No superheroes for kids?

Jun. 22, 2013 @ 06:17 PM

“Man of Steel” is the big summer blockbuster, but I won’t be taking my kid to a movie that is about a superhero. That’s too bad, because he likes Superman and has already seen “Man of Steel” toys. The toy aisles are filled with Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman and every other action man, but if a child who likes, say, Captain America, wants to go see what Captain America is up to on screen, he suddenly must be a teenager. Why again? Why do these movies need to pile on the violent action or have a villain that goes so far beyond your basic villainy? Why ratchet up the G to PG to PG-13?

Today’s movies about Iron Man, Batman and Superman are for teenagers and adults, I told my son. I could see his confusion, wondering why there are toys for children from movies for grownups. I wonder the same thing. Certainly adult collectors aren’t buying all the superhero toys. That leaves the fact that movies for teenagers on up market products to those well younger than teenagers.

Oh, there’s plenty of scary business happening in cartoons. As a kid I had nightmares that Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” would come up from behind my headboard to attack me. She is by far the scariest Disney cartoon villain. We won’t be watching that one at family fun movie night anytime soon. If I want fresh, grownup nightmares, they are making a live action “Maleficent” for adults. Now even the kid movies are getting angrier, more violent live action reboots. The Grimm fairy tales were, well, grim. So we need to make that scarier?

Why does the Batman of Adam West need to become the Dark Knight? Why do we need things to be even more nefarious, more violent, more sad, more – well, just more.

We talk about kids growing up too fast, but once they get there they come to a full stop and want media mixes of childhood heroes with adult problems. Is it a desire to relive our youths on film, with characters less cartoon and more action? Well, what about the next generation, who doesn’t get to watch the cleaner versions first?

So the summer blockbusters I’m looking forward to are “Monsters University,” which I will have likely seen by the time you read this, and Pixar’s “Planes,” which is basically the aviation version of “Cars.” I’d prefer the lead roles weren’t all male, but at least Pixar is making slow progress on that. I liked seeing “Monsters Inc.” as an adult before I was a parent, and now several times more with my son. I’m looking forward to watching “Monsters University,” which is rated G, as much as he is. It is indeed possible for adults to enjoy movies that kids can see, too. I wish there were more of them.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.