Australian Council on Children and the Media

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance strongly recommended 13-15 ( Intense violence; disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • a review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 March 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to intense violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance strongly recommended due to intense violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Intense sequences of violence and mature themes
Length 151 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film is set 18 months after the events depicted in the film Man of Steel. As a result of the titanic battle between Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon), in which the city of Metropolis is all but destroyed, Superman is being held accountable for both the casualties and the destruction caused and is now seen by some, including Gotham’s Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck), as vigilante who is a threat to the entire world.  Superman has a similar opinion of Batman and is determined to publically expose him.

The rivalry between Batman and Superman is fuelled by criminal mastermind Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who wants both men out of the picture. Luthor convinces a US Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter) to import Krytonite recently found at the bottom of the Indian Ocean with the intent of using it as a possible weapon against Superman. Senator Finch also gives Lex access to General Zod’s body and the crashed Kryptonian space ship which Lex intends to use for evil purposes.

While Batman and Superman are bent on destroying each other, both are also determined to defeat Lex. Simultaneously, the mysterious Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is also investigating Lex. When Lex unleashes a monstrous genetically-engineered creature with superpowers, Batman and Superman must put aside their differences and work together if they are to have any chance of saving Metropolis.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Aliens; superheroes; genetic engineering

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of action violence and peril throughout. There is mass destruction of property, fiery car chases, the execution style killings, mass deaths, the threat of violence against loved ones, and some depiction of blood and gore. Examples include:

  • In flashback scenes a young boy witnesses the shooting of his parents. We see images of the father and mother lying on the ground dying and we hear the young boy screaming.
  • An alien space ship attacks a city causing mass destruction. The spacecraft fires missiles into buildings which explode and collapse to the ground with people screaming and running for their live. Gigantic fireballs rain down on the city and a man stands in a skyscraper praying asking for god to have mercy on his soul before a laser beam cuts causes the entire building to explode. Following the mass destruction of a city we see a man lying on the ground pinned beneath a large steel girder and in a later scene we see the man in a wheel chair with his legs amputated above the knees.
  • In one scene depicting mass murder,  a woman stands with a hood over her head and a man kneels on the ground. Gunmen standing around pointing their guns at the man and the woman. The kneeling man is shot dead but then several of the gunmen turn their machineguns on the others and shoot them.
  • We hear a man screaming and then see a bare-chested man tied to a heater.  He has bloody cuts on his face and chest, and the shape of a bat is burned into his chest.   
  • Two men engage in a bare-knuckle boxing match surrounded by a crowd of watching men. The two men brutally punch each other in the face and head until one of them falls to the ground unconscious.
  • A bomb detonates in a court building, completely destroying the building with the inference that all the people inside are killed. Superman stands in the building as it explodes, engulfed in flames but uninjured.
  • A man pushes a woman off a tall building and she plummets towards the ground before being rescued by Superman who snatches her out of the air.
  • A woman is chased and forced into a car. Later we see a video of the woman tied and gagged with the word ‘witch’ written on her forehead. 
  • One scene depicts a brutal fight between Batman and Superman in which they repeatedly punch each other in the face and head. They throw each other hundreds of feet through the concrete walls and buildings. Batman picks up a large sink and smashes Superman over the head, then throws him down a hole in the floor. Batman also wraps a cable around Superman’s leg and swings him around, crashing him into stone pillars. As Superman lies on the ground Batman put his boot to Superman’s throat and cuts his cheek.
  • A villain stabs Batman and we see a bloody gash in his chest armour. Batman pulls the knife from his shoulder and uses it to stab his attacker in the chest, pinning him to a wall.
  • There is a major battle between Superman and a super-powered monster which involves giant boulders, cannon fire and missiles. Finally, Superman stabs the creature with a large green glowing spear and it falls down dead.  However, before the creature dies bony structures grow out of it and stab Superman through his chest. Superman lies on the ground motionless with his eyes staring blankly.  
  • A man slices off the tips of an alien’s fingers to remove the fingerprints. Later we see the same man lowering the alien’s body into a pool and using a knife to cut his palm and drip blood over the dead alien’s face.
  • We see a brief image of the head and torso of a man strapped to a frame with tubes attached. A mechanical device move towards the man and we hear the man scream.     

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Most of this film is likely to be very frightening for children in this age group. As well as the violence described above, there are demonic creatures, scary dream scenes and transformations. Examples include:

  • A man visits his dead parents’ tomb and while there hallucinates, seeing blood oozing from the tombstone. The man uses his finger to wipe up some of the blood at which point the head of a demon-like creature with  sharp teeth breaks through the tombstone and lunges at the man, causing the man to wake from his hallucination.
  • In an alien spacecraft, tentacles feed a large cocoon suspended in a pool which has a number of strange creatures swimming in it. A giant troll-like creature with sharp teeth tears its way out of the cocoon.
  • Batman has a nightmare where he is trapped in a terrifying, post-apocalyptic world. Here he is captured by Superman, and attacked by hundreds of gruesome-looking winged creatures. He also has other nightmares which involve scary monsters.
  • Superman is suspended in space after a nuclear explosion - he appears unconscious and his face looks withered and mummified. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by scenes in this film

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

Brand-named vehicles

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A woman goes into a men’s toilet to talk to a man and he says, “With balls like yours you belong in here”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Throughout the film women wear tight-fitting and revealing clothing.
  • The naked body of an alien is seen.
  • We see a naked woman lies in a bath full of water; we see her bare shoulder upper chest, the tops of her breasts and knees. A man enters the room and climbs fully clothed into the bath and the couple kiss passionately.     

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Scenes of social drinking by adults.
  • Bruce drinks a lot of wine

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and insults in this movie, including:

  • Jesus Christ; goddamn; O god; son of a bitch ; shit
  • freak; clowns; witches; crazy

In a nutshell

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a superhero action adventure that targets older adolescents and fans of DC comic books.  It is likely to entertain this group of viewers, who are also likely to be pleased with the promise of more to come.

Parents should be aware that the film is very dark and full of intense violence, mass destruction and scary characters that will disturb younger viewers. At 151 minutes it is also very long. It is definitely not recommended for children under 13 and parental guidance is strongly recommended for the 13 to 15 age group.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Cooperation and working together can overcome insurmountable obstacles.
  • Knowledge is power.
  • People can be manipulated to distrust and fight each other.

Parents may wish to discuss the two superheroes as role models and what the film reveals about them.

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