A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stan Lee's Mighty 7 is another creation by comic-book legend Stan Lee, who co-created Marvel poster kids such as The Avengers and Spider-Man. The movie's content is often violent, and enemies wage war against each other with traditional weapons as well as with their own special skills such as super strength and electric shock waves. Death is implied, and the body count is high, but there's no visible blood or gore. Even so, what's more striking about the story is the evolution of the team of seven heroes, who begin the movie as enemies but come to a greater understanding of each other by setting aside their preconceived judgments. As they change, kids can see the value of respect, kindness, and judging a person by his or her actions rather than his or her appearance. The story's clever spin on the inspiration of comic book characters, which puts an animated version of Stan Lee in the movie itself, is another fun aspect that has a lot of grown-up appeal.
What's the story?
Desperate to conjure inspiration for a new story line for Archie Comics, famed superhero creator Stan Lee (voiced by Lee himself) takes a drive through the desert to clear his head and winds up face-to-face with seven aliens who have crash-landed on Earth on their way to their home planet, where the five who are fugitives face prison time under the watchful eyes of the two marshals. With the American military in hot pursuit, Stan takes the visitors home with him, thinking the superpowered crew is the answer to his writer's block. But when they discover that a nefarious alien race in disguise threatens the survival of the humans, Stan must give the disparate seven some lessons in teamwork so they can take out their hostility on the real enemy rather than among themselves.
Is it any good?
Comic-book legend Stan Lee –- or at least an animated rendering of him –- takes on a new role on the screen in this lively story, and the effect is surprisingly entertaining. Not only does his presence factor heavily into the heroes' potential success as a team, his regular-Joe character brings an unusual perspective to the typical superhero formula. While they're waging power struggles and contemplating the fate of the world, he's making cracks about tax expenditures and heading out for business meetings. The strange pairing adds a freshness that older viewers in particular will find amusing.
But the surprises don't stop there. Set against the familiar backdrop of flashy action sequences and heroic deeds is a compelling story rich in complex characters. From the first few minutes of the movie, viewers are encouraged to make assumptions about each of the Mighty 7 based on his or her present situation, but as the story evolves, those initial judgments are called into question for good reason. Not only does this give the movie more substance and fill in the spaces between the action, it also does an excellent job of illustrating for kids an important lesson in how to treat others. What's more, although their individual powers are impressive, many don't give them a huge advantage in battle without the support of another's -- further evidence of the value of teamwork.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how these heroes stack up against more well-known ones. Are their stories as compelling as the others'? Are you impressed by their individual powers? Do these characters seem as marketable as the established heroes?
Kids: Do you find it tempting to make snap judgments about people you meet? Are visual clues such as a person's appearance reliable means of judgment? What are the dangers of making these kinds of assumptions?
What factors help create a strong team? What qualities do strong leaders share? Do you like being part of a team? How does it feel when a group's efforts are rewarded?
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