Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is going R-rated — sort of. While the film will maintain its standard PG-13 rating in its theatrical release, Warner Bros. is also releasing a grittier, more adult cut of the movie in a DVD/Blu-Ray known as the Ultimate Edition.
In a recent posting on its ratings board, the Motion Picture Association of America confirmed that the extended home entertainment version of this Zack Snyder-directed flick will be restricted to those 17 and up. Why? As you can probably guess, it’s not because Dawn of Justice will be packed with nudity, profanity, or anything of that nature. Instead, Entertainment Weekly reports that this alternate version of the movie was rated R specifically for “sequences of violence.”
That should come as no huge surprise, considering that Snyder has made it clear that his vision for the film was largely inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, a comic series known for portraying an extremely dark and brooding version of Batman. It also fits in with Warner Bros.’ larger plans for creating a comic book-inspired cinematic universe that’s edgier and less family-friendly than previous superhero releases.
Still, the R-rating could be about more than just creating a cohesive tone. News of Ultimate Edition comes just after Marvel’s adult-skewing Deadpool pulled in record-breaking numbers at the box office, proving that a restricted rating doesn’t have to be a financial hindrance, if done right. The movie’s overwhelming success ($497.6 million worldwide in around two weeks) has studio execs nationwide taking notice and rethinking their own release strategies — a trend that Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn accurately predicted in a lengthy social media post a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, Dawn of Justice was shot well before Deadpool‘s premiere, so whatever bonus material is included in the R-rated home version was already filmed prior to the latter’s success. Plus, Snyder isn’t exactly a stranger to violent material, having previously directed the R-rated flicks, 300 and Watchmen (both of which also released extended versions on DVD/Blu-Ray).
Still, while Deadpool likely isn’t the sole reason for the newly announced restricted cut, it’s hard to think one had nothing to do with the other. We don’t know when exactly Warner Bros. submitted the film for an R-rating, but given Deadpool‘s smashing success, it’s not crazy to think that the studio may have seen an opportunity to take advantage of the momentum by announcing an official R-rated version of its own. As Forbes put it, “the choice to submit the film for that R-rating wasn’t made in a vacuum, folks.”
Whatever the studio’s reasoning for the restricted rated cut is, fans now have another, even longer version of Batman v Superman to look forward to. As of now, it’s unclear exactly how much bonus material the Ultimate Edition DVD will include. But considering the theatrical edition already has a long running time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, the R-rated version could be pushing the three-hour mark.