Black Adam Had To Be Edited Four Times To Receive A PG-13 Rating

For well over a year now, Dwayne Johnson and the rest of the team behind "Black Adam" have been hyping the upcoming DC film as a turning point for the DC Extended Universe, with special emphasis on the fact that the titular character is a somewhat merciless badass. As it turns out, they weren't joking: according to Collider, the film came very close to landing an R rating for its violence.

The outlet spoke with producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia in an interview, where Flynn revealed that "Black Adam" went not one, not two, but "four rounds" with the MPA, the group responsible for approving American theatrical movie ratings, before it finally landed a more audience-friendly PG-13 rating.

Black Adam is known for knocking skulls

Though some filmmakers have complained about the strictness of the MPA, it sounds like the team behind "Black Adam" always expected they'd have to walk a fine line between keeping the character of Teth-Adam true to his roots while still making a movie that would be available to the super-wide audience that expects to be able to attend the latest tentpole superhero flick. While there have been R-rated superhero films in the past, including the smash hit "Deadpool" films, DC's recent attempts to deliver adult-oriented comic book movies with "The Suicide Squad" and "Birds of Prey" have had comparatively modest success. Still, it sounds like the character came first in this case.

"We really wanted to make sure that we honored the character of Black Adam," Garcia told 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." 

More an antihero or villain than a traditional superhero, Teth-Adam is pretty ruthless, going all the way back to his original appearance in "The Marvel Family #1" comic by Otto Binder from 1945. He not only kills a Pharoah but plans to kill Billy Batson and his best pal, Freddy. In recent DC comic runs, he's become a bit more reformed and less bloodthirsty, but still, throughout his decades on the page, Black Adam has racked up a pretty intimidating body count.

Some violent moments were cut from the film

Apparently, though, the big-screen version of "Black Adam" is still in his skull-knocking era. Flynn tells the outlet that the film originally had around ten distinct moments of violence that may have been on the MPA's radar and that several of them were cut. "We did have to make a lot of edits, actually," Flynn says. "There are some personal moments that we really love, but we had to let them go. But we never compromised, we never had to cut a scene." Based on this description and the producers' emphasis on the importance of showing Black Adam's true self, it sounds like theater-goers will get the same exact story that the team originally intended to tell, only without a few of the more gruesome shots.

Garcia says Johnson was also "committed" to collaborating with the MPA to achieve a PG-13 rating while still keeping the integrity of the character, but it does sound like the process took a while: Flynn revealed that the final rating was only handed down about a month ago. 

"Black Adam" will finally fight its way into theaters on October 21, 2022.