Zack Snyder explains Batman v Superman’s ridiculous R-rating battle

Cameron Frew
A still from Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Zack Snyder has opened up about the maddening battle to get Batman v Superman down from an R-rating to PG-13.

This month, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had its first F-bomb in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. In 2023, the franchise will unleash its first R-rated movie with Deadpool 3. The times, they are a-changing – but Hollywood hasn’t always been so keen on the idea.

Some of the best comic book movies are R-rated: Logan, Kick-Ass, Blade, Joker, and Watchmen, to name a few. These films aren’t shackled by any need to tone down their violence, language, or subject matter for younger viewers, and they’re far better as a result.

However, it’s a different ballgame when you’re playing with major household names like Batman and Superman – any face-off between them should be a major event for all audiences, at least in the eyes of the MPAA.

Zack Snyder opens up about Batman v Superman R-rating battle

The theatrical release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was rated PG-13, but that came after constant back-and-forths with the MPAA over the movie’s “mean” tone.

During a conversation with Snyder on a panel at SnyderCon 2023, VFX supervisor John Des Jardin recalled the MPAA asking for the “blood splat on the wall” during the warehouse fight to be removed. “But we kept taking all those things out, and it was still getting an R-rating,” he said.

“And then you got that note from them: ‘Well, we just think that Batman’s too mean to Superman.’ And we were like, ‘Can you really comment on that?'”

According to Snyder and Des Jardin, the powers that be weren’t fans of Batman going up against Superman. “They were just like, ‘We think it’s rude that they’re fighting.’ And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, it’s in the title’,” the director explained.

“‘Yeah, this is an NC-17. This is an X.’ Yeah, ‘Is there any way you can cut them fighting? How about they just team up and like each other? How about that? Maybe, they like argue at the first act, but then they shake hands, and then like they fight the bad guy together.’

“I go, ‘Well, they kind of fight the bad guy together at the end. Didn’t you see that?’ And they’re like, ‘Ah, well, there’s a lot of fighting before that.'”

The movie that eventually hit cinemas was ripped apart by critics and underperformed at the box office, grossing just over $870 million compared to Captain America: Civil War’s $1.15 billion haul. However, it also paved the way for the superior R-rated Ultimate Edition on Blu-ray, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League was also released with an R-rating.

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The Batman Part II | Joker 2 | Harley Quinn Season 4 | The Flash Season 9 | Deadpool 3 | Fantastic Four | Avengers: The Kang Dynasty | Avengers: Secret Wars | Marvel Zombies | The Marvels | Agatha: Coven of Chaos | Venom 3 | Daredevil: Born Again | Blade MCU | Captain America 4 | Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse