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Welcome to the five hundred and eleventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). For the first three weeks of February, in the lead-up to this week’s Oscars, I’ll feature at least one comic legend involving an Oscar-nominated film (as per the request of long-time reader Arthur K.). This week, was the Avengers originally rated R by the MPAA? Did an Avengers crossover involving Kang get squelched due to a scheduling issue? And what unique way did Neil Gaiman write around Bill Sienkiewicz’s pages in The Sandman: Endless Nights?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: An edited scene in The Avengers on Blu-Ray contained a hint as to how Agent Coulson would return from the dead.
COMIC LEGEND: The Avengers was originally rated R by the MPAA.
One “problem” (quotes because it really isn’t that big of a deal) with writing this column is on occasion legends resolve themselves before I ever get a chance to prove or debunk them myself. In this particular instance, a false legend tied together with an interesting true story about Marvel’s blockbuster 2012 film, The Avengers (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects).
The legend sprung out of an edited scene in the British Blu-Ray edition of the film. In the original film, this is how Agent Coulson is seemingly killed by Loki…
In the British release, this is how he is seemingly killed…
This led to a lot of speculation that Marvel was planning to subtly pull back from the nature of his death to better off sell Coulson somehow surviving. You know, a basic “If the blade is sticking out of the other side of his chest, he’s probably not coming back from it, but if it isn’t, then who is to say how severe the injury was?”
Obviously, eventually Agents of SHIELD gave an explanation for his return that was unrelated to anything involving the film, so it was clear that the change had nothing to do with it. But people didn’t know that back in 2012!
So at the time, the explanation was that it was just a matter of the film needing to be approved for release in Britain, with a Disney UK representative saying:
“There’s been no censorship, no foul play. The version of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble [the U.K. title for The Avengers] on Blu-ray disc in the U.K. is the same as the version shown theatrically. It really is. The simple fact is for a 12 certificate film in the U.K., that scene was deemed inappropriate. So Marvel Studios chose to remove the spear tip digitally.”
This, though, started even MORE conspiracy theories, since the film had been released in the UK with the stabbing scene! So why the change now?
So this was explained by Disney UK:
“Thanks to those of you who have let us know about an issue on the Marvel Avengers Assemble UK Blu-Ray and DVD release, which has a less graphic depiction of Agent Coulson’s confrontation with Loki. Each country has its own compliance issues relative to depictions of violence. Unfortunately, another region’s elements were inadvertently used to create the UK in-home release which minimally altered this scene in the film. We thank our fans for their vigilance in recognising this and apologise for the mix up.”
And that turned out to be the truth, as Germany did, indeed, censor the scene and it was on Germany’s Blu-Rays that the scene was edited out on. Disney UK just accidentally got that version, as well. Since, as I mentioned before, the actual return of Coulson had nothing to do with the edited scene, I believe them.
This all ties in with a true story, though, about how The Avengers was initially given an R from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)’s rating board. Not only once, but TWICE!
Marvel’s Kevin Feige explained that it was, in fact, that very same Coulson scene that other countries censored even further that led to the problem. He joked to Movies.com’s Erik Davis, “Well, whenever you impale somebody from their back and the blade comes out their chest, there are issues.”
Here’s the scene. You will just have to imagine how much more graphic it originally was!
Thanks to Erik Davis and Kevin Feige for the information, as well as Disney UK!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: What is the secret origin of “Bazinga!” from The Big Bang Theory?
On the next page, how did a scheduling problem rob us of an Avengers crossover?
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