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Are Superhero Movies for Children or Adults?

Updated on March 11, 2019
North Wind profile image

Someone who would really like this question settled once and for all by those who make these movies. There are too many mixed signals.

The Age of the Superhero - Hollywood's Money Making Movies

Superhero movies ...they seem to never end. Every time I think that surely there could not be another superhero that exists, I am found to be astoundingly wrong and become shocked into silence. The superhero world, it appears, is endless. How all of these people (and non-people) survive amongst each other is beyond me. Before they mostly stuck to their own worlds, but now, because of the movies there are so many crossovers and collaborations it is positively dizzying. I can't keep track but I know if I ask any random child I come across, he or she would probably be able to tell me exactly who went where, who did what, whose powers changed, who has an evil twin or alter ego etc. What I have also learned is if I ask any grown man about the superhero universe, he'd probably be able to tell me about it too (of course in much more detail). This is because all of these movies are based on heroes whose stories were told when adults today were children. These adults are still great fans of the stories and jump at the chance at seeing their favourite characters once again on screen.

One of the latest trailers promoting another superhero movie.

The Popularity of the Movies

These movies are so popular that Hollywood keeps rolling them out one after the other. Just in 2017 I counted seven Superhero films and 2018 seems to have at least ten slated for release. All of these are considered to be (or hoped to be) blockbusters. All of these are movies that children and adults want to see.The only one I could find that was rated PG was The Lego Batman Movie. Everything else was either PG-13 and R. By the standards of the Motions Picture Association of America, most of these films contain material that may be "inappropriate" for children under 13 or material that is considered "adult".

Now, it appears, that the Motions Picture Association of America is doing its part in trying to warn parents about the content of some of these movies and that they suggest a certain age group be barred from looking at these films, however, the main characters in these movies fly. They lift cars and heavy machinery with their bare hands, they laser people with their eyes, claws shoot out from their hands and they can climb walls on all fours. Not to mention the robots that turn into cars, I mean what child wouldn't be fascinated? It's their imagination put on paper for them except ten times better!

Walmart Back-to-School commercial promoting merchandise from the popular superhero movies.

Superheroes not such super role models

So here are these superheroes, able to do everything and more a child wishes to be able to do, acting in a way that may influence the child negatively and cause a bad impression, or facing adult situations that can leave a deep impact on the mind of a child. One such example is the character of Wolverine in the 2017 movie Logan. This movie was one in a series of movies that features the popular X-Men hero, Wolverine. Other movies featuring the character were rated PG-13 and so parents took their children to see them (although deemed inappropriate) because they did not think they would feature too much shocking material. When this was released, there was no child who saw the other movies about Wolverine who did not want to see it. Some were not allowed to, but I am certain that there were others who did get to see a restricted movie and who could even possibly have been under the age of ten.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America:

"An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse and other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously."

Do you stick to the ratings as suggested by the Motion Picture Association of America?

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Mixed Signals From the Media and Superhero Franchises

I know that there are a lot of parents who find it difficult to keep their children from seeing the majority of these movies simply because although they contain material for mature audiences (as many adults love and follow these action movies) the superheroes themselves are marketed to the children. There are lunchboxes, tops, costumes, schoolbags, notebooks, all with the favourite superhero of the moment available. Even the cereal that children eat contains little toys that promote the movies. One recent commercial promoted a Spiderman water toy. After a five year old child gets that then of course he is going to want to see the Spiderman movie. Why deliberately do this when you know you are producing a film that is not suitable for the impressionable mind of a child? Money, of course.

Poster of the film "Logan" which is considered to be the most violent superhero movie ever made. One of the main stars is a little girl.

As expressed by the Motion Picture Association of America

"Movies can open our children’s eyes to new places, cultures and ideas, and parents have an important role in ensuring that experience is positive and enriching. They need the tools to decide what movies are suitable for their children to watch."

The quote above, I think, could not have said it better. Children are impressionable and many of these films are filled with violence prompted by slight provocation and profanity. In my opinion, children learn a lot based on what they see and hear and they mimic behavior quite well and quite often. If someone who is marketed as being good in a (pardon my pun) super sense and displays these negative qualities then what are children supposed to think? As it stands, I would firmly say that superhero movies are made for an adult audience but target both children and adults. I don't believe this is acceptable.

I would prefer that the movies be made to be suitable for all the children they sell their merchandise to. I have seen many older movies that were masterpieces that both children and adults enjoyed. Why can't they be made now? What do you think?

© 2017 North Wind


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