GeekMom: Introducing the Marvel Cinematic Universe to My Pre-teen: Phases Three and Four

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My son and I continued our trek through the MCU this summer and into the fall, with phases three and four. We still have yet to see SpiderMan: Far From Home but feel adequately complete having watched through Avengers: End Game. It was rough going through these last movies. The themes get heavier and more involved, while the levels of connection in the storylines can be both a blessing and a burden.

Our most highly anticipated movie of this final phase was Thor:Ragnorak. Jokes around Mjolnir are among the favorite jokes of my eleven year old, but it was the Brian David Gilbert video “Alone in my Apartment” that led to his desire to see this movie. I had more than my usual amount of qualms about this one, especially over some of the Grand Master gags, but again, most of the smut went over his head. I began to wonder if the writers and designers of this grand story line actually knew what they were doing, and how to speak to both old and young fans. Gasp. I think he would happily watch this movie on repeat with his dad, but it still doesn’t match his love of some of the other movies and characters in this phase.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was a big hit, and has led to one of the great questions of our age; Which is cuter Baby Groot or Baby Yoda? When we discovered an old walkman in a box from the grandparents house, his joy matched those of an eighties kid receiving their first walkman. It was a little sad that the David Hasselhof jokes went over his head, but I feel he is developing a good appreciation for the wonder that is Kurt Russel. Thanks to this movie and to Netflix’ The Christmas Chronicles, I can’t wait to introduce him to the original Overboard.

Some of the timeline back and forth in Infinity War and Endgame took more pausing and explanations than previously, which is a big deal because he generally asks questions every five minutes. He really enjoyed seeing Tony interact with his dad, and felt an appropriate amount of sorry for Cap seeing Peggy from a distance. I admit I felt a glow of parental pride during Infinity War, as my son had the only reaction anyone should have during a particularly crucial moment in Infinity War. “It was off! Quill, you idiot!”

For me the MCU hits the same spots that yearns for Middle Earth, the overarching story of the nature of man, the grandiose world building and execution of interconnected story lines. I love any story where people rise to a challenge, and anything involving Mythology particularly if it’s Nordic. For my eleven year old however, it wasn’t the glorious purpose of the MCU as a whole that got to him. He was far more interested in the stand alone movies, the origin stories. His commitment to the telling of one tale far outweighed his commitment to the bigger picture. Thus we conclude the MCU with his favorite character remaining Ant Man, Paul Rudd for the win. Spiderman and Dr Strange run closely behind, but it’s the charming and quirky down to earth Scott Lang that most appealed to him. While I revel in stories about Asgard being a people not a place, he wants to see a giant Pez dispenser rolling down the street, or pick his car from a Hot Wheels dispenser. Of course there is nothing wrong with either approach, but I find myself having experienced the MCU with the best of both worlds by watching it with my darling eldest son. I can’t wait to see what he’ll make of Loki!

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