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5 Reasons Why Superhero Movies Are More Adult Than Their Ratings Suggest

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There are so, so many super hero movies now, and aside from, like, Deadpool, they’re all rated either PG or PG-13. And why not? They are for kids! Adults can love superhero comics, but it’s no different than adults who love YA fiction — the damn things are still geared towards the young. But some superhero movies, perhaps, are more adult than their ratings would suggest, and here’s why…

 

The Violence

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For real, some of these movies are incredibly violent. [Minor spolier] Zemo drowns a man who is hanging upside down in an act of torture in one of the first scenes of Captain America: Civil War. The Joker kills a man by driving a pencil into his brain in The Dark Knight and it got laughs, for God’s sake! This kind of violence has real world consequences, but in these movies, a guy gets shot dead, falls over the side of a boat, and is never thought about again. Also, there’s so much head punching in these movies. You can die every time you get punched in the head! It’s your head! Your BRAIN is in there! Don’t go around getting it punched!

 

Story Demands

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The Marvel film universe is well on its way to being bogged down in the same heavy mythology that haunts every comics publisher — there’s so much to remember, and while the movie tries its best to be accessible to new viewers, it’s still a bumpy ride even for people who’ve actually seen the previous films. (If any of these movies end up requiring in-depth knowledge of Thor: The Dark World, I’m doomed.) So not to give kids short shrift on their memory capabilities, but I remember having a way shorter attention span when I was a kid/teen, so I can’t imagine how many details are being lost on these kids.

 

The Length

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The length of Hollywood blockbusters have become my white whale — movies are so, so, so long and I can’t handle it. Usually it’s because they’re just so overstuffed with junk. They’re starting to resemble Return of the King, just ending after ending after ending. And those endings turn into just a whole bunch of punching and shooting of faceless minions. I would get bored as hell during a movie when I was younger, and I hadn’t become accustomed to short bursts of entertainment like short YouTube videos, or six second Vines. No judgement on that, I just think it’s made people accustomed to shorter entertainment. SIDE NOTE: Props to Civil War for being two and half hours long and at no point feeling too long or like it didn’t earn every second of its running time.

Adult Relationships

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The kind of friendship Cap and Bucky have is weirdly grown up (and in the eyes of a not-small chunk of the internet, fairly homoerotic). And in Batman V. Superman, Clark Kent gets into a bath with Lois Lane. Like, come on man, that’s grown up stuff. Baths together are for incredibly intimate relationships, and very young siblings (and often in a sink, according to very old photos). If I’d been twelve years old, sitting in that theater next to my parents when Superman got into a bath with Lois Lane, I would’ve died of embarrassment.

 

The Politics

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The geopolitics of the Marvel Universe are so complicated they’re threaten to go Phantom Menace on us, what with all the senate hearings, UN meetings, and evil senators. To be fair, a lot of these scenes have been well-acted and interesting, but still, what weird kid is like “God, I hope the UN’s global strategic defense commission meets again in the second Ant-Man movie!” (I would’ve been that kid.)

Anything strike you as particularly mature about superhero movies these days?

Contributor: 
Will Weldon
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