It’s no secret that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be drawing a lot of inspiration from Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. That comic was a big part of bringing strong adult content — including brutal violence and overt sexuality — to the world of superheroes. It’s no surprise then that the director’s cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America.
According to the bulletin put out by the MPAA, the director’s cut — or the “Ultimate Edition” as it’s being dubbed — will be rated R due to “sequences of violence.” Seeing as how the PG-13 cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been given that rating for “intense sequences of violence and action throughout,” it’s worth speculating about what particular sequences of violence were worthy of an R rating.
From what we’ve seen in the trailers, this version of the Dark Knight will be the most brutal on-screen interpretation we have ever seen. Could this R-rated violence be attributed to some of the beatdowns Batman doles out? We’ve also seen this iteration of Superman break a character’s neck. Will the Man of Steel be dishing out some blood-soaked justice of his own? What about Wonder Woman? That sword ain’t just for decoration.
What’s worrying is how this might affect audiences’ perceptions of the theatrical release. Will there be a contingent of fans who will wait to see the R-rated cut instead of the PG-13 one? Will Warner Bros. actually test a theatrical release of the R-rated cut? The MPAA release states that the distributor is Warner Home Entertainment, so this is probably slated for a home video release only. Still, after the runaway success of Deadpool, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Superhero cinema is changing and this might be another big step towards that change. Whether it’s good or bad, we’ll have to wait and see. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (the PG-13 version) releases on March 25.