Disney Just Made a Big Change to the Star Wars and Marvel Movies

By  · Published on March 13th, 2015


A lot of fans want Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but would he even want to come over to a franchise that won’t let him smoke his cigars?

According to Disney head Bob Iger, via The Wrap, the studio has extended its on-screen smoking ban to any of its movies with an MPAA rating of PG-13 or below. That includes all of its MCU installments and the upcoming Star Wars releases, as well as Pixar titles. There is reportedly an exception for “when we are depicting a historical figure who may have smoked at the time,” which is interesting considering the portrayal of Walt Disney himself in Saving Mr. Banks mostly ignores the studio’s founder’s habit.

Also, that exception probably doesn’t apply to fictional Marvel characters who live in the past, like anyone in a World War II-set superhero movie. Not that anyone took even puff in Captain America: The First Avenger, as far as I can recall. In fact, there’s not a lot that will be different going forward compared to what we’ve seen in the past. It’s more of a big change to what could be allowed rather than what’s been practiced. Here is what Disney’s policy had been since it’s stance against (but not total ban on) smoking in movies began in 2007:

Disney discourages depictions of cigarette smoking in movies produced in the United States for which a Disney entity is the sole or lead producer and which are released either as a Touchstone movie or Marvel movie, and seeks to limit cigarette smoking in those movies that are not rated “R” to:

– scenes in which smoking is part of the historical, biographical or cultural context of the scene or is important to the character or scene from a factual or creative standpoint, or

– scenes in which cigarette smoking is portrayed in an unfavorable light or the negative consequences of smoking are emphasized

The new policy would seem to eliminate those two exceptions listed above. So, here are some characters in the Marvel and Star Wars universes now ordered to report for smoking cessation training before their next movie appearances (regardless of whether or not they’ve been depicted with the habit on screen thus far):


Howard the Duck
J. Jonah Jameson
Dum Dum Dugan
Nick Fury

Star Wars:

Jabba the Hutt
Dannik Jerriko (aka “Pipe Smoking Alien”)
Peace Pipe Smoking Ewok
Anyone partaking in so-called “death sticks” referenced in Attack of the Clones

Of course, Star Wars has long been anti-smoking in spite of those listed characters. Here’s a classic anti-smoking PSA from 1983 starring C-3PO and R2-D2:

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.