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The Great Venom R-Rated Debate: What Happened And Why Is The Movie Actually Going To Be PG-13

Carnage in Venom: Let There Be Carnage
(Image credit: (Sony))

There was a time when superhero movies were PG-13 only. But then Deadpool came around along with Logan, The Suicide Squad and Watchmen to say, oh yeah, adult-only superhero movies are loads of fun. With Sony adapting the character of Venom, many fans have hoped to see Tom Hardy and his unlikely symbiote friend (roommate?) go into R-rated territory, but alas, the upcoming sequel Let There Be Carnage is sticking with the classic PG-13. That, of course, was followed by a lot of "whys".

Naturally the film’s director, Andy Serkis (yes, Gollum himself), has the answer to that question. With Venom: Let There Be Carnage coming to theaters in less than two weeks, the filmmaker shared his thoughts on making the Spider-Verse film perhaps tamer than some would hope. In his words:

You could go down an R-rated adult version of this. Of course you could. You could have done that with the last film. But we wanted to reach a big audience with this and… there are several rules you have to abide by. However, having said that, I think we have pushed to the very limits [with] the danger and darkness and the threat and the menace of Carnage.

The PG-13 rating gives Sony the opportunity to make more money, and it decided to say yes to the dollar signs. And hey, the proof is in the pudding. Back in 2018, when the first Venom movie (also PG-13) hit theaters, it earned over $850 million worldwide. That places it in fourth place among highest-earning Spider-Man-related movies. Widening Venom to a larger audience helped the studio turn a huge profit then, despite disappointing reviews, and therefore the studio understandably wants to repeat history with the sequel.

Andy Serkis spoke about the rating of Venom: Let There Be Carnage while speaking on Instagram Live with IGN. During the conversation, the director also dove deeper in what fans can expect from the violence in the upcoming movie:

Just because you don't see so much gore — perhaps there's not so much blood or... seeing heads being bitten off — you can still suggest that. The suggestion, leaving it to the audience's imagination, can be just as powerful. I think that's just what we managed to do. It's certainly not shying away from the darkness. And the real heart of Carnage as a character isn't compromised at all.

He’s right, a rating doesn’t necessarily define how gory or violent a movie will feel. It really all comes down to how the movie handles the material in a way that makes the audience feel a certain type of way while watching it. The first fans who got to see it ahead of its October 1 release seemed to really dig it, and early projections place Venom: Let There Be Carnage becoming another huge box office hit for Sony. So it seems like maybe it didn’t need the R-rating after all. We’ll reserve our opinions for the upcoming release until it has come out.

Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.