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Are Superhero Movies for Children or Adults?

Updated on July 30, 2018
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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    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      3 months ago from The World (for now)

      Interesting, Tolovaj. I never thought of that connection. The genuine fairy tales are quite violent and yet they tended to have a lesson in them. The true fairy tales warned children of dangers too but also let them know about that evil does exist int he world. This really has set me thinking.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 

      6 months ago

      I believe superheroes are only a modern take on classic fairy tales which are often (I am not talking about diluted versions) extremely violent and their heroes have superpowers too. So - they are both made for grown ups, yet aiming at children on a certain level as well.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      12 months ago from The World (for now)

      @ Dianna Mendez -Unfortunately, I find the superhero movies quite exasperating now and most times I groan when I see another advert about an upcoming movie but I understand the appeal all the same.

      I agree that they are made for fourteen and above I just think that if they make toys for the little ones then the shows should be for the little ones. It is a contradicition that is purposefully done to get the ultimate amount of revenue from the franchise.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      13 months ago

      I do enjoy the superhero movies. In my opinion, they are made for older teens (14) and adults. They should make them appropriate for all audiences! I believe the real issue on toys is how much revenue they want to pull from filming.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      13 months ago from The World (for now)

      @Eric Dierker -That is my point exactly - children are very inquisitive especially around that age. I think as adults we owe it to them to try to be careful concerning what we expose them too. The Roadrunner seems so tame compared to the shows that are made for children these days!

      As for your wish, I think that would be quite refreshing as well. I personally stick to the old movies. I recently saw The Picture of Dorian Gray and was at the edge of my seat. I shudder to think what a remake would do to it.

      @Neal Sastry - I think there is something in there that both audiences can appreciate but do you really think that it is alright to expose children to profanity and adult situations in entertainment? I think that it is one thing for a child to experience it in reality but why subject an impressionable mind to it as a form of entertainment?

    • profile image

      Raelonus 

      13 months ago

      Superhero movies are for both audiences. Especially these days

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well done. We are in the mix with an inquisitive 7 year old. My dad loved the Roadrunner but mom thought it too violent. So we could only watch if dad was there. I wish there were more serious adult movies with out the F bomb every couple of minutes.

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