Disney+ has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Starting just three years ago with Star Wars' The Mandalorian as its primary original series, the streaming service has since exploded into a titan of its own with a near-constant stream of cinema-quality content releasing throughout the year.
In the aftermath of the Fox acquisition, the service has become Disney's hub for Marvel to collect its many offerings from over the years, regardless of their MCU canonicity. Recently, fan-favorite films like Deadpool and its sequel have gone live, and the Netflix Defenders universe that brought the world Charlie Cox's Daredevil and Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones has also appeared.
While fans are certainly excited to have more content available for them, there are some who disagree with Disney's move. This is doubly true for Deadpool, as the R-rated series breaks a precedent—and a promise—set by the company when Disney+ was launched.
R-Rated Content on Disney+ Sparks Outrage
In a statement published on their website, the Parents Television and Media Council called out Disney in a scathing chastisement. The statement quotes PTC president Tim Winter, who recalls Disney's "2019 promise not to add R-rated movies to its streaming platform" and says the company "has decided to flush it all down the toilet" with their decision to add the films Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and Logan to the service's lineup.
Rejecting the efficacy of Disney+'s parental controls, Winter asserts that "the mere presence of R-rated and TV-MA rated content violates the trust and sensibilities of families."
The statement closes with a claim that "business schools will point back to this abrupt corporate U-turn" when discussing the downfall of the company:
“One day in the no-too-distant future, business schools will point back to this abrupt corporate U-turn as they analyze what happened to the once-great Walt Disney Company. And in the meantime, families will continue to be woefully underserved by Hollywood.”
For reference, the PTC is the same organization who blasted Disney earlier this year when Marvel's Netflix series were added to the platform.
Is R-Rated Content Too Much for Disney+?
There's been a discussion for a long time about how the acquisition of (and focus on) properties like Marvel and Star Wars would impact Disney's image as a largely family-oriented company. While, for years, the corporation has been represented by Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses, many equally associate it today with the Avengers and Darth Vader.
Is this changing image a bad thing? To be blunt, no. There is no reason to assume, as the PTC does, that Disney cannot be more than one kind of company. The shift in focus to include content like Deadpool and Daredevil on Disney+ does not suddenly change the plethora of content created with children and families in mind.
The group's claim that the parental controls are not enough and that the "mere presence" of 17+ content on the platform "violates the trust and sensibilities of families" is absurd and hyperbolic.
There are many valid avenues to address the topic of children's access to inappropriate content, but those should be pointed at actual problem areas like social media platforms and video-sharing sites, not on streaming services with clear parental control features.
The inclusion of Deadpool or Daredevil isn't really what is upsetting the PTC, in all likelihood. They're simply seeking to galvanize public anger and direct it towards any target they can claim threatens the nebulous concept of family values. Prior statements by the organization regarding other programs make it clear that they'd reverse all progress made in the areas of gender, sexuality, and racial diversity in their archaic crusade.
To be clear, the addition of content only expands the pool of options available for consumers. It does not, in any way, contaminate the essence of the streaming service or do any of the other absurd things the PTC claim. More kinds of stories told in ways most befitting their subject matter is always a good thing, and that will naturally include R-rated and TV-MA rated content. It's refreshing to see that Disney understands this, and it is truly in-keeping with their focus in Phase 4 to tell stories in ways that fit the characters and not a storytelling mold.
Despite the PTC's outrage, Disney and Marvel press on. Marvel Zombies was recently announced as the first TV-MA rated MCU project and details about it were recently shared at San Diego Comic-Con.