Christopher Nolan Cut A ‘Sickening’ Death Scene From The Dark Knight Rises To Avoid A Possible NC-17 Rating

Like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, the conclusion to director Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman mythology, was packed with a lot of action, but still walked away with a PG-13 rating, as so many comic book movies do. However, there’s a scenario where The Dark Knight Rises would have been stamped NC-17, and Nolan avoided that simply by removing the original death scene for Matthew Modine’s character.

In case it’s been a while since you’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises, Matthew Modine starred as Peter Foley, Commissioner James Gordon’s second-in-command who did not approve of Batman’s return to Gotham City, and was later gunned down during the GCPD’s clash against Bane’s forces

However, that’s not initially how Peter Foley was supposed to die in The Dark Knight Rises. Here’s what Matthew Modine had to say about his character originally met his demise, and why Christopher Nolan cut it out, during his recent appearance on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast to promote the 4K release of his 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket:

He cut my death scene out of Dark Knight Rises. Because he said it was so violent that it would have gotten an NC-17 rating. … Marion Cotillard -- after Bane dies and Batman, Chris [Bale] gets stabbed, she gets in one of those vehicles. She starts to drive away, and I’m shooting at her. And I got run over. All it does is, it just cuts, and I’m on the ground, dead. But it was so violent. The guy that was doubling me got hit by the car. They put a plexiglass thing on the front of [the car] and he got hit. They had ropes to pull him into the air, but he went up and they dropped him from about 15 feet, and the sound of his body hitting the cobblestone street in front of the New York Stock Exchange, it was sickening. And I remember I looked at Christopher Nolan when we shot it and his face was white. He was like, ‘OK, let's move on. We got that.’ But it was like, ‘Oh my God, is that guy going to get up? Is he okay?’ But [Nolan] said that if he would have put it in the movie, it would’ve got an NC-17 rating because it was so violent.

Yikes! While there are plenty of movies where characters are badly injured or killed after being hit by a car, it sounds like the way Christopher Nolan shot Peter Foley being run down by one of the Tumblers was just way too intense, and just enough to catapult The Dark Knight Rises from PG-13 to NC-17. Maybe Nolan envisioned it wouldn’t look as brutal when planning the movie, but this serves as another example of how things can change in the midst of principal photography.

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Instead, Talia al Ghul ordered her minion driving the Tumbler to shoot any GCPD officers that were in their way as they drove off, and unfortunately, Peter Foley was among them. You can relive that moment with the below clip:

While Christopher Nolan kicked off his directorial career with the R-rated movies Following, Memento and Insomnia, ever since Batman Begins, he’s been a PG-13 man, most recently with Tenet. Considering how popular Batman is, having the Dark Knight trilogy entries operate in the PG-13 realm was the best way to draw in the largest crowds possible. If The Dark Knight Rises had been rated NC-17, you can be sure the theatrical turnout would have been significantly lower.

Released to the public on July 20, 2012, The Dark Knight Rises was the most commercially successful movie of the Dark Knight trilogy, raking in approximately $1.081 billion. And while views will differ on the movie’s quality compared to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, overall it was met with a lot of positive reception, ranking at 87% among critics and 90% among audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

Eight years later, the Batman film franchise has big things coming up, as not only will Robert Pattinson debut as the Caped Crusader next year in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, but both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s iterations of the character will appear in Andy Muschietti’s The Flash. Does that means it’s possible Christian Bale could someday put the cape and cowl back on? If that happens, rest assured, we here at CinemaBlend will let you know.

In the meantime, keep track of the movies set to hit theaters in the near future with our 2020 release schedule and 2021 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.