Avengers Adoption Blunder?

Apparently, a throw away line in The Avengers is bothering adoptive families and those who love them.

Nancy French writes:

Since I’ve mentioned the wonderful movie “The Avengers” on this blog, I’ve been getting e-mails about a certain exchange in the movie that has cause some consternation in the adoption community. Since we are a family that grew through adoption, we’ve been asked how we dealt with this questionable dialogue:

Thor: He is of Asgard and he is my brother!
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in 2 days.
Thor [deadpan]: He’s adopted.

Nancy goes on to discuss adoptive parents’ and children’s reactions.

However, 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.

For more reading, check out our Avengers review.

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • Mara
  • Kit

    One thing to note: Actually, if I remember THOR correctly. Odin always looked upon Loki as a son. Thor was the king (first-born and all) but Loki was still his son and Thor’s brother.

    Loki just had some massive insecurity issues about living in Thor’s shadow (who was a bit of a brat) that were only heightened when he found out he wasn’t born in Asgard.

    There was already some huge sibling rivalry and resentment with Loki and Thor. Loki learning that he was adopted simply sent it into overdrive.

    I think the movie’s message on adoption is “don’t wait until they are adults before you drop tell them they are adopted”.

    The “adopted” line was a joke about Thor, after defending Loki as his brother, trying to distance himself from Loki’s more violent actions. Also, Thor still does try to reason with him in the climactic fight.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      All very true.

      In Thor, the adoptive family is loving and pretty good and the adoptive son the one with issues.

      I think one theme in both movies is that Loki’s behavior is a betrayal of the brother relationship. They’re still brothers, no matter what Loki thinks about his adoption, and his bad behavior (trying to kill Thor and all) only hurts more because they’re brothers.

      So, in that sense, it’s very pro-adoption.


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