I’ve been thinking a lot about role models lately. Or rather, the lack of good role models in the media. Our best role models are people we interact with in our everyday lives, but media has influence. And I’m not even talking about role models for kids. The media has been obsessed with all the drama coming out of Washington DC, and frankly, I. Am. Exhausted. The news gets me down. So down that anytime I sigh, my 9-year old asks, “What did he do this time?” (You know who he’s referring to.) And how is that being a good role model to my child? It’s me who needs a role model–an honorable hero I can model my behavior after. Maybe a superhero, even.
So, here are few superhero movies I enjoyed watching with my 9-year old this summer.
I sincerely hope that a legion of girls walked out of the movie theater wanting to be Wonder Woman. Not just because she can fight, because she uses her power to protect those who can’t. Actress Gal Gadot does a superb job bringing Wonder Woman to life. She is strong, determined and unstoppable.
The first twenty minutes of the movie takes place on Wonder Woman’s home of Themyscira, a dreamlike paradise where warrior women train to fight. No man exists on Themyscira until Steve Trevor, an American spy on the run from the Germans, crashes his stolen German plane near the island. World War I is raging in the world of men, and Diana (Wonder Woman) is convinced this is the work of her nemesis Ares.
There is a brief and obligatory romance between Diana and Steve, but their relationship grows out of mutual respect. It’s a great superhero film for boys too, because while Steve isn’t a superhero, he is a hero nonetheless, and a good man.
Actress Gal Gadot has done a great job bringing Diana to life, portraying her dignity and strength. I can’t wait for the sequel!
I didn’t grow up with superhero comics, but ask any Generation X comic fans and they break into two categories: Spider-Man fans and X-Men fans. They both address the awkwardness and alienation of growing up in different ways. If X-Men is about growing up a freak, Spider-Man is all about growing up normal and suddenly acquiring a superpower–all the while dealing with life, like school and dating.
The movie version of Spider-Man has been through several versions, but this one, portrayed by Tom Holland, might be the best. Earnest, eager, and desperate to earn the respect of his hero Tony Stark (Iron Man), he is every bit a 15-year old teenager.
Spider-Man has been uploading his neighborhood crime-fighting antics on YouTube, but he’s ready for something bigger. Having a secret identity comes with a price. You might alienate your friends with your mysterious ways. Expose them to life-threatening danger because of it, even.
This movie is all about Peter overcoming his selfish desire to be a superhero and actually putting that power to helping people, not just as YouTube antics. And what is a superhero if he isn’t fighting for a cause outside of himself? Oh, and his nemesis Vulture (played by Michael Keaton) is genuinely scary.
Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2
The second installment of Guardians of The Galaxy, just as the first, is a swashbucking space adventure featuring a group of emotionally-damaged outsiders. They remind me of a RuPaul quote from RuPaul’s Drag Race. “As gay people, we get to choose our family and the people we’re around. I am your family. We are family here.” Whether it’s Peter Quill’s temperamental ways, Rocket Racoon’s over-the-top temper, Gamora’s detached assassin ways, or Drax’s inability to read social context, they choose to stay together, accepting each other’s flaws, picking up odd jobs and saving the world.
Peter Quill, kidnapped from Earth by space pirates as a young boy, dealt with his mommy issues in the first movie. His daddy issues take center stage in this one, caught between his adoptive space-pirate dad and a man claiming to be his real father. The complicated family drama I love in this film, though, is between Gamora and her sister Nebula. It isn’t quite Elsa and Anna of Frozen, but their relationship evolves through conflict.
This band of outsiders may not be the greatest on their own, but together, they have the power to save the world. It’s a fun romp that will leave you feeling uplifted.
Which movie did you enjoy watching with your kiddos this summer? Let us know!