Opinion: Should Marvel Moves be Rated R?


Many people are familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The MCU has risen to popularity, bringing fans’ favorite comic-book superheroes to the big screen, all while being suitable for most ages. But while the company is known to advertise that its movies are family-friendly, some people are beginning to question their ratings and what it means for a movie to be rated PG-13. 

Since its beginning as a comic, Marvel has created one of the most popular superhero franchises ever. The comic-book company was founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman. Originally called Timely, it was renamed in 1961 to the name we know today, Marvel. 

Marvel began with the launch of popular comics that included Fantastic Four, Spider-man, the Incredible Hulk, and many others. People loved these comic books, and this success encouraged Marvel to try and translate them onto the big screen. In 2008 they created the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)  movie, Iron Man. The film was a hit, and the MCU expanded to the powerhouse it is today, totaling 33 different films.  

One of the reasons for Marvel’s success is its family-friendly rating. Their PG-13 rating allows young kids ages (6-12) to watch their movies with parental guidance. But should this be the case? 

There has been recent controversy concerning one of Marvel’s newest movies, Eternals. Like most MCU movies, Eternals is rated PG-13, yet there are arguably “inappropriate” scenes throughout the movie. Eternals pushes family-friendly standards to the limit, from suicide to explicit content with this movie. Exposing kids to this content at an early age can be damaging. 

American Academy of Pediatrics, among other groups, states that “Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed. And, in fact, advocates for,  “more useful and effective media ratings.”

The official definition of PG-13 is described by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as “a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them. A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category.” 

To get an official R rating, a movie must contain, in the view of the rating board, “adult material,” Including: “adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously.”

When comparing the official definition of R-rated movies to many controversial PG-13 movies, like Venom, we can get the idea that Marvel Movies are rated PG-13 so they can target a larger audience instead of actually fitting the standards that are put in place in order to prevent children from viewing above age content. In fact, a Brigham Young University study shows that Rated-R movies generate half the amount of revenue that PG-13 movies make. This extra revenue provides a great reason for  Marvel to make their movies PG-13.

One important thing to point out is that Marvel has made Rated-R movies. Deadpool and its sequel were R-rated movies that were very successful, and this success made people think that maybe Marvel would start to shift towards Rated-R movies. However, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said Marvel has no plans to continue R-Rated movies.

According to Deadline News, Feige says, “We target everything we’re doing for kids and adults.” Adding, “while the Deadpool franchise has been successful with R-rated films, PG-13 ratings are just fine for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lineup.” 

So Marvel plans on continuing to make movies rated PG-13. Does this mean they will continue to stretch the boundaries that are enforced, or will they make their movies more child friendly in the future?