‘Black Adam’ Was Recut to Avoid an R Rating: ‘The Movie Was Just Really Violent’

The Dwayne Johnson DC film was rated R “for several weeks”

Dwayne Johnson in "Black Adam" (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Dwayne Johnson makes his big DC universe debut in “Black Adam” this week, but when the superhero pic was first submitted to the MPA, it earned an R rating.

“We were battling with the [MPA] for a while, we were an R rating for several weeks, and it took a lot of work to get us under, to like make enough little tweaks to be able to get to that PG-13 bar,” producer Hiram Garcia told TheWrap in a recent interview.

Johnson’s Black Adam is an anti-hero-like character who doles out his own sense of justice, killing at will, which stands in contrast to a number of other major superheroes that normally front their own movies.

But Garcia, who is also president of production at Seven Bucks Productions, explained that the filmmaking team had already decided to push the boundaries of the PG-13 rating during production and then pull back as necessary in the editing room.

“We always knew that we were going to be in that situation because we knew we were going to push it, and then we knew we’re gonna have to really work to get ourselves [to a PG-13], but we wanted to maximize that PG-13 rating, just to make sure we were honoring the character.”

So what put “Black Adam” over the edge?

“The movie was just really violent,” Garcia explained. “The movie was just violent. And obviously we always knew we were going to end up at a PG-13 spot, that was our intention for the global audience. But it’s much easier to tone back than it is to try and edge up. So when we went into this film, we all collectively said let’s push it, let’s have some fun with what Black Adam can do.”

Garcia added that they were never aiming for something on the level of the Prime Video series “The Boys,” for instance. “Obviously, we weren’t going for Homelander-level of violence, which is a different kind of vibe.”

In “Black Adam,” Johnson plays a character who is unleashed from nearly 5,000 years of imprisonment into modern times, where he comes into contact with the Justice Society of America who tries to teach him how to be a hero.

“Black Adam” would not have been the first major superhero movie with an R-rating – Marvel’s “Deadpool” was famously a massive success despite its R-rating, as was its sequel, and the more serious “Logan” was released with an R-rating for violence and language. On the DC side, there is of course “Joker,” which earned an Oscar for Joaquin Phoenix and grossed over $1 billion.

Ultimately, “Black Adam” scored a PG-13 rating for “sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language.”

Johnson reteams with his “Jungle Cruise” director Jaume Collet-Serra on the film, which has been nearly a decade in the making as the “Jumanji” star worked to find the right take. With its release imminent, Johnson formally enters the DC universe and launches potentially the next major superhero franchise.

“Black Adam” opens exclusively in theaters on Oct. 21.