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10 Comic Book Movies That Pushed The Boundaries Of PG-13

Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

It’s no surprise that the latest MCU film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, skims the limits of its PG-13 rating given that its director is horror icon Sam Raimi. And while there have been some notable R-rated superhero movies like dead Pool and Loganthe genre is known to be quite family friendly.

However, there are a few PG-13 comic book movies that push the boundaries of their ratings, whether through excessive violence or darker themes. They might not have that R-rating, but those taking young kids to the movies might want to stick with a lighter fare.

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The Batman (2022)


Robert Pattinson as Batman Walking in the Rain in The Batman 2022

Matt Reeves’ The Batman does a lot of different things than most Batman movies – and comic book movies in general. The majority of the scenes involving the Riddler and his disturbing acts are more akin to a horror movie with direct elements from the Seen franchise.

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Twisted murders, political conspiracies, illegal substance abuse, and even the way Batman punishes criminals lead to The Batman to be on the verge of an R rating. Many were surprised that The Batman has a PG-13.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)


doctor-strange-2-wanda-and-speak-strange

While there are certainly elements of his Spider-Man trilogy, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is actually closer to Raimi’s roots in horror. Yes, it has the explosive CGI-filled action sequences that the MCU excels at, but there are plenty of sequences in Doctor Strange 2 who filled up evil Deadfrom Raimi’s signature camera angles to bizarre edits to even taking similar plot elements from diabolical death.


In addition to that, Doctor Strange 2 is a contender for the MCU’s most brutal movie for how the Scarlet Witch takes down the Illuminati – deaths that could easily be used in mortal combat.

Batman (1989)


A wounded Batman inside the church tower in Batman 1989

Tim Burton changed the way Hollywood viewed Batman with his 1989 film starring Michael Keaton. Gone is the campiness and goofy villains of the Adam West era; now Gotham was a dark, grimy city overrun with criminals.

Batman was now an outright killer and throughout the film men are electrocuted to death, falling into chemical vats and the like. Batman pushed boundaries and helped pave the way for comic book movies to take themselves more seriously.


Spiderman 2 (2004)


Doc Ock's tentacles go wild in Spider-Man 2

Although there are certainly darker elements in the first Sam Raimi Spider Man movie, it remained a mostly fun origin story about the web-headed superhero. Spiderman 2on the other hand, went in a darker direction with not just the introduction of tragic villain Otto Octavius, aka Doc Ock, but everything in Peter Parker’s life.

Peter is going through an existential crisis, his own best friend hates him, and he’s still struggling with his toxic relationship with Mary Jane. Harry actually wants to assassinate Spider-Man, and everything about Doc Ock is much darker, especially a scene involving his tentacles that looks straight out of a horror movie.


Batman Returns (1992)


Michael Keaton as Batman Staring at a Clown in Batman Returns

It’s the one that actually caused controversy when it was first released based on scenes in which Penguin almost bit off someone’s nose and Batman actually strapped a bomb on a thug. Return of Batman doubled down on all the darker elements now that Burton introduced in the first film.

Over the years, more and more fans have enjoyed Return of Batman as it is the director’s clear vision and offers a darker but fantastical look at the world of Batman. However, according to Film Stories, in 1992 the parents were quite upset that Return of Batman was marketed to the whole family.

Batman: Under Red Riding Hood (2010)


Batman and the Red Hood fight on a rooftop in Batman Under The Red Hood

There have been many Batman animated movies, but they generally stick to a standard PG-13 rating. Under the red riding hood goes further than the opening scene alone with Joker beating a teenager to death with a crowbar before the boy is the victim of an explosion.


RELATED: 10 Best Batman Under The Red Hood Quotes

Of the, Under the red riding hood deals with crime lords, Batman’s guilt over losing an adopted son, and a surprising amount of gore. There’s a scene where someone’s head explodes in a big splatter of blood. It may just be off-camera, but it doesn’t take much of the imagination to figure out what happened.

Batman Begins (2005)


Batman overlooking Gotham with a swarm of bats in the Batman Begins banner

After batman and robin took the franchise to its most childish, Christopher Nolan rebooted Batman in 2005 with batman begins.

Part of what makes batman begins the best origin story for the Caped Crusader is how dark it makes Gotham City. Scarecrow and his fear toxin bring a brief element of horror, and Bruce Wayne’s journey to becoming Batman is more brutal than what’s come before.

Hellboy (2004)


Hellboy grabbing Sammael's tongue in Hellboy 2004

The notion of Hellboy on its own makes for a darker superhero story. He is a demon sent to Earth to destroy humanity but ended up becoming its greatest defender. He fights demons and monsters from many different mythologies and lore, usually in more gruesome and gruesome ways.

This shouldn’t be a surprise considering Hellboy is one of Guillermo Del Toro’s best films. The director also directed Blade II for Marvel, and he clearly loves dark fantasy. Hellboy dives right into the Eldritch horror that even HP Lovecraft would be proud of.

The Wolverine (2013)


Logan fighting Shingen in The Wolverine 2013

Whether it’s the theatrical cut or the even bloodier extended cut, The glutton is the film that allowed Logan to be made in all its R-rated glory. It was the first time Logan’s claws had drawn blood from those he had cut, and it made his fight much more impactful.

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The glutton overall had a much darker tone than previous X-Men movies with Logan cutting himself off from society while living with PTSD. On top of that there’s the subplot of Logan losing his healing factor and the shady conspiracy within a wealthy family that leads into twisted rabbit holes.

The Dark Knight (2008)


Joker in a holding cell in The Dark Knight.

With the addition of Heath Ledger’s Joker, The black Knight managed to be even darker than its predecessor. The Joker is as much a domestic terrorist as he is a terrifying serial killer, and every action he takes adds to the realism of the Nolanverse.


Joker’s gruesome and twisted deeds make it horrific because they could actually happen in the real world. The black Knight was a mature film centered on themes of morality and deconstructing the idea of ​​a masked hero.

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