After the Multiversal chaos of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the MCU will finally return to screens this month with Oscar Issac's Moon Knight. The Disney+ series will offer viewers a deep exploration of Steven Grant's mental health struggles and multiple personalities with plenty of brutal violence on the way as he becomes the Fist of Vengeance.
With Moon Knight being known by many as one of Marvel's most mature heroes, the decision to keep his series rated PG-13 was a controversial one. The family-friendly age rating has been a staple of the MCU since the beginning, but many believed Moon Knight should be the first to cross the boundary into an R-rating to depict his violent nature and adult themes in a more adult way.
Nonetheless, the Disney+ series premieres in a matter of days, and based on the rave reviews from critics, it appears the rating didn't hinder Moon Knight. Oscar Issac's MCU debut has been described in the past as the darkest entry in the universe to date, and recent comments indicate the team was eager to take the series as far as they could.
Moon Knight Writer Teases Heavy Violence
During the red carpet premiere for Moon Knight, Variety had the chance to talk to series head writer Jeremy Slater, who teased the MCU's heaviest PG-13 violence yet.
Slated revealed his initial determination from the pitching stage to "bring some horror into the MCU" and to "really push that envelope as far as [they] can:"
"I came in, and I was pitching, and I was like, I wanna see some Raiders of the Lost Ark, I wanna see some Ghostbusters. I wanna bring some horror into the MCU, some scary monsters, and really push that envelope as far as we can."
The MCU newcomer went on to say Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was "so supportive" of the direction and told them not to worry about "pulling [their] punches," with the focus remaining on telling the best story possible:
"And Kevin [Feige] and Marvel were so supportive of that. So we really just used Kevin as our sort of litmus test in terms of how far are we going - is this something we should pull back on? And sort of at every turn he really just pushed us to just tell the best story. And don't worry about pulling back, or don't worry about sort of pulling your punches."
Even though Moon Knight is certainly the darkest and most violent MCU venture to date, Slater insists it's "defiantly still appropriate for all ages" as they wanted to avoid making the series "inaccessible to a big chunk of the MCU fan base:"
"I think it's definitely appropriate for all ages, that was important to us. We didn't wanna make something that was inaccessible to a big chunk of the MCU fan base. And we know that people watch these shows with their kids and with their families, and that's important to people."
Despite this, the Moon Knight writer was eager to push the PG-13 age rating to its limits to "give people some goosebumps" and have violence "that you may have never seen before in an MCU thing:"
"But I was like: 'Let's get as PG-13 as we possibly can, let's give people some goosebumps, let's have some violence in there that you may have never seen before in an MCU thing. And Marvel was so supportive of that. They were so cool about it."
Will Moon Knight Be Kid-Friendly?
Marvel Studios has built itself a reputation for producing light-hearted superhero action flicks for all the family. Moon Knight looks set to be the biggest departure from the classic MCU formula yet as it delivers a deep exploration of mental health struggles alongside brutal violent action and a dark tone.
Despite the darker push for Moon Knight, the Disney+ series will be sticking to the MCU's PG-13 standard, ignoring calls for an R-rated take on the Fist of Vengeance. While some diehard fans of the character are disappointed by the direction, many will be pleased to see the MCU will be remaining accessible to its massive younger audience.
For some younger viewers, Moon Knight may prove to be the most adult film or television they've seen yet. Given the darker and more mature themes present in the series, along with the promises of brutal action, some parents might wish to accompany their kids through this one.
There can be a fine line between PG-13 and R-rated which Marvel Studios appears set to walk carefully. Typically, the dividing line between the two ratings can include nudity, excessive foul language, and extreme violence. With Moon Knight remaining firmly in the family-friendly age range, fans should expect the Disney+ series to hold back on graphic depictions of violence, with the majority of blood and gore remaining implied and off-screen.
Moon Knight is considered among Marvel's most adult heroes, making the decision to keep him PG-13 a controversial one that may spell trouble for the future of R-rated projects in the MCU. As of now, Deadpool 3 has been confirmed to be maintaining its mature rating, but heroes like Daredevil are at risk of dropping to a PG-13 for his rumored MCU film or Disney+ series.
Much of the future of the darker MCU will depend on how audiences react to Moon Knight when it premieres on Disney+ on March 30, 2022.