Parent Concerns: Although most of the violence doesn't involve gruesome amounts of blood, there are two character deaths that may disturb younger viewers, as will the Lizard, who shreds into Peter, (leaving a nasty gash on his chest), and terrorizes hundreds of drivers on the Williamsburg Bridge. There's also some schoolyard bullying and widespread mayhem. But overall, the violence feels pretty standard for a comic-book movie. If you took your kid to "The Avengers," "Spider-Man" is considerably less aggressive.
Here are five tips/talking points to extend your movie-going experience:
1. Get Into Comic Books: If your kid wants to know how closely the movie follows the comic-book storylines, don't just look it up on Wikipedia. Instead, invest in checking out the source material (unless your brother is a walking Marvel encyclopedia like yours truly); comic books and graphic novels are a form of reading, no matter what your mother told you. As long as they're age-appropriate, they make an excellent addition to your family bookshelf -- particularly for reluctant readers.
2. Watch Sam Raimi's Trilogy: There are plenty of differences between Raimi-Maguire's take on Spidey and this new Webb-Garfield edition. The best way to have kids form nuanced opinions about adaptations is to watch both versions and then compare and contrast the director (and actors') interpretations. Look beyond the obvious (Maguire's Parker is in college, is already friends with Harry Osborn, and falls for Mary Jane, not Gwen), and discuss which Web Crawler you prefer and why.
3. Discuss Bullying: At the beginning of the movie, Peter deals with his bully of a classmate, class-A jerk Flash Thompson. Flash, a popular jock, thinks it's funny to pick on a smaller kid and punch Peter in the face. Later Peter gets his revenge, but Uncle Ben is ashamed that he acted vengefully. What would you want your kids to do in the face of bullying? Remind them that striking back (especially without superpowers) is rarely a good idea.
4. Peter vs. Spidey: Like all good superhero stories, "The Amazing Spider-Man" depicts the differences between Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego. There's something about putting on the mask that transforms Peter, and he's no longer the shy loner he is at school. He's funny, sarcastic -- cocky even. Are there any parallels between the "mask" and, say, the Internet for real-life teens? How does the Web provide adolescents with a way to try out a fierce, funny, fearless persona?
5. Comic(s) Violence: How does the violence in "Spider-Man" compare to other superhero films? Is it realistic, like in Christopher Nolan's "Batman" adaptation, or is it tamer, like in 'The Fantastic Four'? Does violence feel different when it's committed in a movie with imaginary superheroes than in war films, crime dramas or other believable scenarios? And does knowing there's a hero who will probably save the day change the impact of the violence?
"The Amazing Spider-Man" is in theaters now.
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