the avengers: a review for parents

If you have a child who is a fan of superheroes, you’ve probably been hearing all about the new Marvel: Avengers movie coming out. And with good reason: Avengers features an all-star cast of superheroes.  It’s the first time that Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, and Thor have all teamed up for a feature film.  Jafta has been talking about it nonstop, and so when I was given a chance to see an early screening of the film a few weeks ago, I decided to take him along.

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Aside from Star Wars, this was the first time I’ve taken Jafta to a movie that was not made specifically for children. I was a bit ambivalent about it. On the one had, I’ve always wanted to shy away from movies with violent themes. On the other hand, his thrill at seeing this movie was just SO GREAT that it was hard not to be swept up in his excitement. Like many parenting decisions I made before actually having kids, I set aside my reservations about movies with weapons for the sake of letting Jafta get out geek-out over his favorite superheroes.  I’m still on the fence about that decision, but he is 100% sure I chose wisely.

THOR (Chris Hemsworth) (L) and CAPTAIN AMERICA (Chris Evans) (R)

Jafta loved the movie, and I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it as well, given that this isn’t a genre I typically like. The movie was written and directed by Joss Whedon, the brilliant mind behind Buffy and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, so it’s not surprising that the film was funny and engaging.  The ensemble cast was incredible: Robert Downey Jr. was perfect as the narcissistic playboy Tony Stark and Chris Evan’s portrayal of the grieving Captain American was poignant.  Ladies, Chris Hemsworth’s turn as Thor is every bit as eye-pleasing as Brad Pitt circa Legends of the Fall.  Collectively, the team of actors had a great rapport with one others, perfectly portraying the tension and budding loyalty between a band of unlikely superheroes.  It was heavy on the action, but there was still enough human drama and character conflict for it to maintain my interest.  Jafta loved every second of it, and declared it to be the best movie he’s ever seen. If your child is a fan of action figures and you are wondering if they will enjoy the film, both Jafta and I give it a hearty thumbs up.  But before you buy your ticket, you may need to contemplate your child’s age and whether or not they are old enough for some of the film’s themes.  I’m going to try to do my best to break down the areas of concerns that parents might have without giving away any spoilers.

Violence – There was quite a bit of violence throughout the movie, including several deaths.  Weapons, including guns, a hammer, and a bow and arrow, were featured in many  scenes. Innocent people were killed, including one prominent character.  At the climax of the movie there is a war scene, with continuous shooting and a number of aliens being killed.  The movie was never gory, but it was quite violent.

thor captain america chris evans chris hemsworth avengers

Action – The action in this movie was intense. There were multiple explosions and car crashes . . . aspects of the film that simultaneously concerned me and delighted my son. The aliens were rather scary-looking, and would likely frighten small children.  Jafta had a hard time going to sleep the night he saw the movie, out of fear of the alien creatures.  The scariest scenes for me involved The Hulk, who was undiscerning in his violence towards even good people once he got angry.

the hulk the avengers mark ruffalo

Language – There was some mild profanity in the movie Avengers.  The curse words "son of a bitch" and "bastard" were used.

Sexuality – There was nothing of concern to me in terms of sexual themes. A couple female characters are dressed in skin-tight costumes, and it’s clear that Black Widow is seductive with the bad guys.  There is a rather benign kissing scene between two characters.  I was pleased that a there was a female superhero in a leading role.

The AVENGERS

Moral themes – The overall movie theme was a battle between good and evil.  The villain was self-seeking and lacking in empathy, so he exemplified the perfect bad guy.  However, all of the good guys were fighting their own demons, including self-control. In the end, it is the mastery over selfishness and self-control that allows each superhero to prevail.

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Another aspect of the movie that gave me a major pause, as an adoptive parent, was a throw-away joke about adoption.  The main villain was Thor’s non-biological brother.  During a meeting in which the villain’s evil deeds are listed, Thor exclaims “He’s adopted!”  This got some big laughs in the theater we were in, and I hated that my adopted son’s family status was the brunt of a joke.  I truly wish that people would consider how denigrating this joke is to adopted children, and I was disappointed it was used in the movie.

All told, the movie definitely has some aspects that might give pause to parents.  I don’t regret having taken Jafta, but at age 7 I would consider him to be at the very low end in terms of the age I would consider appropriate for this movie.  I think parents of kids between 7 and 11 should exercise caution and consider the maturity level of their child before seeing this movie.  I would recommend it for the average 12-year-old and above . . . and dare I say this about a movie based on a comic book?  I think it might be a fun date night movie as well.


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