Life Lessons, Courtesy of the MCU (Part 1)

Tony, Thor, and Thanos

Life Lessons, Courtesy of the MCU (Part 1)

The wonderful thing about Marvel comics is that the stories aren’t just about super heroes or saving the day.  Most of the time they are allegories for other social issues or filled with various life lessons.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is no different, as just about every film have some great themes that can make for excellent fodder for you to discuss with your children about.

In Part 1 of a new series, let’s take a look back at the films in the MCU and dive into some of the issues that you and your children can discuss (oh, and SPOILER WARNINGS for many of the films discussed):

Taking responsibility for your past actions (as seen in Iron Man)

The MCU began with Tony Stark and Iron man back in 2008, as the film is the origin story of how a playboy zillionare scientific genius arms dealer transforms into the titular persona.  In the film, he discovers how his creations had created more harm than good, especially when he is forced to acknowledge this fact when he is held captive by terrorists.

After his escape, he vows to correct the error of his ways and get him and his company out of firearm manufacturing.  Such a change is met with great resistance, especially from those within his own company, but he is dedicated to making this change.

This was just the first of many stories in which Tony Stark is forced to acknowledge that his actions sometimes had a negative ripple effect, and the easiest thing for him to do, especially with the lifestyle that he led, was to simply ignore the negative consequences and continue to reap the benefits.  He also ends up being hurt many times along the way when trying to do the right thing, but he was willing to go through the pain, but in order to redeem himself for his past actions, he was willing to deal with the negative implications.

Seeking forgiveness and redemption are never easy, but achieving both are best for both the individual and those who are impacted by their actions.  With this in mind, open a conversation with your kids about how they may have done something wrong that may have impacted someone else negatively, and talk about what they did to repair that relationship (or, if they hadn’t yet, what they may be able to do to do so).

Home isn’t a place (as seen in Thor: Ragnarok)

For the majority of the film, Thor is trying to prevent the destruction of Asgard at the hands of his sister Hela.  His majestic homeland is in peril, but throughout Thor’s journey in the film, he begins to realize that it’s not the place that makes Asgard the incredible nation that it is, but rather the people that inhabit it that does.  By the end of the film, their homeland is completely destroyed, but the people of Asgard are even better off as they are traveling through space, for they are all together and living in harmony (well, that is until Thanos shows up at the beginning of Infinity War, but that’s besides the point).

This is a great message, especially for kids who may have had to leave the home that they grew up in because of various situations.  Whether it’s because of economic reasons, damage to the home, or maybe the parents had separated and they are no longer living in their original home, it is important that they know that what is important isn’t the structure that they live in that they should call home, but more so the people that they are with.

Being open to new suggestions (what Thanos fails to do in Avengers: Infinity War)

There are many different discussion topics in Avengers: Infinity War, but one that is seen as a plot hole by some is why Thanos is determined to eliminate half of all living creatures in the universe as opposed to creating any other solutions to the problem of overpopulation.  From the very beginning of the film until the very end, Thanos has one solution in mind to prevent the complete extinction of existence due to overpopulation (a problem that destroyed his home planet of Titan), even though it is not the best solution to the issue.  Just about everyone I have ever talked about this film with have brought up the same point of, “If he had the Infinity Gauntlet and could do just about anything with it, why didn’t he just create more resources?”

With the destruction of his home planet, he felt that it was his responsibility to make sure that the problem wouldn’t carry over to the rest of existence, and so he had a one track mind to how to solve the problem.  Any other suggestions were instantly dismissed, and he felt he was making the greatest sacrifice by fulfilling such a monstrous plan, not noticing that his stubbornness would end up causing great pain throughout the universe (and even to himself).

We all fall into the trap of not being open to other ideas when we have our minds set on something.  We’ve probably also have had many arguments with our children because we have wanted them to do something, but they had other plans in mind and refused to do what we are saying, even though what we are telling them would most likely be better for them in the long run.  Using the example of “the snap” may be a great way to talk about communication and being open to new suggestions to help make the best choices.


Check back soon for Part 2!


Originally Published on April 9, 2019