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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Avengers is a superhero adventure in which many of Marvel's major characters -- including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) -- come together to battle an otherworldly enemy in a war to the end. From the first scene on, there's virtually nonstop comic book mayhem, including advanced weapons, epic-scale battle scenes, and thousands of casualties. Some of the fights are deeply personal as relatives face off, and some people do die, including characters the audience will care about. The heroes sometimes discuss their motivations for fighting crime, and the discussions can be intense, though it also leads to a good deal of camaraderie and cooperation. Expect some swearing ("ass," "son of a bitch," etc.), plenty of snarky quips from Iron Man, an off-hand joke about adoption that could upset some families, and intense 3-D action.
What's the story?
In THE AVENGERS, when the powerful villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appears on Earth in search of the Tesseract, a mysterious artifact that holds limitless energy, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the head of the secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D., realizes it's going to take some equally powerful heroes to save the planet. So he calls in the toughest team he can find -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), expert archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and skilled assassin Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) -- known collectively as The Avengers. The fate of the planet hangs in the balance ... can Loki be stopped?
Is it any good?
Quick-witted and nuanced, this movie takes the best of the genre -- iconic heroes fighting for truth and justice -- and dishes it out in a fanboy-pleasing, edge-of-your seat way. Superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, so when you chance upon a gem like The Avengers, thank the comic book gods. There's great chemistry, especially between loose cannon Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey, perfect as usual) and skittish Bruce Banner (Ruffalo, adding great depth) and also between Stark and the starchy, unquestioning Captain America. The banter is believable, even when it's not always easy. And Hiddleston is a fearsome delight as the insecure, approval-hungry Loki.
The Avengers starts with a long-winded set-up -- unavoidable, perhaps, given the characters' many backstories but still mildly annoying -- and the Tesseract at the heart of the conflict soon takes a backseat to the heroes themselves. But no matter: Director Joss Whedon knows his way around compelling, flawed, conflicted superheroes, and he masterfully brings these characters alive in all their complex glory.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Avengers. How does the fact that much of it is larger than life affect its impact? How is it different watching invading aliens get hurt than human characters?
How does this film compare to other superhero stories? Do you prefer hero movies with just one star, or do you think this collaboration style is better?
Why is Loki so bent on dominating the world? Who is he trying to impress? Is this all just a family feud?
- In theaters: May 4, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2012
- Cast: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr.
- Director: Joss Whedon
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 143 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.