Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/ 2011 MVLFFLLC/TM & 2011 Marvel
Got a superhero-obsessed kid? If you're thinking about taking your Captain America-worshipper to see the film this weekend, keep in mind that the movie, while great, isn't appropriate for kids under age 10. Here's what you need to know from Common Sense Media.
Rating: Ages 13 and up: ON -- Content is age-appropriate for kids this age. (Ages 11 to 12: PAUSE -- Know your child. Some content may not be right for some kids. Age 10 and under: OFF -- Not age-appropriate for kids this age.)
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Avengers is a highly anticipated superhero adventure in which many of Marvel's major superheroes -- including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) -- come together to battle an otherworldly enemy in a war to the end. From the first scene on, there's virtually nonstop comic book mayhem, including advanced weapons, epic-scale battle scenes, and thousands of casualties. Some of the fights are deeply personal as relatives face off, and some people do die, including characters the audience will care about. The heroes sometimes discuss their motivations for fighting crime, and the discussions can be intense, though it also leads to a good deal of camaraderie and cooperation. Expect some swearing ("ass," "son of a bitch," etc.), plenty of snarky quips from Iron Man, an off-hand joke about adoption that could upset some families, and intense 3-D action.
What's the story?
When the powerful villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appears on Earth in search of the Tesseract, a mysterious artifact that holds limitless energy, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the head of the secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D., realizes it's going to take some equally powerful heroes to save the planet. So he calls in the toughest team he can find -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), expert archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and skilled assassin Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) -- known collectively as THE AVENGERS. The fate of the planet hangs in the balance ... can Loki be stopped?
Is it any good?
Superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days. So when you chance upon a gem like The Avengers, thank the comic book gods. Quick-witted and nuanced, the film takes the best of the genre -- iconic heroes flexing their recognizable muscles fighting for truth and justice -- and dishes it out in a fanboy-pleasing, edge-of-your seat way. There's great chemistry, especially between loose cannon Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey, perfect as usual) and skittish Bruce Banner (Ruffalo, adding great depth) and also between Stark and the starchy, unquestioning Captain America. The banter is believable, even when it's not always easy. And Hiddleston is a fearsome delight as the insecure, approval-hungry Loki.
The Avengers starts with a long-winded set-up -- unavoidable, perhaps, given the characters' many backstories but still mildly annoying -- and the Tesseract at the heart of the conflict soon takes a backseat to the heroes themselves. But no matter: Director Joss Whedon knows his way around compelling, flawed, conflicted superheroes, and he masterfully brings these characters alive in all their complex glory.
What families can talk about
Families can talk about The Avengers' violence. How does the fact that much of it is larger than life affect its impact? How is it different watching invading aliens get hurt than human characters?
How does this film compare to other superhero stories? Do you prefer hero movies with just one star, or do you think this collaboration style is better?
Are the Avengers role models? Are some of them "worthier" than others? Why or why not?
Why is Loki so bent on dominating the world? Who is he trying to impress? Is this all just a family feud?