When superheroes were first created, they were intended primarily for children. Comic books were cheap entertainment for kids; as were the Saturday morning serials where comics characters were first adapted for the big screen. For decades, that was the status quo.

Eventually, though, comics creators began pushing the boundaries of what superheroes could do and say, and before long their movies began to follow suit as well. Today there are comics for every age group and demographic, with movies to match. And with so many superhero movies being made every single year, one way to stand out from the competition is to present more and more extreme violence and bloodshed. Most of these films involve characters from outside the main Marvel and DC universes, but even they are getting into the act too with films like the R-rated Injustice movie, based on the exceedingly violent series of video games.

Below we’ve chosen the 12 gnarliest American superhero movies to date. If you still believe that comics are just for kids, any of these titles will disabuse you of that notion immediately. The list also doubles as a handy guide to the movies not to show your children if they suddenly take an interest in Spidey and His Amazing Friends on Disney+.

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