Are Superhero Movies Automatically Okay for Kids?

My 10-year-old son, Charlie, recently attended an overnight birthday party. He and the other kids stayed up late watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I was surprised, because I'd seen all three previous X-Men films and felt none was appropriate for children.

Charlie told me the movie was "okay," though he later confessed to covering his eyes through much of it. (He also covered his eyes during The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and a trip to Medieval Times.)

I eventually saw Wolverine on my own and founded it stuffed like a loaded potato with violence, death, bloody carnage, tortuous medical experiments and horrendous acting. (Sorry, Hugh -- it’s just obvious there’s a really nice guy under those ridiculous sideburns.) In terms of violence, Wolverine makes Harry Potter look like Arthur.

But in a world where Wolverine toys, Wolverine happy meals, Wolverine video games, Wolverine Legos, and Wolverine costumes are spoon-fed even to toddlers, who would blame kids for acquiring an appetite for destruction?

It’s not just Wolverine. All superhero movies seem to come with an instant halo of approval, regardless of their actual content and themes. Consider The Dark Knight -- what’s more kid-friendly than that clown-faced Joker and his adorable penchant for sadism and homicide?

I’m sure armies of kids have already seen the R-rated  Watchmen, which is set apart from its cinematic brethren only by a couple of superhero sex scenes and a heck of a lot of boring chatter.

I'm not condemning superhero films by any means. I grew up loving them myself, especially Superman. I just don’t think PG and PG-13 movies should be given a free pass from parents simply because they’re about superheroes.

It’s not like there aren’t appropriate movies for kids to choose from -- The Incredibles is still one of the most entertaining superhero films I’ve ever seen.

How about this: Before sending your kids to see the next superhero movie, say Thor or Iron Man 2, read a review, check a parenting guide, or ask a neighbor who’s seen it... just not the one who gave his kid a BB gun for Christmas.

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