For comic book movies, an R-rating isn’t necessarily the kiss of death. Deadpool, Logan, and Joker have all leaned into it, and reaped the benefits. (Birds of Prey, meanwhile, struggled at the box office.) The producers of Black Adam — which promises the DCEU’s most powerful, if not necessarily the most do-gooding, sorta-hero — weren’t prepared to go that far. But they went right up to the line.
As per Collider, the comic’s line’s latest blockbuster let star Dwayne Johnson kill so many bad guys that it had to go through four passes with the MPAA before they gave it a family friendly-ish PG-13. Indeed, producer Beau Flynn said they only got the official rating “maybe four or five weeks ago.”
Flynn said they made “a lot of edits,” but added that they “never compromised; we never had to cut a scene.”
Finding that alchemy — being gritty without barring most teens from buying a ticket — was tricky. “We really wanted to make sure that we honored the character of Black Adam,” said producer Hiram Garcia. “One of the things he’s known for is his aggression and violence, and to do a Black Adam movie that didn’t have that just wouldn’t have been authentic. So we always went into this knowing that we were going to push it as far as we did.”
And so instead of a watered-down, nice guy Black Adam, the film “does kill openly a lot of bad guys,” actor Aldis Hodge, who plays Hawkman, told Collider in a separate interview. “I think it’s important to know he’s killing bad guys — for the sake of the people that he’s protecting and for his moral compass. But along with that, it really is a backdrop to the real conversation that we’re having in terms of, what is good and evil? What is right and wrong? And to what extent do you go, to what lengths do you reach to accomplish what you believe is actual justice?”
Besides, those rawer moments may always wind up on the Blu-ray.
Black Adam hits theaters on Oct. 21. You can read Uproxx‘s interview with co-star Pierce Brosnan here.