R-Rated DC Scenes We Never Got To See In The Original Cut

It is widely known that Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe has faced its fair share of challenges since its inception with the divisive "Man of Steel" in 2013. Zack Snyder's vision to explore the darker aspects of beloved heroes like Superman and Batman was met with mixed reactions, resulting in decent (but not extraordinary) box office returns. Consequently, the studio became anxious and began meddling with subsequent projects, aiming to replicate Marvel Studios' success.

Unfortunately, this interference only diluted once-promising ventures, leaving them with diminished appeal. While one could argue that entrusting a substantial amount of money to a controversial filmmaker like Snyder in the pursuit of commercial success might seem imprudent, it's also amusing that the studio was surprised by his inclination towards a darker tone, considering his previous filmography.

Regardless, the studio's tampering resulted in watered-down theatrical cuts, depriving audiences of some truly exceptional material that was left on the cutting room floor. We have compiled a list of the best R-rated deleted scenes from DC films, presented below in no particular order.

Jonah Hex R-rated cut

2010's "Jonah Hex" is riddled with so many issues that it could fill an entire book documenting the production woes everyone involved experienced. Rushed reshoots and excessive editing reduced the final product to a mere 81 minutes. Unfortunately, this epic stumbled into movie theaters and only managed to recoup $10.9 million of its $47 million budget.

Starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox, alongside notable actors such as John Malkovich, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Wes Bentley, Lance Reddick, and Michael Shannon (in a deleted scene), "Jonah Hex" secured a PG-13 rating for violence. However, many of the steamier scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. This notably included a tantalizing sex scene between Brolin and Fox, which was teased in the Comic-Con trailer. While we don't know the full extent of the sequence, it's safe to assume that Warner Bros. made last-minute edits to avoid an R-rating, indicating that the sex scene might have been too intense for general audiences.

Brolin placed the blame on WB for the film's poor box office, expressing to Variety that director Jimmy Hayward's inexperience caused the producers to lose confidence. "And then the studio took it over and every time that's happened, in my experience, it has only gotten worse."

While it's uncertain if a sex scene between a man and a woman 18 years his junior would have salvaged "Jonah Hex," at least it would've been more in line with the film's original tone.

Joker: Intense bathroom scene

Todd Phillips' delightfully morbid "Joker" embraced the freedom of an R rating and a limited budget, resulting in a refreshingly unique portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime (Joaquin Phoenix) free from external interference. Surprisingly, "Joker" could have pushed the boundaries even further, but Phillips exercised restraint in certain aspects, notably with a bathtub scene that had the potential to intensify the already adult rating.

During a 2019 discussion at the SBIFF Cinema Society, the director disclosed that several "Joker" scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, including the aforementioned bathtub sequence. Phillips remarked, "There were two or three other impromptu scenes we shot, one that is amazing in a bathtub, but I don't think we can actually include it in an R-rated movie, and it's not because it was pornographic, it was just insane."

While the scene's exact details remain undisclosed, it must have been sufficiently intense to be omitted from a film featuring a man suffocating his mother with a pillow and committing cold-blooded murders, including killing a prominent television personality portrayed by Robert De Niro. As someone intrigued by extended moments that don't make the final cut, I will eagerly await any further clues about this particular scene.

Justice League: Extended Themyscira sequence

By now, many of you are likely familiar with the tumultuous behind-the-scenes struggles that plagued the production of Zack Snyder's "Justice League." Although the director eventually unveiled his version of the film, complete with the long-lost footage that fans had eagerly anticipated for four years, the theatrical cut from 2017 left much to be desired. Joss Whedon, a notable figure from the "Avengers" franchise, took over to supervise extensive reshoots aimed at lightening the film's tone. The resulting "Justice League" underwhelmed audiences and threw WB's DCEU plans into disarray. One can't help but wonder if Snyder's darker vision would have propelled the comic book adaptation to greater heights. While "Batman v Superman" didn't exactly draw hordes of viewers, one might attribute that to WB's interference and their decision to adopt a lighter tone more in line with Marvel's approach.

Similarly, the theatrical cut of "Justice League" significantly toned down the intensity, offering a milder portrayal of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and reducing the level of gore. The action sequence set in Themyscira suffered the most from these alterations, as much of Steppenwolf's brutality was dialed back to secure a PG-13 rating. In Snyder's version, the main antagonist gruesomely dismembers women and leaves a trail of blood on the battlefield. While some may argue that this carnage is unnecessary, I believe it aligns with Snyder's ambition to create an intense superhero epic reminiscent of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings."

Justice League: Batman drops an f-bomb

Another interesting detail omitted from the "Justice League" theatrical cut is a scene where Ben Affleck's Dark Knight drops an f-bomb. This moment takes place in an epilogue sequence specifically filmed for Zack Snyder's version of the film, in which Batman confronts Jared Leto's Joker in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by Superman. During their encounter, Batman chillingly declares to his archnemesis, "I will f*****g kill you," causing Joker to react with a notable gasp.

The "Justice League" theatrical cut was toned down to cater to a younger audience, while Snyder aimed for a more mature and adult-oriented superhero epic. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the director expressed his intentions regarding the inclusion of Joker in his vision, stating, "The Joker is really the only thing that I thought of in retrospect. But I will say that it was always my intention to bring Joker into that world." Consequently, it is evident that this particular scene would not have made its way into Joss Whedon's version, as it ventures into much darker territory unsuitable for a PG-13 rating. As Snyder speculated, the inclusion of Batman's controversial f-bomb likely played a role in pushing "Zack Snyder's Justice League" into R-rated territory. In a conversation with Entertainment Weekly in 2020, he shared his belief, saying, "We haven't heard from the MPAA, but that's my gut."

The Dark Knight Rises: Foley's death

It appears that Zack Snyder isn't the only director pushing the boundaries of PG-13 comic book films. Christopher Nolan, after exploring the limits with "The Dark Knight," once again tempted fate with his third installment, "The Dark Knight Rises." The trilogy finale showcases a significant amount of violence and action while avoiding excessive gore. However, according to actor Matthew Modine, his character Peter Foley could have taken things even further.

During an interview on the "ReelBlend" podcast, Modine revealed that Foley's death scene was originally filmed to be more intense than what was ultimately shown in the movie. It actually had the potential to warrant an NC-17 rating if included as shot. In the final cut, we witness Foley firing a gun before the villainous Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard) orders her associates to eliminate everyone. Gunfire is heard, and we see Foley lying motionless on the ground, implying that he suffered fatal gunshot wounds.

Modine disclosed, "The guy that was doubling me got hit by the car. They put a plexiglass thing on the front of the car, and he got hit. They had ropes to pull him into the air, but he went up and they dropped him from about 15 feet, and the sound of his body hitting the cobblestone street in front of the New York Stock Exchange, it was sickening."

The sequence is available on YouTube in case you're curious.

The Dark Knight: Schiff interrogation

Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan faced the challenge of avoiding an R rating for his iconic film "The Dark Knight." Actor David Dastmalchian, who portrayed Thomas Schiff, the schizophrenic Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) interrogates in a particularly intense scene, shared an interesting tidbit during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Dastmalchian recalled, "[Nolan] told me a funny anecdote. He said he really liked the scene, but he said when we were shooting it, I was pushing my head against Aaron's gun and he was pushing the gun back. I remember for a few weeks after I had a big welt on my head and a little goose egg and black bruise. He said that was one of the moments the MPAA asked him to go back, and he had to cut out the indent from the gun barrel on my head."

Even in its edited form, the sequence remains incredibly stressful. Harvey passionately threatens Schiff, determined to find the Joker, relying on his lucky coin to determine the criminal's fate. Fortunately, Batman intervenes before things spiral out of control. However, the scene provides a glimpse into the monster Harvey later becomes as he transforms into Two-Face. As a huge fan of the film, I too would be curious to witness the scene as it was originally intended.

The Dark Knight: Batman impersonator

In an early scene of "The Dark Knight," when Harvey Dent meets with Gotham's mayor (Néstor Carbonell) to discuss the handling of newly arrested criminals, our heroes are startled when the body of Brian Douglas (Andy Luther), dressed in a makeshift Batman suit, crashes against a nearby window. Upon closer examination, the deceased is found to have a Joker card with the words "Will the real Batman please stand up?" attached to his vest. While already chilling, this part was originally conceived to be more intense.

Behind-the-scenes photos reveal that Brian's body was suspended from a rope, as shown in the final film. However, in the original version, the Joker card was not pinned to his chest, but held in place by a knife directly plunged into his heart. Personally, I find this alteration to be more fitting within the context of the film, as it aligns with the Joker's penchant for violence and brutality. Nonetheless, the change was likely necessary for Christopher Nolan to maintain a PG-13 rating. Once again, this is one of those moments that I would be intrigued to see in a more extreme cut of the film. For those curious, the original version can be read in "The Dark Knight" script.

Batman v Superman: Extended warehouse fight

We can only speculate on how Zack Snyder's darker cut of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" would have fared at the box office. The film's extended edition provides additional intricacies to the complex narrative, offering a more comprehensive exploration of character motivations. However, Warner Bros. made the decision to trim the film's runtime to a still lengthy two-and-a-half hours, while toning down certain violent shots to appeal to a wider audience.

Surprisingly, the omitted moments of violence are not as extreme as one might expect, and they are so brief that they could easily be missed. Take, for instance, the iconic warehouse sequence in which Batman confronts a group of henchmen to rescue Martha Kent (Diane Lane). In the PG-13 theatrical version, the brutality of Batman's actions is not watered down. He forcefully subdues the criminals using various methods and even stabs one of them. The extended scene dwells a little longer on the stabbing moment, allowing Batman to exert some form of torture on his victim, and includes a touch of digital blood when he throws a box at another antagonist. While these additions do not significantly impact the sequence, they could have been included in the theatrical cut nonetheless.

Batman v Superman: Extended opening

After an extended prologue depicting Bruce Wayne's involvement in the Battle of Metropolis from the end of "Man of Steel," "Batman v Superman" shifts to the present day, where Lois Lane (Amy Adams) embarks on a perilous adventure that eventually leads to her capture. In the theatrical cut, the scene unfolds with a quick succession of action, culminating in Superman's (Henry Cavill) timely arrival. Kal-El bursts through a ceiling, subdues the villain holding Lois hostage, and the scene concludes. Later, it is revealed that Lex Luthor orchestrated this event as part of his plan to frame Superman, although the execution remains unclear. KGBeast, Luthor's henchman, shoots some individuals and then retreats before Superman's arrival, making it a somewhat flawed strategy.

In the extended cut, Superman arrives and destroys a drone, leaving a distinct mark of his presence at the scene. Meanwhile, KGBeast's men open fire and subsequently use incendiary devices to simulate the effects of Superman's heat vision, giving the impression that the superhero killed innocent bystanders. While the added footage may still feel somewhat clumsy, it provides crucial details and a clearer understanding of Lex's intricate plan. Warner Bros. removed these extra moments to avoid an R-rating, which ultimately compromised the theatrical cut. Fortunately, the longer version is available on Blu-ray for a more comprehensive viewing experience.

Black Adam: 10 gruesome kills

"Black Adam" faced issues with tonal inconsistency and received mixed reviews, resulting in a tepid box office return, despite featuring Henry Cavill's Superman in a post-credit scene. In an interview with Collider, producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia revealed the original plan was to portray Black Adam as a murderous anti-hero who would gruesomely kill people using his powers.

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

They mentioned moments where Black Adam would drop a bad guy from the sky, followed by a truck bouncing over the body. Initially, there were even more instances of such brutal scenes — 10, to be exact — but the filmmakers were forced to cut them down in order to secure a PG-13 rating.

While violence alone would not necessarily make the film better, it seems that the compromise made to achieve the rating might have affected the consistency of Black Adam's characterization. In the end, the picture tried to satisfy everyone and ended up satisfying no one.  

Suicide Squad: Terrifying Joker scenes

Over the years, David Ayer has been teasing a superior cut of his disappointing feature, "Suicide Squad," which hit theaters in 2016 and performed well at the box office, despite receiving lackluster reviews. Similar to Zack Snyder's projects, Ayer's film faced studio interference, aiming to lighten the overall tone and remove violent content. Audiences anticipated something in line with the astonishing Comic-Con trailer. Although there were enjoyable moments with various characters on display, such as Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, Will Smith's Deadshot, and Jared Leto's Joker, it was evident that we were only witnessing a diluted version of the original vision.

To comprehend the numerous alterations made to "Suicide Squad," one can simply explore YouTube or conduct an extensive Google search. Leto's role, in particular, underwent significant cuts, relegating the actor to a mere cameo. In the initial version, the Joker played a significant part in the story. His relationship with Harley was portrayed as more abusive, as evident in these deleted scenes, and his character displayed greater recklessness and violence.

Evidently, the studio believed Leto's interpretation was excessively dark and diluted his character to secure a PG-13 rating, which ultimately compromised the final cut.

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The Flash: Supergirl kills

You might expect that WB had learned its lesson by now and granted filmmakers the freedom to release their original vision in theaters. Unfortunately, in "The Flash," certain scenes were trimmed due to their R-rated content, as revealed by Sasha Calle, the actress who portrays Supergirl.

Calle mentioned that the silo scene originally ran much longer and featured a plethora of stunts. However, some of these stunts were deemed too "rated R" and were ultimately cut. Despite the extensive use of visual effects in the scene, Calle expressed her desire to someday see the full footage and all the stunts that were performed.

No specific details regarding the deleted scenes were provided, but personally, I would love to see more of Supergirl, regardless of the rating. She truly stood out as the highlight of "The Flash." It is somewhat perplexing that WB would remove fake violence while allowing an extended scene featuring the nudity of star Ezra Miller to remain in a movie intended for family audiences. At some point, the studio ought to embrace a director's creative vision, even if it results in a more mature rating.