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Can I take my kid to Black Panther? A Parents’ Guide

A Parents Guide to Black Panther

Black Panther: The Movie America Needs

The expectations for Marvel’s Black Panther film are high. The Black Panther comics have frequently touched on race relations, he fought the KKK in the mid-seventies, and the never-colonized Wakanda is seen as an allegory for real-world Ethiopia. The current run of the comics by journalist (The Atlantic, Time, The Village Voice) and best-selling author (Between the World and Me, We Were Eight Years in Power) Ta’ Nehisi Coates is highly acclaimed, and many have made comparisons of Coates’ T’Challa to Barack Obama. Lack of representation and whitewashing are finally becoming part of our public discourse, and our current political climate is not one that is friendly to black people (frankly, America, in general, is not friendly to black people). So in this world we’re in, how would Marvel – a company known for feel-good superhero romps, deal with a character that has been pretty political – he is the leader of a nation, after all – since his debut?

I think they did it really well. (The huge disclaimer here is that these are the opinions of a white lady.) Much of the film’s conflict revolves around how black people around the world are subjugated, denied resources, and kept down by their governments. The filmmakers did not shy away from calling out colonialism, the war on drugs, and other crimes committed against black populations. In Wakanda, the residents literally have to hide their culture to protect themselves. I imagine this is something that modern people of color feel that they have to do to be successful in a society that is dominated by white people and is frequently hostile to outward expressions of blackness.

In Black Panther, like in real-life America, Black Women Save the Day

via GIPHY

My favorite part of this movie is that Black Panther doesn’t conquer any of the conflicts in the movie alone. He relies heavily on the women of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje, the King of Wakanda/Black Panther’s Royal Guards have been part of the mythos of Black Panther for the past twenty years. In the comics, they are Wakandas best women, chosen to be potential Queens for the King, and also to serve as highly trained guards. In the Black Panther movie, we don’t get a lot of background on who the Dora Milaje are, or what their history is – but what we do get is some serious ass-kicking by head guard Okoye. Okoye, like all of the female leads, saves the day more than Black Panther actually does. T’Challa’s sister, Shuri is a super-genius-Tony-Stark-like inventor who uses the Vibranuium that is so plentiful on Wakanda to create everything from a Mag-Lev transportation system to Black Panther’s suit.  T’Challa’s former girlfriend Nakia is a Wakandian spy and forward-thinker who wants to push Wakanda onto the world stage so that it might use its plentiful resources to help refugees. Finally, Ramonda, Queen of Wakanda, T’Challa and Shiri’s mother navigates the space between grieving her fallen husband and advising/protecting her newly crowned son. This is an overtly feminist film, and I was so into it.

White Parents, This is Your Teachable Moment.

White parents: There’s a lot here to talk about socially with younger kids. If you are willing to have these conversations (and you should) by all means take them to see Black Panther. They will see a world where people of color are inventors, negotiators, loving family members, queens, and heroes, and that’s something all white kids need to be exposed to more of.

Things all parents will want to talk about include themes of integrity, of taking responsibility for your mistakes, loyalty, and choosing to do what’s right over what’s expected.

So, Can I Bring my Kid to See Black Panther?

The bad guys in Black Panther use guns – the real-life kind, not cartoony laser weapons. People get shot, sometimes in cold blood. There are bullet wounds. There is hand-to-hand combat during a large-scale fight. Characters we have come to care for die. A character chooses to die rather than be jailed.

So at what age can your kid see Black Panther?  I think that if they have seen the other Marvel Movies, they’ll be fine. The motives of the bad guys are a little less clear-cut (they are even sympathetic sometimes), but this plot point could be the jumping off point for a good age-appropriate conversation about social justice.  If you really need a hard-age limit, a mature 10 years old is probably about right.


Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, and Angela Bassett. It is rated PG-13 and is in theatres now.

Captain America: Civil War – A Parents’ Guide. Can I bring my 6 year old to Captain America Civil War?

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I’m not going to lie, this may not be the most objective review of this movie you’re going to read. I totally fan-girled at this one. I love Marvel movies – I even love most of the movies starring Marvel characters made by other studios (there are some exceptions here of course, The Fantastic Four movies, the newest two Spider-Man Movies, X-Men: First Class).  I also loved the Civil War comics that the idea for this movie is based on.  So, yeah, I loved this movie.

But what about the kids? The movie is rated PG-13 for “Extended scenes of violence, action, and mayhem”, which is pretty typical stuff for a super-hero flick.  The big difference here – and what will undoubtedly be most disturbing to younger viewers – is that a lot of the “violence, action, and mayhem” occurs when the Avengers and friends are fighting each other. These fight scenes, especially as the movie reaches it climax, got increasingly more violent. I actually gasped at one point when I thought one Avenger was going to bash another Avenger’s head in. An arm gets ripped off, an assassin brutally kills a couple of civilians. Bombs go off, buildings collapse, people die. None of the wounds are especially gory or gross, but there is blood. It can be pretty rough.  That being said, if your kid has seen a bunch of other superhero flicks, this one probably isn’t going to phase them much.

The plot may be confusing to the youngest viewers. Once the civilians in the Marvel Cinematic Universe realize that all of these super cool battles come with a high number of civilian casualties, they push the government for oversight. The UN creates the Sokoiva Accords, which require Superheroes to register with and be governed by the UN.  (Side note: This was the most ridiculous scene in the movie to me. Secretary of State dude hands a 600 page document to Black Widow who looks at the title and hands it to War Machine. War Machine also glances at the title. Bam! Everyone’s mind has been made up – no one even cracks the cover of the Sokovia Accords). After being confronted by the mother of a civilian casualty, Iron Man chooses the pro-registration side. Captain America falls firmly on the side of personal autonomy  and THE LINES ARE DRAWN. Because this is technically a Captain America film, the fight centers around Bucky, the main villain from 2014’s Captain America: Winter Soldier who is also Cap’s BFF.  No spoilers here, but be aware that the plot could get confusing for younger viewers. There are a lot of side-changing and false accusations.

There’s a little bit of swearing (a goddamn, a son of a bitch and a shit).

While this movie is a little bit more intense, if your child is comfortable with the other Avengers films, this one should be fine. Just be ready to talk about why Captain America and Iron Man are fighting, and to go over some of the more confusing plot points.

So, “Can I bring my six year old to Captain America: Civil War?” I’d be fine with Kitty (currently age 9) seeing it, though I do think the plot is going to be tricky for her.

An In-Depth Look at Why You Shouldn’t Bring Your Kid to Deadpool

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Immediately after seeing Deadpool, I tweeted this:

“But my kid is mature” I can hear you say, “My kid has seen Deadpool in the comics and in the ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ cartoon! We know he’s sassy! My kid can handle it!”

Look, I feel you, really I do. I started Parenting Geekly years ago because I had this exact conversation in a comic book store. I wanted a place where parents like us could go to find out from another geeky parent if the violence and sometimes adult situations in a comic book movie would be okay for kids like ours.  I have reviewed a bunch of superhero movies, and I almost never (possibly ever) have said that you can’t take your kids, as long as you are willing to have honest and sometimes hard conversations afterwards.

THIS TIME I AM TELLING YOU NO.  I don’t care how much mature stuff your kid has seen, if your child is younger than mid-teens, this movie IS NOT APPROPRIATE.  First of all, it’s the first superhero movie in recent memory to be rated R, and it is a hard R.  In some ways, this is really positive. The movie studios are finally figuring out what comic nerds have known for years; that comic books aren’t just for kids. While Blade and The Punisher have had modest R-rated success, Deadpool’s amazing box-office showing has proven that adult comic book movies don’t have be dark and gritty to be successful, they can be funny.

But let’s get back to why you, Geeky Parent, have come here; to learn the nitty gritty of why bringing your Precious Little Snowflake to Deadpool is a bad idea:

I know the F-bomb isn’t going to bother your kid, it’s not going to bother mine either. I know that many of you have allowed your kids to watch movies with more violence than the average parent, I have,too!  (Kitty loves Terminator 2). And don’t even get me started on the average parents’ objection to sex in movies. If two adults are shown having a consensual relationship, sex in a movie is not an automatic deal breaker for me.  I’m actually pretty liberal with what I allow my kids to watch.

That being said, there is no way in hell I will let Kitty see this movie at age nine.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Gore: There is nothing “cartoony” about the violence in this movie. This is not stylized, comic-book gore. It’s hyper realistic. We’re talking weird chunks of flesh and brains and guts splooshing out. Viscous body fluids. Mangled, broken bones with gut-wrenching sound effects, graphic decapitations with heads literally rolling. There’s torture, there’s disfigurement, there’s SO MUCH BLOOD.
  • Sex: On the mild end of this spectrum, there is a scene that takes place in a strip club that features full frontal nudity, there’s brief male full-frontal nudity and  there’s a masturbation scene. On the more extreme side, there is a montage that shows Wade and Vanessa’s entire relationship progression through their sexual exploits. It’s graphic. They have sex in multiple positions, they talk crassly about it. He performs oral sex on her (with accessories), she has sex with him using a strap-on. None of this is subtle, it is very clear what particular sex acts they are performing.*
  • Adult jokes: Nothing is off-limits here.  There are dick jokes, rape jokes, child molestation jokes – one character flat out says she was molested by her uncles, there is no double entendre to hide behind, these jokes will not fly over your kid’s head.

If this hasn’t convinced you not to take your kid to this movie, nothing will and good luck to you.

I did take Nate. who is almost 16 and it was fine.  I would say this is a hard, hard R. If your teen hasn’t been sheltered from the internet and is comfortable with very adult themes, ages ~16 and up are fine.

*For young adults and grownups, I actually love that they show such a sex-positive relationship. I just don’t need my little kid to see it.