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British Ratings Board Defends Making Ultra-Violent ‘Suicide Squad’ Suitable for Ages 15 and Up

Many U.K. moviegoers are shocked James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" has such a low rating.

THE SUICIDE SQUAD, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, 2021. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Suicide Squad”

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” is rated R in the U.S. due to “strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use, and brief graphic nudity.” Any viewer under 17 years old will need to be accompanied by an an adult in the U.S. if they want to see the latest DC Comics tentpole on the big screen, but that’s not the case in the United Kingdom. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave Gunn’s film a 15 age rating, meaning 15-year-olds and 16-year-olds don’t need parental supervision. Given how violent and gory “The Suicide Squad” is, the BBFC’s decision has shocked U.K. moviegoers.

“The Suicide Squad” opened July 30 in the United Kingdom and was given a 15 age rating due to “strong bloody violence, gore, language and brief drug misuse.” As reported by The Independent, the lower rating has ignited controversy for the BBFC. Journalist Adam Lowes wrote on social media, “What the fuck do you have to do to earn an ‘18’ certificate nowadays?”

The BBFC defended the rating in a statement to The Independent that reads: “Whilst comparatively more violent than the last film, the violence is mitigated by the film’s humor and the action-packed fantasy context.” The organization stressed the film’s “violence and gore were sufficiently mitigated” due to “the focus on action within a comic, fantastic, superhero context”.

“At 15, our Classification Guidelines state that ‘violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury’,” the BBFC added.

Gunn was adamant about making “The Suicide Squad” an R-rated movie here in the U.S and not shying away from graphic depictions of violence. As Gunn told IndieWire earlier this week, “I [told the studio], ‘It’s going to be rated R because it’s like a war film.’ I have a big aversion to war films or gun films where people are getting shot and they’re getting thrown back and it’s [just the] impact, but no real repercussions to the violence. I hate that kind of stuff, and I’m like, ‘The only way I can do this and not have it be rated R is if I have them fighting a bunch of robots or something, and I don’t want to make a movie with a bunch of robots, I want to make a war film.’ They were like, ‘Okay, you can write it rated R.’”

“The Suicide Squad” opens August 6 in theaters and on HBO Max, where it will stream exclusively for 31 days.

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