Warning: Spoilers follow for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Viewers of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are debating whether the movie should have received an R rating, instead of its PG-13 designation.
Marvel unleashed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness into theaters this weekend and the film managed to secure the 11th best US opening of all time. However, many of those ticketholders are now deliberating whether the movie’s PG-13 rating is appropriate, or whether the MPAA should have awarded it with a higher age restriction.
The Doctor Strange sequel received a PG-13 rating for “intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images, and some language.” Several people have since argued that the film should have been rated R because of its occasional graphic violence and horror elements, while others have commended Sam Raimi for pushing the movie to the edge of the rating threshold.
The new Doctor Strange should have been rated R. It had some VERY disturbing scenes, including body-horror. I wouldn’t watch it again, which is sad, because Doctor Strange is one of my favorite Marvel characters.
— leif🏳️⚧️ (@Forlornian) May 7, 2022
@Marvel I am completely aware that the new doctor Strange is a big movie and you have it at PG-13 but personally I think it would be the best as R-rated because I am disturbed mentally because of a certain scene in there (rather not say to spoil) but just info for next time.
— Nate Black (@Bitmixix) May 6, 2022
Lol, this Dr Strange Multiverse of Madness is rated PG 13😂? Movie is almost as gory as Deadpool without the comedy. Some scenes had me reaching to the random kids around me like pic.twitter.com/5Jskhf9I1g
— Bane (@Sujodamystique) May 7, 2022
It’s amazing how Multiverse of Madness is more violent and disturbing than both Venom films combined yet those get rated 15 (UK equivalent of an R) while MoM gets rated 12A (UK equivalent to PG-13) lol. That’s really funny to me. pic.twitter.com/f67rV7j9Pa
— Nitro-Spidey in the Multiverse of Madness (@NitroSpidey) May 6, 2022
I don’t care what anyone says, doctor strange 2 is not a pg-13 movie #DoctorStrange
— Meeps (@Meeps16809220) May 8, 2022
There’s no denying that the film’s two-hour-and-six-minute runtime features several big scares, especially as things ramp up in the third act. There’s smatterings of bloody violence and gore, gruesome kills, and some unsettling sequences throughout, however, some people have suggested it’s no darker than other boundary-pushing PG-13 rated titles.
I’ve disagreed with many MPAA ratings, but I think PG-13 is perfectly acceptable for “Doctor Strange 2.”
IMO, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, one of the films that led to PG-13 being created, is more intense and violent than DS2.
— Stefan Ellison (@MisterCoat) May 9, 2022
Ok… does NOBODY remember Raimi’s own “Drag Me to Hell”? Because that nightmare inducing horror fest was PG-13 and was a pretty strong indicator of what his Doctor Strange would be like. The man already knew where the boundaries were because he’d pushed them way harder before. https://t.co/wrXsToOcYO
— Council of Geeks (@councilofgeeks) May 9, 2022
The Mummy is PG-13
Insidious is PG-13
The Ring is PG-13
Exorcism of Emily Rose is PG-13
A Quiet Place 1&2 are both PG-13
The idea that Doctor Strange is just too scary for a PG-13 is honestly laughable. https://t.co/Vf0tbIXcc2
— Fitz (@Fitzy205) May 9, 2022
I saw JAWS, POLTERGEIST, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, and GREMLINS growing up – all of which were even only rated *PG* – and I’m still alive https://t.co/KMQCC5QwqJ pic.twitter.com/fHTW7jITcA
— Zoe Rose Bryant (@ZoeRoseBryant) May 8, 2022
On a positive note… The horror elements in #DoctorStrange #MultiverseofMadness were top notch all thanks to mr #SamRaimi who really pushed the PG13 rating of the movie to its limit 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/w8iTZ7m9fI
— Kareem (@OkarimTheHermit) May 5, 2022
The PG-13 rating was created in 1984 in response to parents’ concerns that movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom contained too much violence for the family-friendly PG rating but didn’t qualify for an R-rating. The MPAA’s new PG-13 rating would allow for “depictions of violence,” but “generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence.”
As The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, Doctor Strange 2 might be the scariest MCU entry so far but the film most likely received its PG-13 certificate because much of the violence and horror elements were carried out at the hands of superheroes and supervillains rather than ordinary people, which is how parents would likely interpret the more intense scenes.
MCU movies have never crossed the R-rated threshold, but we know that Deadpool 3 will be the first MCU movie to break that barrier.
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IGN’s review of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness called it “a Sam Raimi movie from top to bottom, for better and worse,” noting that “the script is downright hokey sometimes, and there are odd moments that are weird for the sake of it without adding anything to the overall lore or character development,” but “fans will never once be bored”.
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.