My son started seeing previews for Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies and understanding that there was something cool about them before he was even three. And thus began the refrain now seemingly uttered in our house daily: "When you're a little older..."
The MCU offers entertainment value out the wazoo, but one of the reasons the movies have done so well is because they offer a lil' sumthin' for adults. Mostly lots of violence and sexual innuendo, which, some might say, is not appropriate for small children.
But fear not! For parents like moi, that just can't wait to start brainwashing their kids into superhero-loving consumers, there are some Marvel movies that will be just fine for that little bundle of joy that is beginning to realize you have no true dominion over them anyway.
These are the MCU movies that are (mostly) fine for kids, albeit every kid is different and comfortable or uncomfortable with different things. My son freaked out during the opening dream-like scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp but has no problem with T-Rexes eating people off the toilet in Jurassic Park. Go figure.
These five MCU movies will make solid introductions to the MCU for your little ones, with minimal concerns for parents.
Disclaimer: There's no denying it: MCU movies are full of violence, even if it's mostly cartoonish. Marvel movies can be good for a lot of 5 year olds, but not EVERY one of them. Just, you know, be a parent.
This was my son's first MCU movie and first live action superhero movie, and it was a good call.
For starters, there's a scene where Ant-Man and the Yellowjacket fight amongst a Thomas the Tank Engine set. That will sell kids right away.
And while the plot will likely be lost on most kids, the simple idea of shrinking extremely small is something that will both make sense to them and be appealing as a type of superpower. It won't require a lot of explanation on your part.
The fact that Scott Lang has a young kid and goes to her birthday party also adds something relatable.
Also, Baskin Robbins always finds out.
What to watch out for: There are a few uses of curse words, but no F word. Still, if you have one of those tykes that likes to repeat every curse word they hear, have a chat ahead of time about when and where to use those words. Something like this: "Daddy can use those words when he's playing video games, but you may NEVER say them EVER."
There's also a scene where the villain turns someone into a little pile of goo. My kid barely noticed, but it might be freaky for other kids that are less awesome and amazing.
While Ant-Man was a solid starter, we easily could have — and maybe should have — started with Spider-Man: Homecoming.
What kid isn't already interested in spiders? And the idea that there's someone that basically has all the powers of a spider is easy to grasp, not to mention awesome.
There is also, compared to other MCU movies, very little violence in this one. Even the villain is really just a misguided father.
What to watch out for: There really is very little for parents to be concerned with overall in this movie. It's a very good movie that focuses on a young protagonist learning what it means to really be a hero. There is really only one death, when Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, blasts one of his underlings into oblivion. There's no gore, he just kind of disintegrates into nothingness. If you're uncomfortable with that, I'm questioning why you would even watch a Marvel movie yourself, but hey, whatever tickles your pickle.
Marvel's The Avengers
A mostly light-hearted meeting of the most powerful — and most popular — superheroes on Earth? Check. Tons of cool action? Check. An entry in the series where half the heroes don't blink out of existence? Check.
It's hard to go wrong with the first entry in what has become a film franchise to rival all others in history: Marvel's The Avengers. Hopefully someday they'll remove the "Marvel" from the official title. Just sounds kinda stupid.
There's not a lot of time for depressing backstories when you have all those egos — er, heroes — jam-packed together. And Loki, while a great villain, isn't exactly scary. Even when the Chitauri attack the city, it's with creature-like technology that seems to intrigue rather than frighten young ones.
What to watch out for: It's an MCU movie, so of course there's some violence, and the Other and Chitauri are kind of creepy, but all of that was no problem for my kiddo. The main issue was simply the length. There's a loooot of talking, which I never really realized before. We ended up watching it in two chunks. The last 30 minutes of the movie definitely tilt the scales, but it's a reminder for me that right now my kid's just into action. While I want to sit and explain every detail of the story to him, he ain't havin' it.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Some kids might find Ronan the Accuser a bit scary in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course a mom dying of cancer might not be the greatest way to open a story for kids. None of those iffy things are really present in this installment of the franchise.
The humor is great for adults, but has plenty to offer kids as well. Of course, in some cases, there is no distinction between age and humor (I mean, c'mon, poop is always funny). There are some monsters and some of the ravagers could seem scary, but as one of the "funny" MCU movies, it's always tinged with silliness.
Overall this movie is a visual feast, and while kids might miss some of the nuances, the story is generally pretty easy to follow. Plus, who doesn't love Rocket?
What to watch out for: When the Ravagers stage their mutiny of Yondu and begin disposing of those loyal to him, they do so by sending them into space. In one shot, Tullk, one of Yondu's most loyal men, is put into a chamber and released. We see him freeze and his skin turn an odd color as he perishes nearly instantly. That's not soooo bad (pretty bad), but then the camera pans out and you see there are dozens of lifeless bodies. Might be a good time to throw the blinders on or mention that they're "just taking a nap." There's also a scene where Yondu murders like 100 of his ex-crew, but again, it's very cartoonish, tinged with silliness, and all to a killer soundtrack.
There are quite a few S-bombs, more than other Marvel movies, so again, depends on how annoying your kid can be.
Lastly, the creepiest element might be when Ego the Living Planet is going in and out of form. There's a part towards the end where you see his muscles and skull coming through. It could be icky for a little dude or dudette — although it's likely they'll just think it's cool. Because it is.
You may be sensing a theme here: Sequels tend to be pretty good for the kids. Origin stories can be more intense — or just more boring for those short attention spans.
Of course, since all the Thor movies carry the same levity as the Guardians franchise, it's hard to go wrong with any of them, but Ragnarok takes it a step further by allowing Hulk and Thor to fight each other (some more). It's also more straightforward and action=packed than the other entries.
I was actually worried my son would wonder why the crap two of his favorite heroes were fighting. Turned out he thought it was frickin' hilarious.
All in all this one doesn't take itself too seriously, and even the final battle with Hela isn't very alarming.
What to watch out for: Jeff Goldblum. Also, when Thor loses his eye it's a little gruesome. Otherwise this is one of the lighter MCU movies overall — assuming mini-you doesn't fully grasp the whole goddess of death thing.