When an ancient, all-powerful force of evil arrives on the scene, it tends to change the status quo. Just ask the characters of X-Men: Apocalypse, who find themselves face-to-face with a titular mutant (Oscar Isaac) determined to wipe out the entire human race and start anew.
With a premise loaded with devastation, some moviegoers may not think the film would make for ideal family viewing, while others will simply see costumed heroes on the poster and assume that this is just pure adventure and excitement fit for all ages. As superhero films evolve, the line between what is and isn’t appropriate for children is becoming as murky as a Robin Thicke tune.
Take, for example, Deadpool. Against all odds, that film bucked convention (and the family-friendly tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) to transform the “risky” concept of an R-rated superhero film into a smart business move, amassing a staggering $763 million worldwide gross against a production budget of just $58 million.
However, few would label that film — and its nonstop barrage of profanity, sexual humor, and extreme violence — as something appropriate for kids, despite the fact that it shares continuity with the core X-Men films.
Although X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t bear an R rating like the Ryan Reynolds film, it still stands as perhaps the most violent entry in the X-Men films thus far; a fact that is undoubtedly implied by its disaster-focused title.
Nuclear weapons the world over are simultaneously deployed at one point, leaving the sky full of flames and setting the stage for even more destruction to come. Bridges and buildings fall, and even Charles Xavier’s precious mansion — filled to the brim with mutant children — isn’t immune from the wrath of Apocalypse himself.
Of course, audiences are pretty well-accustomed to this kind of superficial violence. After all, Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow director Roland Emmerich has built a career in part off of moviegoers’ fascination with seeing real-life landmarks crumble on the big screen.
Both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War tackled the collateral damage that too often surrounds the superheroics of these comic book characters. So it’s quite likely that the widespread destruction featured in X-Men: Apocalypse is simply par for the course by now.
At the very least, the film doesn’t explicitly show any gruesome deaths resulting from these events, keeping the gory details limited and/or offscreen. Yet, the violence in X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t limited simply to the disaster variety. This is a film in which a large segment of its narrative hinges on the accidental murder of a young child, for example.
In addition, a mysterious fan-favorite character briefly appears in a particularly bloody sequence, which leaves numerous bodies in its wake and may shock younger fans who are unprepared for such explicit brutality from an X-Men film.
True, much of this footage is played off as typical action-film fare, but considering the moral ambiguity involved in this particular case (we never said the character is traditionally depicted as a villain), it does raise some uncomfortable questions that could easily rival how some fans reacted to the uncharacteristically violent Batman persona featured in this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Of course, none of this is to say that IDs should be checked at the door for X-Men: Apocalypse. Rather, the film — much like The Dark Knight before it — carefully tows the line between PG-13 and R, falling just shy of crossing over into something truly objectionable. That aside, parents should consider the amount of violence in the film and whether or not their children are mature enough to bear witness to what’s onscreen.
Each child’s experience is different, and accordingly, parents all have their own barometer for what is or isn’t appropriate for their little ones. For the right audience, X-Men: Apocalypse has a lot of genuine entertainment value and serves as a worthy, if not stellar, installment in the long-running franchise. Still, younger children may be better served by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, as this film specifically caters to that demographic.
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