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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Marvel's The Avengers

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans star in a scene from the movie "Marvel's The Avengers."
Seemingly destined to haul in wads of cash at the box office, the ensemble adventure "Marvel's The Avengers" (Disney) will not disappoint fans of the comic books on which it's based. But it may prove problematic for the parents of some excited youngsters anxious to ride the juggernaut.

The film has a long pedigree that can ultimately be traced back to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original comics series from 1963 (Lee serves the screen version as an executive producer).

More recently, it has been foreshadowed with subtle references and clues scattered among the four previously separate superhero franchises that are united here. 2011's "Captain America; The First Avenger," for instance, hinted at a future Avengers movie not only in its title but in a post-credits add-on scene as well.

Writer-director Joss Whedon's script juggles no fewer than six superheroes: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

Led by the eye-patched and grizzled Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), this dream team confronts the mischievous exiled Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Loki believes freedom is overrated, and has hatched a scheme involving some glowing square that triggers ... Well, who really cares what it triggers? Just sit there and eat your popcorn!

Not to be flippant, but the plot is unashamedly perfunctory, and serves only to place our oddly dressed friends in a situation where they can flex their magic muscles.

And flex they do: "The Avengers" shuns attempts at allegory or subtlety, replacing them with special effects, loud noises and a surprisingly witty sense of humor.

Which is not to say Whedon's plot is entirely shallow. Christian themes concerning the dignity of the person and the value of freedom underlie the hectic proceedings.

Captain America, moreover, is given a bit of dialogue showing him to be a firm believer, not only in Christ but in Jesus' incarnate nature as both God and man. A firm defense of the uniqueness of Christ's nature and role is a welcome surprise in a contemporary Hollywood movie, and, however brief, should be enthusiastically applauded.

But there are also more questionable elements on display amid all the mindless action. Though relatively mild, these troublesome ingredients—listed below—will nonetheless raise concerns for some parents, putting them in the uncomfortable position of having to tell the young 'uns under their care that this otherwise thoroughly enjoyable romp is off-limits.

The film contains intense but largely bloodless violence, a few mature references, including to suicide and drug use, and a handful of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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