A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons is a 2020 animated movie in which Deathstroke must save his family from villains as he tries to atone for past mistakes. Even by the standards of contemporary noir superhero fare, this is extremely violent. Characters are sliced up by swords into bloody pieces; other images include a sword through the throat (bloody) and a severed head. A boy has his throat cut by a bad guy, leaving him mute. Sharks attack and eat bleeding swimmers in scuba gear. A character is hit and killed by a car. A plane crashes into the Golden Gate Bridge. A grenade is shoved into the mouth of a character before it explodes. There's talk of suicide, and a sex scene with brief nudity (male buttocks). While Slade/Deathstroke cares deeply for his wife and child, he also cheated on his wife, resulting in the birth of a child who would grow to despise him. There's some profanity, including "f--k you" used in a climactic scene. Other language includes "bulls--t," "s--t," "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "damn," and "hell."
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What's the story?
In DEATHSTROKE: KNIGHTS & DRAGONS, Slade Wilson (MIchael Chiklis) lives a double life. At home, he's a loving father to his son, Joseph, and a devoted husband to his wife, Addie (Sasha Alexander). At work, he's the superhuman mercenary Deathstroke. While on a mission in Cambodia, Slade has an affair with a woman named Lilian and, unbeknownst to him, has left her pregnant with their child. After returning from another mission, Slade comes home to find that Joseph has been kidnapped by Jackal, the leader of the supervillain organization H.I.V.E., and that Addie now knows of his secret superhero double life. Slade rescues Joseph from Jackal, but not before one of Jackal's villains cuts Joseph's throat, leaving him unable to speak. Addie leaves Slade and sends Joseph to a remote private school in Europe, where she hopes Slade will never find him. Ten years later, Deathstroke must rescue Joseph once again, as he's taken hostage by the H.I.V.E. Queen, who wants to use Joseph's psychic superpowers, transform him into a villain named Jericho, and unleash a wave of terrorist attacks leading to world conquest. As Deathstroke tries to stop this and rescue his son, he must find a way to atone for the mistakes of his past that led to the Queen and Jericho's desire for revenge.
Is it any good?
This is an engaging story that explores themes of atonement and redemption. Unfortunately, these deeper themes in Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons are likely to be drowned out by all the violence. Even by the standards of contemporary noir DC Comics animated features, there is an above-average level of bloody, gory violence. The violence definitely verges into gratuitous territory (especially the shark attacks) at the expense of the story.
Some of these themes are shopworn in the superhero realm -- double lives, conflicted lead characters, the gray areas between good and evil, etc. -- but the movie does manage some fresh takes, even as the story leaves viewers feeling as if they've seen it before, just presented in a different superhero costume. In spite of this, it's a solid and mostly straightforward tale. It's an accessible movie for those who aren't obsessive about the superhero universes of today, even if the violence (and sex scene) can be a bit much.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violent animated movies. How is violence used in different ways in animated features? Do you think the violence in Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons is necessary? Why or why not?
How does this compare to other movies about superheroes?
How is Deathstroke an example of an "antihero"? Who are some other examples of antiheroes in the Marvel or DC universe? What do you think is the appeal of this type of character for audiences?
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