To date, every single Marvel Cinematic Universe has been rated PG-13. That’s the sweet spot for big-budget four-quadrant tentpoles like these; a PG-13 lets a movie be edgy enough to attract the grown-ups but not so hardcore it keeps out kids. But as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently revealed, getting that rating has been a trickier task for some films than others.
While the latest Marvel outing, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, easily made the PG-13 cut, Feige revealed that 2012′s The Avengers initially got an R rating from the MPAA. The filmmakers recut the movie and submitted it again — only to get another R rating. Hit the jump to find out which specific scene was the sticking point.
Movies.com got the dirt from Feige at a recent event. “When we submitted The Avengers, the first couple cuts of it came back from the MPAA rated R. That happened twice,” Feige recalled. “So we went back and had to make adjustments.”
The Avengers R Rating Was Caused By…
Pressed for more info, Feige explained that (massive spoilers ahead, if you’re one of the six people on the planet who still hasn’t seen The Avengers) Coulson’s big death scene was giving them particular trouble. “Well, whenever you impale somebody from their back and the blade comes out their chest, there are issues,” Feige said.
Of course, there was no way Marvel was actually going to release an R-rated Avengers. Joss Whedon and his team were eventually able to trim the scene to the MPAA’s satisfaction, and the movie went out with a PG-13 in the spring of 2012.
But it seems that even after The Avengers hit theaters, there was some back-and-forth over that scene. According to Movie-Censorship.com, certain markets including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland got a “censored” version of the Avengers Blu-ray in which we hear the stabbing and Coulson’s reaction, but never actually see the character get impaled.
For whatever reason, that’s the version of the scene that comes up first when you look for it on YouTube.
But if you rewatch the movie on Netflix, we do see the bloody blade bursting from Coulson’s chest. (Here’s the screencap to prove it.) Feige’s comments indicate that that’s still the softer version of whatever the filmmakers had originally planned
With or without the gore, though, the scene in question is still pretty upsetting. At least until you realize that Coulson is a comic book character — which meant it was only a matter of time before he miraculously bounced back to lead Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.