A big new exciting Marvel movie is about to hit theaters and everyone’s going to be talking about it in the school playground. But should they be?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange, has the same rating as Spider-Man: No Way Home. Yet arguably the flick, from notable horror director Sam Raimi, is Marvel’s version of a horror movie. From jump scares, to multiple characters meeting their end, to the unpleasant presence of skeletal souls of the damned swooping around, the flick might be more frightening to the less desensitized of us. Basically, is it suitable for eager young viewers? Let’s discuss below.
What’s Doctor Strange 2’s actual rating?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has a PG-13 rating in the US. According to the Motion Picture Association film rating system, a movie with a PG-13 rating means “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13… Parents are urged to be cautious.”
Parents are also occasionally “strongly cautioned”, according to a recent MPA bulletin, when it comes to that rating.
UK body the British Board of Film Classification rates the film a 12A for “moderate horror, violence, threat, injury detail”. The BBFC adds these details:
“Scenes of horror include demonic beings attacking people; a decomposing corpse being reanimated; people being burned by magical powers, leaving charred remains; and multiple ‘jump scares’… Sequences include superhuman beings battling with fantastical powers, as well as use of weapons and fistfights. Stronger moments include a person being impaled, magical powers devastating a man’s head, and the implication someone is cut in half.”
Where the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home also had its violent moments, Doctor Strange 2 differs in stylistic ways. Its macabre horror elements and kill count are far greater than the former, including a couple of death scenes that verge on being visceral and nasty. Let’s discuss more in the next section.
Is Doctor Strange 2 scarier than other Marvel movies?
Raimi is known for directing Sony’s original Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maguire, but he’s also a notable horror filmmaker, mainly for the Evil Dead franchise.
Raimi brings some of those horror stylings to the Doctor Strange sequel (Scott Derrickson, another horror filmmaker, handled the original.) Just read this snippet from our CNET review:
The early stretches of the film could be drawn from a 1960s comic as a monster threatens a woman pushing a pram on a colorful New York street. But as the film progresses, it ramps up the horror. The villain’s monstrous power is signaled by jump scares and sinister horror movie flourishes, building to the most macabre final battle you’re likely to see in a family-friendly blockbuster.
It’s also worth noting that familiar “good guy” characters also appear in evil form in the film, which may unnerve some children.
That said, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still a Marvel movie. It keeps to the entertaining brand of superhero fare, just with cursed books that are no more scary than a Maths test.
So, should you let your kid watch it?
The MPA’s rating system is administered by an independent division called the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), via a board comprised of an independent group of parents. If you’re happy with their rating, then children 13 and older should be OK to go ahead and watch the movie. If you’re still on the fence, you can head to @FilmRatings on Twitter for daily updates and find more information on how the film rating system works at CARA’s website.
Ultimately, it depends on your kid and what they’re used to. The action in Multiverse of Madness is definitely more intense than other Marvel films. If you’re unsure how your kid will cope in the environment of a noisy and darkened theater, bear in mind you can always watch it at home on Disney Plus with full control of the pause and volume buttons.
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