Talking With Your Kids Topics in Avengers: Endgame (SPOILERS)
WARNING!!! THIS WILL DISCUSS PLOT POINTS OF AVENGERS: ENDGAME!!! IF YOU ARE TRYING TO AVOID ANY TYPES OF SPOILERS, STOP READING NOW!!!
There is a lot to take in when watching the 22nd entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and for younger viewers, the emotional impact that it may have may be difficult for them to process. This isn’t just a movie where popular characters kick the bucket. It actually deals with the impact that loss of loved ones has on us. For older viewers, we will be able to compare it to various life experiences we have endured. For younger viewers, this may be a new experience or it may possibly parallel an experience they’ve just dealt with and are still trying to comprehend. Either way, Endgame will bring up many emotions, with some harder to deal with than others. It will be important to talk with your kids after the final credits roll about what they just experienced, and in this article we’ll discuss topics and themes they may have questions about and how to discuss them.
Let’s start with the events that take place shortly after the beginning of the film, when the Avengers head to seek out Thanos on his farm planet and take back the stones, only to find out they have been destroyed and there is no hope in ever retrieving them and the results of “the snap” are permanent. We leap five years after those events and we see a world that is trying to come to terms that half of life has disappeared, and depression and sorrow has swept the world. The efforts to enjoy everyday life have dwindled considerably, as we see many neighborhoods that have become overgrown or abandoned. We even see Steve Rogers lead a support group of snap survivors trying to deal with their emotions after losing their loved ones.
These scenes reminded me so much of the grief we all felt after the events of 9/11, especially those of us who had ties to the tragedy. The way the attacks seemed so random, sudden, and grand in scale were incredibly hard to fathom. Yes, tragedy strikes every day, but the volume of death and destruction that day is still difficult to comprehend.
Younger viewers likely won’t have an event like this to compare this to on an emotional level, so they may be confused on why everyone who was still alive had pretty much stopped living their lives. It will probably confuse them even more when the heroes of the film seem to have given up hope on finding any resolution, no matter how hard they try.
When you are asked, “why is everyone sad?”, the answer shouldn’t be as simple as “because people died,” but talk about the sudden nature of the loss that everyone had to deal with, and the fact that everyone, even the super heroes, feel helpless to be able to do anything to stop it. It isn’t just the fact that they lost people, it is the fact that they lost so many people and how quickly they lost them. They became so sad that they had troubles figuring out how to be happy.
It is VERY important to point out the support group and also the conversations that Natalia Romanova were having, for when we are sad or are having troubles figuring out our emotions, it is very important to talk to someone about that. Dealing with emotional pain shouldn’t be done by oneself, but rather it’s important to talk to others and get those emotions out. It may not instantly cure someone of their sadness, but it does a lot more good than just keeping all of one’s emotions bottled up inside.
“Fat Thor” is also a topic that will likely come up, because kids may be wondering why one of the strongest Avengers turned into a drunken slob. He is a prime example of when emotions are kept bottled up inside, and instead of dealing with those emotions, artificial remedies are used to mask the pain. Whether using food or beer or any of the other unhealthy life choices he’s making, Thor is using these things instead of dealing with the guilt and sadness of not being able to prevent the loss of those he cares about. In avoid talking about his pain, he kept it bottled up inside, causing him to fall into a bottomless pit of sadness. It isn’t until after he talks about his pain and takes it head-on does he regain his strength, both physically and mentally.
Most of the second act is spent with time travel and three of the main characters being able to cross paths with those they lost in their life (and prior to the snap). Two of them in particular, Tony Stark/Iron Man and Thor, are able to see a parent that had died. This is the ultimate fantasy scenario for anyone who has ever lost a close family member but never thought they had the chance to properly say goodbye before their passing. In both of their cases, they are also able to hear how much their parent had loved them, tearing down all of their insecurities they had about obtaining their parent’s approval.
Both Stark and Thor are able to receive reconciliation with their parent after their passing and are able to achieve closure. For many watching this film, they can name at least one person they wish they could’ve told them how much they meant to them prior to them leaving this Earth (I know of at least two, if not more).
If you are like me, I have tried to learn from this and make sure that those who I care about always know what they mean to me, even if it’s painfully obvious. I never want the chance that I may be remorseful of not being able to share my true feelings with someone as much as I wanted to.
There is a really good chance that while your child may not get misty eyed during these scenes, they may catch you wiping a tear away, and when they do, let them know why you always tell them that you love them, for you never want them to have any doubt that you feel that way.
Finally, let’s talk about Tony Stark’s sacrifice at the end of the movie, and the funeral following. While the funeral scene is pretty straight forward, the moment where Pepper Potts gives Tony permission to pass away may be confusing for your younger viewers. They may be confused on why she would “want” him to die, especially knowing how much they love each other.
To you and I, we know that Pepper doesn’t WANT Tony dead, but she says that to him to give him peace that she and their daughter will be all right. As you recall, Tony Stark was reluctant on trying to get the stones back, for he had made a life for himself with Pepper, and they were happy being parents to their little girl. He had a good life, but he knew that he would likely have to sacrifice himself to bring billions of people back. He wasn’t worried about dying in the process, but he was worried of abandoning those he loved and wanted to protect them. Pepper Potts saying that it was ok for Tony to let go was to ease his heart from thinking he would be leaving his wife and daughter in an place of no recovery.
So when your children ask why Pepper Potts said what she said, let them know that it was out of love that she told him, because he wasn’t going to be able to survive his wounds, so what she told Tony gave him the peace of mind that she and their daughter were going to be all right and they would always love him.
Tears will be shed in this movie. That is unavoidable. I saw it in a theater of adults, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. A movie about aliens and wizards and billionaires in robot suits caused a room full of adults to cry like newborns. Your children will cry, too. And you need to let them know that it’s ok to cry and feel those emotions. Now, if your child has recently dealt with someone close to them passing, this may be a film you may want to hold off on viewing until they have come to better terms with that loss. It may also be a good way to show your child that other people feel the same feelings that they do, and it is perfectly natural to feel sad and miss those we lost.
But even in this film filled with loss and sadness, there is also a great message of hope and how our love for one another, whether it’s the love we share with family members to the love we have for our friends, can result in a brighter future. We should never forget those we lost, and we should cherish those memories we had with them, but in their memory we need to continue to move forward and live our lives to the fullest.
Originally published on May 1, 2019