What ‘Black Adam’s Rating Means For DC’s Newest Superhero
Dwayne Johnson’s line about Black Adam is how the “hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.” But we’re not so sure it’s going to change that much.
Despite the gritty trailer, which shows Black Adam beating the snot out of the Justice Society of America, and despite the character’s live-and-let-die attitude, don’t expect Black Adam to be more violent or dark than any other DC movie that’s been released to theaters. The film has already been rated by the MPAA. And they gave the film a typical PG-13, in this case for “sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language.”
While almost every DC movie released in the last three decades had received a PG-13 from the MPAA, that had started to change in recent years. In 2019, they gave Joker an R for “strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.” Of course, that was a standalone movie that wasn’t connected to the rest of the DC movie universe. So it was allowed to be edgier and darker than the stuff featuring Superman or Batman.
But last summer Warners put out The Suicide Squad, set in the DCEU and rated a fairly hard R for “strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.” On the other hand, when The Batman came out in early 2022, it returned to the old PG-13, despite the fact that it was maybe the bleakest version of the character to date, and had him face off with a demented serial killer version of the Riddler.
Maybe the new regime at Warner Bros. (which is now owned by Discovery rather than AT&T) decided they want PG-13 rated superheroes instead of R-rated ones. Or maybe you can make a movie about a really intense and super emo antihero without making it too violent. Who knows? All we know for sure is Black Adam isn’t rated R, and it is coming to theaters on October 21.