Family Zone

Film Mom: Why Superheroes Owe It All to Dear Old Dad

Tara McNamara

What makes a superhero? Daddy issues, apparently. Man of Steel portrays the internal struggle Clark Kent experiences when he gets conflicting advice from his two dads—one alien, one human--about whether to hide or use his powers. Luckily, both dads fostered a strong sense of morality in their boy which motivates Clark/Kal-El to use his powers for good. It turns out, though, that most superheroes choose the path of fighting crime because of their fathers.

Batman. Watching one's parents get gunned down in the street would cause any child to be twitchy. When that kid's dad is a wealthy and courageous saint, as was philanthropist surgeon Dr. Thomas Wayne, using his inheritance to make the world a safer place was inevitable.  

Iron Man. Tony Stark bemoaned the fact that his alcoholic dad "never told me he loved me, he didn't even tell me he liked me." To make it worse, Howard Stark was disappointed in his son. No wonder Tony became a drunk. When Tony realizes his dad's defense tech company is enabling the bad guys as much as protecting the good guys, he has the moral upper hand on dear old dad and closes Stark Industries' weapons division. 

Thor. When we're young, most of us see our dads as gods; in Thor's case, Odin really holds that title. Thor is raised with the expectation of being a great warrior so he can protect the world he will eventually rule. That's a lot of pressure for a dad to put on a kid! In this case, though, it works. Believe in your kid and he'll believe in himself.

Wolverine. Wolverine has daddy issues and granddaddy issues. Wolverine was born James Howlett but adopts the name Logan. Logan is also the last name of his father's killer who turns out to be his biological dad. Wolverine kills him as well. That's a lot to take in. Now consider that Wolverine's grandpa becomes his guardian AND the guardian of the son of his dad's murderer…and grandpa prefers that kid. Makes you appreciate your own family a little more.

Happy Father's Day!

Here are three movies to see with your kids in the theater this week.

Man of Steel. Superman's tale is a poem to adopted dads, stepdads and birth dads, one and all. A deadly tornado and the 9/11ish destruction of Metropolis make this film for kids who can handle the intensity.

After Earth. Will and Jaden Smith's film is a metaphor for growing up with a father's guidance. It's the best Father's Day movie, maybe ever, and is a great choice for dad's and tween sons.

Epic. Both human-size M.K. and bug-size Nod are absorbed in the grief of losing a parent. When the responsibility of a new life is put into their hands, the teens learn to appreciate the guardians who care for them now.

 

Don't trust a middle-age critic to tell you if your kid will like these movies, read what kids think! Go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.

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