Disney+ steps away from family-friendly content with addition of R-rated movies

by Trinity Cardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News


Disney+ is expanding its mature content with the addition of three “R-rated” movies in its lineup. On Friday, the streaming service added “Deadpool,” “Deadpool 2,” and “Logan.” While parent controls promise protection, some concerns remain.

The trio of movies are the only Marvel movies and the first movies hosted on Disney+ to hold this rating. The Deadpool movies contain intense foul language, nudity, and sexual content, while the final Wolverine movie contains graphic violence throughout the film. Parents were warned not to take kids to see these movies at the time of their releases. Now, they’ve found a digital home on what many viewed as a family-friendly streaming service when it initially launched in November 2019.

Even Hugh Jackman, who played the lead character of Wolverine in “Logan,” called the decision “questionable.” Jackman shared the news on Instagram with a photo of him hugging Ryan Reynolds, dressed as the foul-mouthed Deadpool. Jackman thanked Disney for adding the trio of movies. However, he added, “While your decision is questionable, we’ll take it.”

Reynolds also announced the news with the statement, “We’re supposed to announce Logan and Deadpool will soon be the first R-rated movies on Disney+. But we all know some Disney movies should already be rated R for irreversible trauma.”

In March, Disney+ surprised parents with updated parental controls and an option to “opt-in” to mature content. This meant setting each profile to be either an “adult” profile or a “kid” profile. The update was necessitated by the inclusion of former Netflix Original Marvel shows like “The Punisher” and “Jessica Jones.” With the addition of these dark Marvel movies, Disney invited parents to update these controls.

Disney received immediate pushback for their decision. Tim Winters, president of Parents Television and Media Council, noted this broke a 2019 promise from the multinational mass media entertainment company.

“Three years ago, the Walt Disney Company made a promise to families: No R-rated movies on Disney+, they said. It’s a family-focused platform, they said. We have Hulu for our edgier adult fare, they said. It turns out they were lying to us,” Winters stated,

Parents have also condemned the move, saying that the mature content takes away from the family-friendly branding that Disney operates under.

“I am uncomfortable with those movies being on Disney+ when their main viewership is children and families,” said Abbey Phipps, a mother of three under age five and the production coordinator for “Little Image-bearers.” Her husband is the producer and lead actor for the Christian children’s show, and family-friendly content is of high importance to the Phipps family.

Phipps has concerns that her children might accidentally find the mature content.

“Ideally, all parents should be present when children are selecting and watching a movie, but that is not always the reality,” Phipps added. “I feel like this pushes Disney farther into the category of not kid-friendly.”

Mallory Sides, a mom of three children ages seven and under, noted that separate profiles and parental vigilance should guard against a child accidentally stumbling across mature content, but said, “Because kids are sneaky, for the more violent content they could put passcodes on those movies like Amazon does.”

Other parents who spoke to FISM said they used a security feature on Disney+ where a pin code can be required to access specific profiles. This can better protect children from accidental exposure to mature content when activated.