Zack Snyder Explains Why Justice League Is R-Rated

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The vast majority of comic book blockbusters tend to stay away from an R-rating, given that it alienates a huge part of the audience, with the family crowd usually integral to propelling the movies to massive box office success. In recent years, the Deadpool duology, Logan and Joker have bucked the trend to do big business, so naturally curiosity was piqued when it was announced that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would be geared towards older viewers.

Superheroes battling evil inter-dimensional enemies is hardly breaking new ground for the genre, but rarely does it ever involve any significant levels of blood and gore. However, Warner Bros. handed Snyder the complete creative freedom to do whatever he wanted with his four-hour epic, and as a result, the level of violence has drastically increased throughout the lengthy running time.

Batman and Cyborg drop F-bombs, Darkseid’s first assault on Earth leaves him a bloody mess, and Wonder Woman is happy to obliterate a rogue band of terrorists. Sometimes it suits the story, and other times it feels unnecessary, but in a new interview, Snyder essentially admitted that the R-rating was simply down to him finally having the leeway to get away with it.

“Let’s just do it the exact way we would if there was no ratings board. Let’s not use any second guessing. Let’s just do it the way we think is the coolest. That was the philosophical approach. I always feel that the consequence is important to me, that there’s real stakes. It still is abstract, you know. These are gods fighting men. Which is also part of the point. We can’t really fight them. Humans can’t really fight them.

If you don’t address the actual violence as violence, to me, you’re lowering the stakes on all levels. If the superhero smashes the car, and the whole car explodes, and you just see the guy kind of crawl out of the wreckage, and you’re like, oh okay, it’s still PG-13, the fact you don’t show the blood is a technicality. The violence is still there. I want a true depiction of the violence. I don’t want to sugarcoat it.”

It wouldn’t have made a marked difference to the Snyder Cut had it retained a PG-13 rating, but every single frame is unquestionably the filmmaker’s unfiltered vision for the project, so in the end, Justice League lives up to its billing by offering HBO Max subscribers exactly the movie he wanted to make all along, and in this case, that features grittier and much more tangible violence during the action sequences.