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Black Adam Kept Getting Rated R Because He Massacred Too Many People

Zachary Levi used social media to signal-boost a report that Dwayne Johnson was a problem with Black Adam for Shazam: Fury of the Gods. / Black Adam kept getting rated R by the MPAA because Dwayne Johnson killed too many people in brutal, ultra-violent ways.

Usually, when we have anti-heroes in superhero films it’s because they’re petty thieves with a heart of gold, but evidently, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam is a bit different: He can’t stop killing people. In fact, he killed too many people for the MPAA. Black Adam, the upcoming superhero flick that DC is banking on to relaunch its cinematic efforts, kept getting rated R because Black Adam massacred too many people.

A tenet of most superheroes is that they don’t kill people. Even dark and gritty Batman only heavily wounds people with all-out murder being frowned upon. But Black Adam has a significant body count, which is something that Collider pointed out to producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia. Instead of hedging around it, the producers admitted they actually wanted a higher body count, but the MPAA wouldn’t give Black Adam a PG-13 rating if they went there. It evidently took four rounds of editing to get the finalized film into PG-13 form for the MPAA, and the film is still pushing into the high end of violence as Black Adam exacts vengeance on criminals.

“We really wanted to make sure that we honored the character of Black Adam,” said Garcia to Collider. “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. We knew it was going to be a collaborative process with the MPAA to finally get it to where we were able, to get that rating, but we were able to pull it off. But it was really important for us to do that. And that’s something Dwayne was very committed to as well.”

Those final edits, which just got completed about four or five weeks ago according to Flynn, mean that scenes where Black Adam kills bad guys with extreme violence got reduced by nearly half. The producers point out one scene that’s in the film where a bad guy gets dropped from the sky and then run over by a truck as one of the violent deaths that made it, but about five others like that were cut from the film so that the PG-13 rating could stick. They insist that no whole scenes were removed from Black Adam, but just moments of extra violence that didn’t make it past the MPAA to avoid being rated R. There is at least some possibility that this content could be included in a future home release though.

Black Adam will release in theaters on October 21.

About the author

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is a News Writer and film aficionado at Escapist. He has been writing for Escapist for nearly five years and has nearly 20 years of experience reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and video games for both print and online outlets. He has a degree in Film from Vassar College and a degree in gaming from growing up in the '80s and '90s. He runs the website and has written for The Washington Post, Destructoid, MTV, and more. He will gladly talk your ear off about horror, Marvel, Stallone, James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.