There are no question children and superheroes go together like peas and carrots also the genre has a long history of marketing to children. Since before the days of George Reeves comic book superheroes have appealed to kids in 1941 there were the Superman cartoons that appeared in animated shorts on theater screens and before that Zorro, the Phantom and the Shadow. It’s great to be able to take your child to the theaters to watch their favorite superheroes and have a good time yourself. The problem is that there is a maturity gap between the animated shows as well as other media incarnations of a child’s favorite superhero and the comics these movies are based on. In the comics Gwen Stacy gets thrown off the Brooklyn Bridge, Batman gets his back broken by a super steroidal convict and Superman is beaten to death by a hulking alien monster. But that’s not the only problem with children at the theaters watching comic book movies here some of my top concerns.
#1. Misbehavior: Across the country there are theater policies about misbehaving children and in many theaters infants under the age of two are not allowed with their parents in certain movies. In perfect world this would be enough to protect the audience viewing experience but that’s obviously not the case. In the AMC theater I watch the midnight showing of The Amazing Spiderman there was a lot children and I am almost certain that the Joker sent some of them in as little agents of chaos. There was one couple who had to be escorted out because their child cried the first fifteen minutes of the movie and some of the other children were ticking time bombs of mass annoyance. At 30 minute mark a child loss interest in the movie and started throwing food at the 3D images he saw along with five other kids and after the 45 minute mark the theater spontaneously transformed into a Disney playhouse. There was kids’ mountain climbing over seats, play fighting, trying to catch 3D images like fireflies and a lot of frustrated parents telling their kids to stop. At the end of the movie the only thing I could think about is what the age limit for a comic book movie should be.
#2. Understanding: Undoubtedly there are some smart children who could understand almost anything but let’s not pretend that their attention span is as long as an adults. Children need something to arrest their attention something bright, colorful, and visually stimulating and characters that are funny in a silly sense, intense or zany. One of the first things you notice about The Amazing Spiderman that it is not the colorful, campy films that Raimi made it’s more reality based and a bit darker than his take on the character. To expect a six year old child to remain interested and understand what is going on in a 2hr 16 min movie where the first hour is about the long backstory of Spiderman and Peter experiencing high school anxiety is cruel and unusual even me and my friends lost interest during certain parts of the movie. Comic book movies are rated PG-13 for a reason because the movies are targeted specifically for that age group and to ask a child to appreciate and fully understand something that is geared for teenagers and young adults is wrong. The reason why The Avengers is so kid friendly is because it has a light story, colorful characters and nonstop action that could capture anyone’s attention but you cannot expect that from other comic book adaption.
#3. Message: What is the message that parents send to their kids when they allow them to watch some comic book movies, that high school sucks and people get shot and die? Some of the images and messages in CBM’s are clearly unsuitable for children there is hatred, revenge, domestic violence, sexism, alcoholism, human experimentation on mutants, jealous vengeful gods who betray their families and murder of almost every kind Wolverine kills Lady Deathstrike by injecting her with Adamantium. The best elements of comics come from the very same thing that make it so unsuitable for children that is the mediums ability to be a canvass upon which every human experience and imagination can be drawn on, there is drug abuse by Harry Osborn, Tony Starks alcoholism and She-Hulks promiscuity these experiences is what makes comic books great because it adds a level humanity and frailty to the characters. Remember many CBM’s draw heavily from their comic book origins so the next time you see a PG-13 superhero flick please no children.