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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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