Behind the horror: Should ‘Doctor Strange 2’ have been rated R instead of PG-13?
The latest Marvel movie has been rated PG-13 even though it contains many scenes with intense violence and action
The newest Marvel movie, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” is exactly how MCU chief Kevin Feige described it — the franchise's “first horror film.”
With “intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language,” this movie was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association.
With Sam Raimi, who was involved in the “Evil Dead” franchise, as the director, people already anticipated some level of unsettling horror in the newest Marvel film, per Collider.
Trailers indicated the presence of disturbing images, like Wanda Maximoff covered in blood or Doctor Strange and his unbelievably scary nightmares.
Variety’s television analyst and critic Clayton Davis wrote that it would be safe to classify the movie “as the most ‘adult’ MCU outing yet.”
The MPAA ratings have always drawn criticism
The MPAA’s descriptions, which usually accompany the ratings, are often fair, but the ratings themselves have faced public scrutiny. Even former President Donald Trump, in February 2018, said: “You see these movies, they’re so violent and yet a kid is able to see a movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved.”
Take the example of Warner Bros.’s “Dunkirk,” released in 2017, which featured bombing, shooting, suicide and a whole lot of death. Multiple men drown while one is burned alive, yet this movie still received a PG-13 rating.
When asked for comment, the MPAA told Vanity Fair what went behind its decision-making: “The rating system does not make any judgment about the content, including sexuality, depicted in movies. Rather, raters ask the question any parent would ask: What would I want to know about this film before I decide to let my child see it?”
As for the descriptions, they “inform parents what elements are present at the assigned rating level,” according to the MPAA. “As stated in its Rules, it is not C.A.R.A.’s purpose to prescribe social policy, ‘but instead to reflect the current values of the majority of American parents.’ Elements such as violence, language, drug use, and sexuality are continually re-evaluated through surveys and focus groups to better assist parents in making family viewing choices.”
With that said, viewers are taking to social media to make a case for whether “Doctor Strange” should be PG-13 or not.
Some agree that the horror elements may be too overwhelming for the movie not to be rated R.
@Marvel I am completely aware that the new doctor Strange is a big movie and you have it at PG-13 but personally I think it would be the best as R-rated because I am disturbed mentally because of a certain scene in there (rather not say to spoil) but just info for next time.— Nate Black (@Bitmixix) May 6, 2022
Doctor Strange 2 is too scary to be rated PG-13. It's too violent. And scary.— Mace (@MaceLikeSpace) May 11, 2022
It’s amazing how Multiverse of Madness is more violent and disturbing than both Venom films combined yet those get rated 15 (UK equivalent of an R) while MoM gets rated 12A (UK equivalent to PG-13) lol. That’s really funny to me. pic.twitter.com/f67rV7j9Pa— Nitro-Spidey (@NitroSpidey) May 6, 2022
The film has plenty of gore in it, but some people argued that this rating is no different than what other movies have received.
For everyone saying DOCTOR STRANGE 2 is “too scary” for PG-13, let’s not forget — Temple of Doom was PG pic.twitter.com/83epR9QVx5— Tito Abella (@titMcGrit2) May 11, 2022
Seen a lot of people talk about Doctor Strange 2’s PG-13 rating being too light, so I would like to bring up Revenge of The Sith, which showed a man get dismembered and then burnt alive for 30 seconds on screen! First PG-13 Star Wars film, and it definitely earned it! pic.twitter.com/rJU6jO6vwE— Star Wars Takes (@StarWarsTake) May 11, 2022
Truth. You can say that Doctor Strange pushed the boundaries of the PG-13 rating while ALSO acknowledging other films did it, too.— Ant 💀 Waiting for Halloween (@AGramuglia) May 11, 2022
Because, quite frankly, neither of these films go as hard as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom did. https://t.co/Cm8lRPWr4Z
What can parents expect from ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’?
There are quite a few jump scares where the villain, and creatures doing the villain’s bidding, attack the superheroes. Several characters are injured and killed.
One fight completely destroys an area, with some people burned to death and turned into ash, according to Common Sense media. Demonic beings resurrect a body from the dead.
The language occasionally slips into cussing, while there is barely any romance or mention of sex. The characters act bravely and selflessly, working together for the greater good, which works well as positive messaging. On the flip side, one character’s selfishness leads to ruin.
Even though the superheroes in the movie are trying to save the universe, they balance their personal happiness and pursue their agendas with loyalty to one another.
Is ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ worth watching?
This new MCU movie has a darker spin, with more shocking and violent deaths by the hands of witches and sorcerers, offering a variety and depth in the story which is different from other Marvel movies.
Dan Jolin, of Empire Magazine, said the movie was “Marvel’s most deranged and energetic movie yet, as much of a winning comeback for director Sam Raimi as it is a mega-budget exercise in universal stakes-raising.”
The sequel “Doctor Strange” movie has made over $500 million worldwide, out of which more than $200 million came from the domestic market, according to Deadline.
With that said, the movie barely beat out the worst-rated Marvel movie, “Eternals,” tying with the first “Thor” movie, based on CinemaScore. The Rotten Tomato ratings indicate something similar, with a 75% critic score and 87% audience score — pretty lukewarm for a Marvel movie.