Captain Marvel Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Captain Marvel

The 21st Marvel movie and the first to feature a female lead superhero blasted its way into theatres this weekend. But should you take your kids to see it? 

As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.

After 20 Marvel movies, all team-based or male-led, we finally get to see a female hero take the lead, and the wait is well worth it. The film treads the familiar superhero origin story beats, with the twist that the heroine has lost her memory and must piece together her past life before she can come into her true powers.

The movie opens on Hala, the Kree homeworld, where Vers (Brie Larson) – annoyingly pronounced “veers” by her compatriots – is a tactical soldier in the endless war on the Skrull, a race of shapeshifters and the sworn enemy of the Kree civilization. She’s tormented by dreams in which she’s an ace test pilot on Earth, and when she crash-lands into a Blockbuster video in 1990s L.A. after a mission gone wrong, she teams up with Nick Fury to unravel her past.

I’m summing up the plot very briefly because I don’t want to spoil too much here, but suffice to say, this is a standard Marvel movie in the best way. (For a more detailed review, read Joe Lipsett’s full take here.) There are fights both physical and aerial, some blood but nothing too violent and no gore. There are plenty of callbacks to previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but nothing that I’d consider essential viewing before you see this one — it is, after all, a prequel to the entirety of the MCU, so you could easily see it first.

There’s humour, there’s heart, there’s an adorable cat, and there’s the expected setup for Avengers: Endgame. Oh, and there’s also a delightful and tear-jerking tribute to the late Stan Lee in the opening title sequence. I can’t remember the last time I heard a packed theatre spontaneously erupt into applause at both the titles and the credits!

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So, should you take your kids to see it?

Under 10s

I mean, it’s a Marvel movie, so it’s designed to be viewed by all ages including school-age kids. The packed screening we attended had families of all ages as well as adults. YMMV, but I’d say the 2-hour-plus runtime and the somewhat convoluted plot might be too much for very young kids; but older kids will love it, especially if they’re already fans of the MCU. 

Tweens and Teens

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Those who have seen the other Marvel movies will relish the callbacks and cameos in this one. Those who haven’t will still find it a fun ride, with plenty of action both on Earth and in space, and enough plot twists to keep things interesting. Especially take your girls to see this; I overheard more than one tween and teen girl in the lobby afterwards talking excitedly about how much they can’t wait to see Captain Marvel in action again! 

Adults

Hey, remember the 90s? Even if you’re not a Marvel fan and you won’t get the many references to the other movies, you will definitely recognize the fun 1990s bits and soundtrack hits that are peppered throughout the Earth-set scenes. In addition to questionable fashion and dated technology (CD-ROMs!), the music cues will pull you back into the era of pop-punk and grunge the same way Guardians of the Galaxy reminded us of the sounds of the 70s. Take your kids to see this and enjoy explaining dial-up to them afterwards! 

Wee time

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It’s a pretty tight 2:05, but there are some longer minutes of non-essential dialogue at the 40-minute and one-hour marks that could be missed if you need to escort a child to the bathroom. (Note that these timestamps are from the start of the actual movie, not the trailers and ads that run before.) 

Bottom line:

It’s Marvel, and it’s just as good as it needs to be and nothing more. Definitely take your daughter(s) to see this movie, even if the only groundbreaking thing about it is that it features a female superhero lead. It’s about time our daughters saw themselves at the forefront of a Marvel movie, and for that reason alone this shouldn’t be missed. And of course, it’s a Marvel joint, so you should stay until the bitter end of the credits! 

Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of her child’s small bladder, and she let her children watch Deadpool at an inappropriately young age and stands by her choices.

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