Black Adam Was Censored To Keep The Movie’s Rating

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

The Marvel and DC cinematic franchises include some pretty violent films. Dwayne Johnson, who plays Black Adam in DC’s newest DCU film, Black Adam, wanted his movie to be just as violent as the rest (if not more so) because his character is supposed to be one of the most powerful comic book characters ever written. Warner Bros. did their best to meet Johnson’s expectations, but they had to censor a few things in order to keep the film rated PG-13, according to a Before and Afters interview with Digital Domain, the special effects company that worked on Black Adam

While Black Adam is arguably one of the most violent DC films, it took a lot of work from the team behind the movie to make sure the MPAA didn’t rate it that way. While the DCU already has a few rated R flicks, like The Suicide Squad, and Marvel’s Deadpool 3 will be receiving an R rating, producers of Black Adam wanted to make sure the feature stayed PG-13. This meant that despite some pretty cool effects, they had to bring the violence down a notch.

In one of the first scenes in the new DCU movie (directed by Jaume Collet-Serra), Black Adam fights a team of mercenaries at the Rock of Eternity, a fight that ends with the cloaked titular character literally melting the face of his opponent down to the bone. While this horrifying image made it into the final cut of the film, apparently, a funnier (but still gruesome) moment had to be cut in order for the film to maintain PG-13 status.

When speaking with Befores and Afters about the special effects that went into creating the anti-hero movie, Digital Domain visual effects supervisor Nikos Kalaitzidis and digital effects supervisor Greg Teegarden spilled the tea on one scene that had to get cut from the final version of the movie. 

During the fight with the mercenaries, there is a moment where Black Adam tears the arm from one of his opponents. Apparently, no matter what they did, the arm seemed fake. To fix the issue, the team decided to add a bit of “tasteful” gore to the action.

After Black Adam rips the arm off the body of the mercenary, he drops it on the ground. The team at Digital Domain felt like this was an ample opportunity to include a moment of gory comedy. Using special effects, the team made the finger on the dismembered arm twitch briefly after it hit the ground.

While everyone on the team loved the moment, once it was added to the version of the film sent to the MPAA, Black Adam lost its PG-13 status and was given an R rating. Hence, the producers ordered that the editors cut out a few frames to censor the finger twitch, and Black Adam got its PG-13 status back again.

The team at Digital Domain pretty much confirmed that Black Adam went as far as it possibly could in terms of violence without actually receiving a more mature rating.

Black Adam is currently in theaters and will be released digitally on January 3, 2023.