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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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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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