Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is intense, dark and violent — but are its adult themes so harsh the film should have been slapped with an R rating? The debate is unfolding after the Marvel Studios film opened this weekend.
Some have argued that the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, directed by Sam Raimi, should have been rated R for horror elements and at least three moments of disturbing, graphic violence involving cameos that will not be discussed here.
The debate created such a stir, the topic was trending Sunday on Twitter, some agreeing that the film is too dark and intense for PG-13, while others said the criticism was nonsense, naming other films said to have pushed the PG-13 threshold far further.
So did Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness slip one by the ratings board? No. Likely, the violence and horror elements were seen through the lens of being conducted by superheroes and supervillains, which is how parents taking their younger children to see the film would also likely interpret the images and action, thereby making PG-13 the appropriate choice. After all, the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) board is composed of an independent group of parents.
Neither the MPA nor CARA comment on rating decisions. It is the filmmaker’s prerogative whether to get into the nitty-gritty of what it took to secure a specific rating.
The PG-13 rating was introduced in 1984 after irate parents received media attention for arguing Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom was far too violent and disturbing for its PG rating. There was also an uproar over Gremlins, which Spielberg executive produced.
By that time, Spielberg had amassed enough clout that he could go to MPA president and ratings creator, the late Jack Valenti, and make a case for a new rating that would better prepare parents for a film’s content between PG and R.
The ratings change suggestion marked the first time the system was altered since its implementation in November 1968. The first film to receive a PG-13 in ’84 from the organization was Garry Marshall’s The Flamingo Kid, but because it was not released until December, the first film to come out with the new rating was Red Dawn, released in August.