joker, and drive right over two-bit henchmen. It’s rated Mature 17 for blood, language, suggestive themes and violence.
Somewhere, Adam West and Burt Ward are scratching their heads, wondering whatever happened to the Pow! Wham!! Zam!!! days of yore.