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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors is the origin story of a new team of superheroes that includes Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Inferno, Quake, Patriot, and Miss America. Action and violent exchanges with villains drive the story, so hand-to-hand fighting, weapons (laser blasters, staffs, etc.), explosions, crashes, and falls are the norm. The heroes never seem worse for wear, but some scenes show people fleeing the melee in fear for their lives. A major character is said to have been raised by a same-sex couple, who are shown in flashbacks. There's no cursing, but name-calling like "weirdo," "freak," and "idiots" is common. That said, the characters' emotional evolution from insecure and standoffish teens to powerful gears in the Secret Warriors machine involves strong themes about self-identity, confidence, cooperation, and embracing one's own uniqueness. Another plus? This Marvel installation makes heroes of several female characters (yay!) who don't fit the archetypal physical template of traditional heroines and bring body type diversity to the mix (double yay!).
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What's the story?
In MARVEL RISING: SECRET WARRIORS, a new generation of teen superheroes comes into their powers and joins forces to battle a threat to the planet. When a chance encounter between Kamala Khan (voiced by Kathleen Khavari) and Dante Pertuz (Tyler Posey) introduces each to the other as fellow inhumans, Kamala (aka Ms. Marvel) tries to convince him that his powers aren't a curse. Dante (Inferno) isn't so sure, especially when it's revealed that a band of evil militants led by Hala (Ming-Na Wen) and her henchman, Victor Kohl/Exile (BooBoo Stewart), aims to recruit them to exploit those powers. As she and Dante evade their would-be captors with the help of Kamala's best friend, Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl (Milana Vayntrub), they meet others sympathetic to their cause: S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Daisy Johnson/Quake (Chloe Bennet), Rayshaun Lucas/Patriot (Kamil McFadden), and America Chavez (Cierra Ramierz). It will take more than their combined powers for this group of misfits to fend off Hala's advances and become the next superhero squad protecting good from evil.
Is it any good?
This origin story chronicles the cohesion among inhumans that fans have long seen on the fringes of other Marvel stories, and it does so in efficient, effective fashion. Kamala and Doreen are instantly appealing as teens who find their own sense of "normal" in a social system that pushes them to the outside. Enter Dante, who laments powers that he can't control and is reluctant to see them as an attribute until he's forced to accept them to save himself and his new friends. Still reeling from personal loss, America wants nothing to do with joining a fight that could cost her even more, especially if it means putting her faith in other people. And Daisy and Rayshaun weigh their duty as agents against the need to go rogue with their new teammates to do the right thing.
Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors follows the evolution of each of these heroes from ambitious, reluctant, or resigned to motivated and courageous. In each case, the teens wrestle with doubt and issues of self-confidence before coming to accept themselves -- and each other -- just as they are and to value each person's unique contribution to the team as a whole. Regardless of whether you're a superhero aficionado, these standout messages are a benefit to the movie's appeal. Factor in an exciting theme song by Dove Cameron and nonstop action, and it's easy to see that Secret Warriors is a Marvel must-see.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the story's roots in fantasy affect the impact of the movie's violence. Is it easy to dismiss how similar actions in the real world would have a different effect because this is a superhero story? Would the effect be different if Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors was done in live action? What kinds of violent or scary content affects you most?
Many of the characters go through emotional transformations as this movie plays out. Have all of them worked out their uncertainties by the end? Is it OK for a good guy in a story to have a dark side? Are good and evil always easy to decipher in movies like this one?
Which characters stand out to you as being courageous? Determined? Compassionate? Why are these important character strengths in TV and movie personalities? Who in your life personifies traits like these?
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