On Friday we had a movie night with friends, i.e., we invite friends over as an excuse to try and catch up on MCU films, since we never go to the cineplex anymore. We watched Thor: Ragnarok, which was great. Best Thor movie by a mile.

My son watched it, too, which is always kinda tricky because the MCU films are generally pretty damn violent, but honestly unless one of us sequesters ourselves with him there’s no way to keep him from being in the room while we watch.

This was the first one he’s made it all the way through, and enthusiastically so. He begged us to let him stay up and finish the film.

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The film is crazy violent, though it’s all fantasy skirmishing for the most part, which doesn’t bug me for some reason. However, I felt really guilty about the end scene where Scourge is blasting away with his M-16s. That’s just a little too real, and I can only hope that it flew past Henry.

Otherwise, Henry thought the film was a hoot, and he loves “the big green guy”. It took a little verbal gymnastics to explain why Hulk is both mean AND still one of the good guys, though.

The next day I asked Henry what he liked best, and his answer was Surtur. “I liked when the big fire guy smashed the whole city!” I was worried Surtur would freak him out, but the kid is full of surprises, as usual.

I still feel bad that he is around when we watch these films, but I rationalize that we only do this maybe once every six months. I’m deluding myself, I know, but welcome to parenting in the 21st century.

34 thoughts on “On Friday we had a movie night with friends, i.e., we invite friends over as an excuse to try and catch up on MCU…

  1. I think regular exposure is more a problem than an occasional one. The problem is the occasional one might drive a kid to want more. But it sounds like you did the right thing. You brought your kid into the social situation and not to do so would’ve been mean.

  2. Sounds like kiddo had a blast! Yeah, it can be tricky to navigate those waters. The Hulk is definitely in is-he-bad-or-isn’t-he territory for younger kids. Mine is still too young to see this one (4.5) but she did make it through all three original Star Wars films. So maybe sooner than I think! How old is your son?

  3. I have such mixed feelings about fantasy violence. Bloodless is better for my kid, IMO, like when the bad guys get knocked through walls or out of the scene. We just watched Jumanji and there’s a lot of that.

    Realistic violence I’m pretty resolved to not expose my kid to (and she doesn’t really like it either), but when you get into like Starwarzy violence that’s such a gray area. Except for R1 though, mostly faceless mooks get smoked. And visibly twisted and warped monsters, like Snoke.

  4. Jumanji and there’s a lot of that. Realistic violence I’m pretty resolved to not expose my kid to (and she doesn’t really like it either), but when you get into like Starwarzy violence that’s such a gray area. Except for R1 though, mostly faceless mooks get smoked. And visibly twisted and warped monsters, like Snoke.]]>

  5. In 2001, Garrett was 7 and The Fellowship of the Ring movie came out. We talked over whether he should see it and ended up taking him to the theater with us. We watched through the movie — and the credits were rolling and the lights were coming on when the lady who sat next to me, who was maybe the age we are now (a bit shy of 50), leans over and asks Garrett if he liked it. Garrett’s all wide-eyed, sort of stunned by having just seen this movie, and he nods his head and issues this breathless “yeah”. And the lady, getting all busy-body, asks him “You didn’t think it was too violent?” G turned his angelic face up to her and in complete earnestness, says “It wasn’t violent enough!” Watching the lady jerk backward from him, like she’d been stung, was one of the highlights of my parenting life.

  6. The Fellowship of the Ring movie came out. We talked over whether he should see it and ended up taking him to the theater with us. We watched through the movie — and the credits were rolling and the lights were coming on when the lady who sat next to me, who was maybe the age we are now (a bit shy of 50), leans over and asks Garrett if he liked it. Garrett’s all wide-eyed, sort of stunned by having just seen this movie, and he nods his head and issues this breathless “yeah”. And the lady, getting all busy-body, asks him “You didn’t think it was too violent?” G turned his angelic face up to her and in complete earnestness, says “It wasn’t violent enough!” Watching the lady jerk backward from him, like she’d been stung, was one of the highlights of my parenting life.]]>

  7. Weirdly, i feel like fantasy violence messed me up more as a kid, in the sense that it gave me a love of violence without any sense of the actual cost or trauma associated.

    Although i guess i turned out ok eventually, since i now have a very strong negative reaction to real violence but still love fantasy violence. But there was a stretch in my life where i fetishized violence for its own sake.

  8. The last MCU film he watched with us was GotG, vol. 2, and he was fine until the battle between Gamora and Nebula. I think there was so much shouting, grimacing, and loud weapons fire that he just couldn’t take it. And I’m fine with that. It’s a great scene, but it’s motherfucking violent as hell.

  9. I wonder if for him, like for me, the issue is less the physical violence and more the emotional intensity. One of the reasons i enjoyed fantasy violence as a kid was that it was so often without real stakes, divorced from emotional context.

    Otoh, i also grew up with the mistaken impression that strong emotions make one “more powerful”, which is another life lesson that caused more problems than it solved.

    Man, popular media does nobody any favors.

  10. Dave Michalak I think fetishizing violence is part-and-parcel of being a boy in Amurricuh. The indoctrination is everywhere. I want to believe it’s better now, as media is not nearly as homogenized.

    My rationalization thinking on fantasy violence is that it doesn’t really look much like anything you would see in the real world, so I question the (direct) impact it may have. But show someone going to town with an M-16 is, like… dude, my neighbor has a fucking M-16.

    (I am not aware of any of my neighbors actually owning an M-16.)

  11. rationalization thinking on fantasy violence is that it doesn’t really look much like anything you would see in the real world, so I question the (direct) impact it may have. But show someone going to town with an M-16 is, like… dude, my neighbor has a fucking M-16. (I am not aware of any of my neighbors actually owning an M-16.)]]>

  12. So far we’ve been lucky with PG-rated fare. But that’s also a wide category. Star Wars is fine (the PG ones) but I’m certain Raiders of the Lost Ark would be too “real” for our kiddo right now, so it’ll have to wait for now.

    The MCU us pretty much all PG-13, so we’re holding for now. But I did let her watch the first Thor which is perhaps the least scary/dark of the Marvel flicks.

    I think she’d LOVE Captain America, but the Red Skull is a bit too gruesome for a not-yet-5 y.o.

  13. Bit of a tangent, i just started watching Steven Universe, and wow, this show. All the cool fantasy superhero magical battles and monsters a kid could want, rolled up with genuine emotions expressed openly but with realistic complexity; themes of friendship, family, love, acceptance, individuality and conformity, teamwork, kindness; but also silly, with fun songs and cool action. It’s really a treat, suitable for any age (probably, I’m not a parent).

  14. Dave Michalak The Rambo and G.I. Joe cartoons of our youth are some of the most offensive things ever, IMO. They blow up a tank with a bazooka and then three mooks crawl out of the wreckage and run away. Yeah, right.

  15. We’ve always taken the approach of talking to our kids about the difference between the stuff they watch and reality. Translated properly for their age. And both seem to handle it well. Heck, I have a 17 year old now and had to have a chat about what he might be watching. I don’t want to police him or block him from exploring as I believe parents that step in too much can mess up a child as much as anything else. So the discussion went similar to others before, that I don’t know what he’s seeking out or finding, but to remember that what he’s finding is likely not real sexuality. It is as much a fantasy as anything else he watches.

  16. But on violence, I would say that faceless mooks being gunned down en masse is worse than the death of people one looks in the eye, so to speak. It sanitises violence and war. It’s a short step from faceless mooks to faceless gooks.