R-Rated Violence Hypocrisy Exposed By Marvel Director

By Britta DeVore | Published

It’s hard to believe that we’re still talking about the rating system in 2024 but here we are. After dropping his latest title, Matthew Vaughn, who’s celebrating the release of Argylle this weekend, opened up about how movies are separated into categories specifically surrounding R-rated violence. Having helmed such other titles as X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass and three titles in the Kingsman franchise, Vaughn knows a thing or two about action and violence, but his mind was blown when he had to cut certain things from Argylle to land a PG-13 rating.

When Violence Is Unnecessary

Hoping to open up Argylle to a wider audience, Vaughn said that he wanted to stay away from R-rated violence as much as possible. He said that whereas a project “like Kick-Ass needed to be” filled with the type of vigor that would ultimately land an R, Argylle was a completely different project and could rely on more of its dashing spy story to get by. He also noted that he thought it was a cop-out for directors to go heavy-handed with the violence when they didn’t need to still get their film’s point across.

Head Vs. Chest Shots

As for the changes that were made to make Argylle more suitable for a wider age bracket, Vaughn said, “We had to make a few little cuts to get it to PG-13.” While he understood why some of these measures needed to be taken to remove what the folks at the top believed to be R-rated violence, not everything added up for the filmmaker. He revealed that “Head shots give you an R, chest shots don’t,” something that he didn’t – and still doesn’t – fully understand.

“I don’t think most people care where you’re going to get shot,” Vaughn said, adding, “If you’re gonna get shot, you’re gonna get shot.” While Vaughn makes an incredibly good point, that isn’t quite how the MPA sees it when considering what’s considered PG-13 and what’s considered R-rated violence. 

Superhero Movie Ratings

jeremy renner hawkeye avengers

Take, for example, superhero movies. Marvel and DC films would be absolutely nothing without death and destruction – otherwise, why would the world even need teams like the Avengers or the Justice League? Still, they always seem to make it into theaters under a PG-13 rating, despite most of the films depicting hoards of civilians being killed. Like Vaughn’s example of a chest shot vs. a head shot, it’s hard to see how the line is drawn for PG-13 vs. R-rated violence in this case.

Argylle Isn’t A Threatening Movie

As for Vaughn’s latest production, from the outside, it’s pretty clear why the director believed that even with a head shot, saying that Argylle contained R-rated violence was a big step. Sure, it’s a spy movie and there are plenty of action sequences, but even the color palette gives the feeling that Argylle is a non-threatening movie.

Plus, with a lineup of talent that includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill, Bryan Cranston, Dua Lipa, John Cena, and more, there’s no doubt that Vaughn was banking on his killer cast to draw more folks to the cinema – with or without the gratuitous violence.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

At the end of the day, someone will always be let down by the rating system, whether it be a parent worried about what their child is watching under the guise of PG-13 or a director like Vaughn who’s trying to get a head shot in but is concerned about going too far with R-rated violence.Source: Total Film