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The Avengers Initially Earned An R Rating From The MPAA?

For the three people who haven’t watched The Avengers yet, there are SPOILERS ahead, so go Hulk out on one of our other fabulous stories.

There are plenty of differences between the blockbusters of today and those of 20-30 years ago, and one of them is the pronounced lack of R-rated movies being released, allowing for studios to maximize the teenage market that knows no spending bounds. Can you imagine what kind of box office success a film like Joss Whedon’s The Avengers would have had if it wasn’t PG-13, or how much different the marketing campaign might have gone? You might be surprised to find out that the MPAA actually did brand the superhero flick with an R for a short amount of time. And no, it wasn’t because Tony Stark told his version of the Aristocrats joke during the post-credits shawarma scene, but that would have been amazing.

It was indeed just one scene in particular that ruffled a few suited feathers, as Marvel’s head honcho Kevin Feige recently told that the death of Agent Coulson had to be trimmed down to make the more acceptable rating. And it didn’t just happen once, as the first two cuts of the film were given the harsher treatment. What adjustments had to be made exactly?

"Well," Feige explained, "whenever you impale somebody from their back and the blade comes out of their chest, there are issues." Take a look at the scene below, which features no blade penetration or bleeding wounds, but still pulls off a pretty squishy sound effect.

Now, I guess I would expect a couple of truly upstanding citizens to have complained if there was a gut-covered blade popping out of Coulson’s chest. Plus, that visibly would have looked like something that would have killed him immediately, making that death speech even goofier in retrospect. But I think we can all agree that this is a fine example of how twisted the MPAA is, allowing for a half-hour sequence where an entire city and an unknown number of civilians are destroyed by Loki’s Chitauri. I guess seeing a single person die in a close-up situation is far more damaging to teenagers’ psyches than the unseen prospect of a million people being crushed beneath giant blocks of cement. I know I slept well the night I saw it.

Feige was less inclined to talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Clark Gregg’s possible return to the big screen to reprise the role for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Probably because he’d have more ‘splaining to do, and it’s not time for that just yet. We’ll have to wait until at least next summer to hear about the MPAA slapping the sequel with an R rating because Pepper makes a bong out of an Iron Man suit.

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.