THE BATMAN’s PG-13 Rating Puts Hollywood’s Disregard for Christian Audiences on Full Display

Photo from IMDb

THE BATMAN’s PG-13 Rating Puts Hollywood’s Disregard for Christian Audiences on Full Display

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

THE BATMAN, director Matt Reeves’ adaptation of one of the most popular comic book superheroes in history, opened to a successful $128 million in its debut weekend. 

Played by Robert Pattinson, THE BATMAN is the ninth live-action portrayal of the masked vigilante in a long list of movies and series. Christian Bale portrayed Batman in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and Ben Affleck appeared in Zack Snyder’s recent DC comic book movies. 

Reeves’s adaptation followed a trend of previous Batman movies and did not breach a PG-13 rating. This allowed THE BATMAN to draw in a larger swath of potential audience members. However, THE BATMAN pushed the boundaries of what constitutes an R-rating.  

Filmratings.com reported that Reeves’ movie received a PG-13 rating for “strong violent and disturbing content, drug content, strong language, and some suggestive material.”

“Though this rating may come as a surprise to those who have seen previews for the latest retelling of the caped crusader, we are here to remind you that even director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy received the same PG-13 rating,” Collider’s Britta Devore wrote. “Those movies were ripe with disturbing scenes and imagery…”

“With all of this in mind, it’s hard to say where the PG-13 rating ends and the R begins,” Devore added. “PG-13 films can still be filled with swear words, as long as they don’t go over the edge with usage. This rule is particularly for the f-bomb, of which PG-13 films only get one before being knocked to an R rating.”

Variety reported: “Sources close to the film say ‘The Batman,’ which is grounded more in reality than recent DC adaptations, was able to nab a PG-13 rather than an R-rating because it doesn’t have excessive foul language or nudity…”

Despite the lack of excessive f-bombs and nudity, THE BATMAN’s push for a PG-13 rating puts Hollywood’s disregard for God and the Christian audience on full display with excessive use of God and Jesus’ name as substitutionary, “less offensive” curse words. 

As Movieguide®’s review points out, there are over 35 uses of “strong profanities” in THE BATMAN. 

A portion of Movieguide®’s review reads

THE BATMAN takes place in a dark world and is seriously hampered by many strong profanities about Jesus and other foul language. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution. THE BATMAN has lots of intense action violence and two big endings instead of just one. However, it tells an exciting, compelling story that engages viewers. THE BATMAN also has a strong redemptive, morally uplifting worldview where justice, hope, goodness, faith, and redemption overcome vengeance, political corruption and criminal behavior.

In recent years, Hollywood has deemed “Jesus Christ” as a curse word, as less offensive—or less worthy of a more severe rating—than the f-word. 

In one respect, the flippancy with which Hollywood directors use Christ’s name is likely less offensive than if it was used correctly within a Christian or biblical context.

In a study from 2017, The Hollywood Reporter notes

Filmmakers using “f*ck,” “Godd*m” and “Jesus Christ” as a swear risk losing some of their audience, according to a new Harris poll.

Using “Jesus Christ” to swear is the biggest offense, with 33 percent of the general public saying they’d be less likely to see a movie if they knew beforehand of that particular piece of dialogue. “Godd*m” was second at 32 percent and “f*ck” was third with 31 percent.

However, it is clear that filmmakers and those who rate movies do not apply the same standard, and this rating system is deeply flawed. 

According to the British Board of Film Classification, profanities such “Jesus Christ” or “God” are on the same level as “butt” or “jerk.” 

One example from THE BATMAN is when Batman unintentionally surprises Catwoman. Catwoman’s immediate response is to exclaim, “Jesus.” 

The Bible paints a different picture regarding the severity of using God’s name casually. 

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” – Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

Throughout scripture, honor, and power are connected to the very name of Jesus and God.  

Author and theologian John Piper wrote in 2013: 

We don’t take the words seriously when we use God as a throwaway word or Jesus Christ as a word for when I just hit my finger or something terrible just happened or damn as a swear word or hell as a throwaway swear word. The problem with all those is that they take things that are unbelievably important and serious and they turn them into moments of smallness. There is a disconnect. There is a lack of coherence and harmony between the way they are being used and the weight that they should carry.

If a person uses God and Jesus Christ and damn and hell as a throwaway standard expression of irritation or anger, he is belittling God, belittling Christ, belittling the serious of damnation, and belittling hell. We ought not to belittle these big things.

While viewers should not disregard the redemptive themes of THE BATMAN due to its use of profanity, media discernment is essential for parents to protect their children and, more importantly, to honor God.  

A biblical worldview helps viewers look deeper, past a PG-13 rating, and assess how any form of media content affects their soul. 

Movieguide® previously reported

As entertainment and media inundate users across the globe with different ideologies, moral and immoral content, and various and contradicting worldviews, it is vital to practice media wisdom through a biblical lens. 

But the responsibility for teaching and practicing media wisdom falls on every Christian, not just younger generations, and not just parents who want to protect their children “train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6).  

In the battle for people’s souls, media has become one of the most important battlegrounds. 

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.