Warner Bros and DC have one-upped Disney and Marvel.
There is a glut of superhero movies and television shows available right now. With Legion premiering on FX recently and Logan hitting theaters, even those tired of superheroes should find something that is just a little bit different than what has come before. While making more adult superheroes stories, both DC and Marvel have been racing to make the edgiest entertainment they possibly can. Unfortunately, this also leaves families behind, as children have no business seeing Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, or Batman V Superman. DC have at least made an attempt to allow families to enjoy superheroes together once again with Lego Batman and now the obligation will be on Marvel to create something in the same vein.
In recent years, there has been a significantly reduced number of family oriented superhero films. To their credit, Marvel and Disney have experimented with superheroes that aren’t necessarily mainstream with their films The Incredibles (2004) and Big Hero 6 (2014), but characters such as Spider-Man or the X-Men have yet to have a family friendly outing. While I do not have children myself, I can’t imagine subjecting a child to the body count of something like Batman V Superman or the gun violence of Captain America: The Winter Solider. As a matter of fact, gun violence in PG-13 movies is soaring to incredible heights right now.
If you happened to see one of 2016’s biggest movies, Star Wars: Rogue One, the climatic battle sequence has more bullets flying than many equivalent R-rated films. The Washington Post reported that “according to a new analysis, the amount of gun violence in the 30 top-grossing PG-13 movies now exceeds the gun violence in the top R-rated flicks.” Even though many of these films contain “bloodless violence” where characters suffer fatal injuries with no apparent wound, this is still a visual of violence without consequence we are sending to children.
Kids love superheroes. Even if they haven’t seen many of the live-action movies due to their subject matter and violence, kids are inundated with merchandise for the greatest superheroes around. This becomes a problem when the adult has to tell their child, “I’m going to see a movie featuring a character you love, but you’re just going to have to wait till you’re a little bit older to see it.” I can’t imagine that going over well. Warner Bros and DC have been making “edgy, adult fare” for some time now, with many of their Batman offerings and even Superman being far too violent for children to enjoy. This is disheartening because children need superheroes in their lives and much of the entertainment DC has been producing lately has been inappropriate.
Thankfully with The Lego Batman Movie, DC made a quality big-budget movie featuring characters that children already know and love. Sporting a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91%, the film moved Batman into the Lego world and gave him a bright, exciting, family film for everyone. Many of us already look forward to the next superhero film coming out, but Lego Batman allows everyone to share that anticipation. Not only does the film work in delivering a fun outing for Batman, it gave audiences a reason to remember what they loved about him in the first place.
There is no reason that Marvel can’t make something equally as impressive as Lego Batman and they should certainly try. Perhaps the closest thing Marvel has under production right now is an as of yet Untitled Animated Spider-Man film coming in 2018. There is no word as to what kind of audience that film will be targeting though. This is an odd time because Marvel is always being touted as bringing the family fun, but DC has seemingly beat them to the punch.
What is appropriate for a child is different for every family. Both Marvel and DC have made entertainment throughout the years that multitudes of people can enjoy. It has just been a long time since one of them made a film as great as Lego Batman. There is obviously a demand for this kind of entertainment, it is important that both companies don’t forget the children while they try to impress adults.