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The Batman: What Made It The Most Complained About 2022 Film In The UK

The rich themes present in "The Batman" regarding social inequality, police brutality, and the dangers of unchecked mental health resonated with many audiences. However, for some officials in the United Kingdom, the dismal tone and setting was not as admired. 

According to Digital Spy, an annual report from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) revealed that "The Batman" was the year's most complained about film. Twenty-two complaints rolled in criticizing the board's choice to give the film a 15 rating, which under their guidelines states, "Titles rated bbfc-15 are suitable only for 15 years and over. No-one younger than 15 may see a '15' film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a '15' rated video or DVD" (per IGN). "The Batman" received this rating due to "strong threat and violence." 

Younger British fans complained as this excluded them from seeing the highly-anticipated superhero release in theaters. However, given the film's edgier content compared to previous big-screen Batman efforts, the BBFC, along with their Youth Panel and the Advisory Panel on Children's Viewing, stood strong on the more mature rating. It's worth noting that Marvel's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" and Illumination's "Minions: The Rise of Gru," also received complaints regarding their minor or more fantastical violent elements.

It's safe to say that if viewers were offended by "Minions," "The Batman" would not have fared much better in the public's eye. It's also likely that the BBFC were looking to avoid the backlash received from the rating they gave another well-known Batman movie. 

The Dark Knight was criticized in the United Kingdom for letting younger viewers see it

"The Batman" wasn't the first time that the British Board of Film Classification came under controversy for a film featuring the Caped Crusader, as 2008's "The Dark Knight" saw outcries from the public for the very opposite reason. 

When the second installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy was released in theaters, the BBFC gave the film a 12a rating, deeming the picture suitable for viewers 12 and older, while younger children would require adult accompaniment. Several critics at the time raised concerns regarding the classification, with some believing that the frightening tone and the Joker's (Heath Ledger) use of knives was unsuitable for young audiences, especially given the country's high knife crime rate.

Despite enjoying the film, Parliament member Iain Duncan Smith was appalled by the rating. In particular, he believed that the terrifyingly real performance of Heath Ledger's Joker and the overall heavy thematic nature warranted a 15 rating. Another British MP, Keith Vaz, stated during a BBC program, "There's a line between good entertainment and something which influences young minds ... We need to be very vigilant in terms of what we do about these issues." 

This did little to make the board budge. The BBFC claimed that, given that the film's violence mostly occurred off-screen and was under the comic book movie subgenre, their rating for "The Dark Knight" was the right one.