The overwhelming critical and commercial success of Deadpool was seen by many as a possible Hollywood game changer since it showed that there is indeed an audience for adult-orientated superhero content. There is some concern that the industry will learn the wrong lessons from Tim Miller’s film, but it’s already having an effect. For instance, there’s talk that the upcoming Wolverine 3 will be aiming for an R-rating, capitalizing on the record-breaking numbers Deadpool saw.
Recently, Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice made some headlines when it was revealed that there would be an R-rated cut included on the Blu-ray release. Given that the film already sports a dark and grim tone, the announcement was met with its fair share of controversy, since it possibly indicated that the DC Extended Universe was heading in the wrong direction – even though it’s been confirmed all the films in the franchise will be PG-13. Now, Snyder has explained the R version of his film and why it received that classification in the first place.
In a profile for THR, Snyder and his wife Deborah (who is a producer on Batman V Superman) were asked about the more extreme edition that’ll be available on home media, laughing off any Deadpool comparisons and saying that it wasn’t done intentionally to make the movie R:
DEB: Online, everyone’s like, “Oh, they’re doing an R-rated in reaction to Deadpool,” and you’re like (laughing), “We didn’t just shoot it last week, and we also didn’t edit it last week.”
ZACK: The why of that is [the DVD version] is a half-hour longer, and some of that additional material is some of the stuff we took out for the rating. I was like, “Cool, I can put it back in for the director’s cut.” There was nothing by design. This was the material I just put back in, and then when [the MPAA] looked at it again, they were like, “Oh, now the movie’s rated R.” And, by the way, it’s not a hard R. There’s no nudity. There’s a little bit of violence. It just tips the scale.
Fans may recall that initially, Marvel’s family-friendly The Avengers (which features little, if any, inappropriate content) earned an R rating from the MPAA due to Agent Coulson’s death scene being a bit too gruesome for the organization’s tastes. Anyone who is familiar with the system knows that the MPAA can be quite fickle with how they determine film ratings, and sometimes all it takes is the smallest edit to meet certain requirements. It’s not surprising that “a little bit of violence” was the primary reason, since Batman V Superman features a Dark Knight that brands criminals with a bat symbol and a brutal, physical confrontation between the two titular heroes. It’ll still be interesting to see the differences, but they most likely are minor aspects, such as additional blood in a fight sequence.
Arguably, segments of extra violence may not even be the most compelling elements of Snyder’s director’s cut; Jena Malone’s role was removed entirely from the theatrical version, so fans will want to see who the actress is playing. Given that Batman V Superman is part of a larger shared universe of films, the identity of Malone’s mystery character could provide clues about appearances in future movies or story threads that could be explored. Though the PG-13 cut is most likely the one to be considered canon, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set a precedent for deleted scenes being part of the continuity. It remains to be seen how WB will handle what was removed.
In short, the Snyders confirmed what most had assumed for some time. The existence of an R-rated version for Batman V Superman is not a response to Deadpool and all it took was trimming down the violence a tad to get the desired mark of PG-13. While the notion of an “adult” Dawn of Justice sounds tantalizing to some, it sounds like the end result will be less graphic and obscene than what imaginations could have conjured up.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 16th, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19th, 2020.