Superhero movies make a boatload of money mostly because their stories are embedded in the American cultural lexicon. But it also helps that they're almost always rated PG-13, making them explosive enough to attract adults but tame enough to recruit the whole family. At least one recent crime-fighting behemoth, however, came close to earning an R rating: "Marvel's The Avengers."
Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios, recently told Movies.com that the studio had to modify Joss Whedon's 2012 "Avengers" movie to avoid being stamped with an adults-only rating.
"When we submitted 'The Avengers,' the first couple cuts of it came back from the MPAA rated R. That happened twice," he told the site. "So we went back and had to make adjustments. Whenever you impale somebody from their back and the blade comes out their chest, there are issues."
The impaling Feige refers to is that of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose death scene is now tamer than it was in the first cut of the movie. We hear Loki (Tom Hiddleston) thrust the blade into Coulson, but it doesn't come out of the front side even after he falls to the ground.
"The Avengers" is the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time, having collected $623 million in domestic revenue. Only two of the 40 top-earning superhero flicks -- 2008's "Wanted" and 2009's "Watchmen" -- have earned R ratings. That fact alone basically corroborates the recent study about elevated violence in PG-13 movies.