Rebecca Cusey responds to my post about the controversial “He’s adopted” line in The Avengers:
The line is not entirely throw away. It’s a reference to events in the Thor movie (one of the many running up to The Avengers that told the backstories of the characters.) Loki, the villain (played by Tom Hiddleston) was raised by the god Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and as a brother to Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Loki finds out he was taken into the divine household as a peace keeping effort on Odin’s part and is, in fact, not Odin’s son. He’s the son of Odin’s enemy, Laufey of the Frost Giants, whom Odin beat into submission and took Loki as his own. Loki does not take this well. Thus is born the rivalry between Thor, the biological son, and Loki, the adopted son. Being gods and all, it has consequences for everyone. Norse mythology, like superhero movies, explore issues of humanity on a grand scale.
This line hearkens back to the issues of adoption in an archtypical sense. Not that that will necessarily make anyone feel any better.
If people want to get mad about adoption (and who doesn’t?), they should be mad at the Three Stooges movie which showed a loving but wacky and poor orphanage lining kids up and having rich parents pick one in about three minutes, and then the parents returned the kid because he wanted them to adopt his friends too and he was never adopted. Plus, the orphanage was the good thing. The whole movie was trying to save the orphanage from being shut down and the kids from being sent to foster care (“where people are paid to love me.”) It was pretty bad. Even worse on adoption than Despicable Me.
Also, I’d love to see someone explore adoption in Once Upon a Time, a show I love but has a pretty bad adoption message. The birth mother comes back into town and is the salvation of her child as well as the town. The adoptive mother is truly evil (we think), and is basically the evil stepmother, but she pretends to love the kid. You end up rooting for him to reject his adoptive mother and cast his lot with his biological mother. I’d be horrified if I were an adoptive parent. Plus, the biological mother is prettier and smarter (mostly) and definitely better and more sympathetic than the adoptive mother. No fathers around in either case, btw. (Although I think the bio dad may come through in some plot lines).
I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 was pretty good and sweet exploring these themes. You had to be ready for it, but at least it was all true and loving.
Nancy also writes for The Home Front blog, where this first appeared.
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