Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a teenager enrolled in Midtown Science High School. Since the death of his parents in a plane crash, Peter has been brought up by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter has a huge crush on classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
Peter has questions about his parents’ death. In his uncle’s attic, Peter discovers secret research files together with a photograph of his father’s partner, Dr Curt Conner (Rhys Ifans). The files and photograph lead Peter to pharmaceutical company Oscorp.
Peter bluffs his way into the Oscorp building and a meeting with Dr Conner, who is an amputee. Peter ends up in a laboratory filled with genetically modified spiders and gets bitten. On the way home, Peter suddenly begins to develop spider-like superpowers. He is faster, stronger, more agile and can climb walls like a spider. Peter begins to practise these new powers, but tragedy strikes when Peter’s Uncle Ben is shot and killed by a thief.
At Oscorp, Dr Conner has been making a serum that he hopes will enable the human body to heal itself of any illness and even grow new limbs. Because of pressure from his employer to test his serum, Dr Conner injects himself and things quickly go wrong. Conner mutates into a giant lizard-man and goes on a rampage. He causes mayhem and destruction through busy city streets. Peter/Spider-Man must risk everything to stop Lizard-Man.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Superpowers; genetic mutation; revenge
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
The Amazing Spider-Man contains highly stylised superhero action violence, which is sometimes brutal. It also shows blood and gore and some schoolyard bullying. For example:
- In a schoolyard scene an athletic teenage boy holds a smaller boy upside down over a table. He rams the boy face first into a plate of food. When Peter Parker intervenes, the bully attacks Peter. He brutally punches Peter in the face and body several times and then kicks him in the stomach as he lies on the ground.
- Peter Parker humiliates a school bully in front of classmates by taking a basketball away and refusing to give it back. Peter grabs the bully by the throat and lifts him up into the air, pinning him against a school locker.
- Peter’s Uncle Ben is shot while trying to stop a thief who is running away from the police. In an emotionally intense scene, Uncle Ben lies bleeding on the footpath. Peter, who is very upset, kneels over his dying uncle.
- Lizard-Man throws cars over the side of a bridge while people scream and run in terror. Spider-Man rescues the cars by spinning webs that leave the cars dangling from the bridge. After a suspended car with a small boy trapped inside catches on fire, Spider-Man climbs into the burning car, calms the terrified boy and rescues him.
- The movie shows several intense and brutal battles between Spider-Man and Lizard-Man. They use their superpowers to punch, kick and throw each other against and through walls. Lizard-Man uses his claws to slash at Spider-Man. At one point Lizard-Man uses a long jagged piece of metal as a sword, slashing and stabbing at Spider-Man. He wraps his tail around Spider-Man’s neck and tries to strangle him. Lizard-Man mixes chemicals together to make a bomb and throws the bomb at Spider-Man. The explosion rips a hole in a wall. Later we see Peter’s chest with several large bloody claw-like gashes. There are also some bloody cuts on his face and neck.
- A policeman in a helicopter shoots Spider-Man with a taser-like weapon. This makes Spider-Man lose consciousness and fall from a great height to land on the roof of a car.
- In a stylised action fight between Spider-Man and several policemen, Spider-Man kicks and punches the policemen and throws them through the air until only one policeman is left standing.
- In one emotionally intense and brutally violent scene, Lizard-Man kills a policeman by punching him in the chest with his clawed hand. Lizard-Man’s claws poke through the policeman’s back, and there is some blood on the wounds. The scene later shows the dying policeman lying on his back with bloody scratches on his face and a blood-soaked chest. Peter/Spider-Man cries over the dead man and then screams out in anguish.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:
- Peter stands in a laboratory that contains thousands of genetically modified spiders spinning webs from machines. When Peter touches the web, the spiders fall all over him. One of the spiders crawls over Peter’s neck and then bites him.
- When Dr Conner changes into Lizard-Man, he grabs his head between his hands in pain. His hands mutate into lizard feet, and scales form on his face. When the change is finished, Dr Conner has turned into a scary, giant lizard-man that walks on its hind legs.
- A genetically modified mouse looks like a giant, lizard-like rat. The monster mouse gets its face and head covered in blood when it eats some type of animal flesh.
- Several policemen change into lizard-like creatures. Long tongues flick out from their mouths.
- Spider-Man breaks off Lizard-Man’s tail, but a new one grows.
- Lizard-Man’s clawed hand is covered in liquid nitrogen. His clawed fingers freeze and break off.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
This movie has some sexual references. For example:
- Peter flirts with Gwen in several scenes.
- Gwen gets her father to go away by suggesting that she is behaving in a strange way because of her period. She mentions ‘cramps, lots of blood and vomiting’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie shows some use of substances. For example:
- Several scenes show Dr Conner injecting himself with the serum that changes him into Lizard-Man. When he changes back into a human, he gets aggressive and paranoid and hears voices inside his head.
- Lizard-Man sprays police with a green gas. They cough and choke on the fumes and then change into lizard-like creatures.
- People drink wine with dinner.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Gwen wears a short, tight-fitting skirt.
- Peter Parker accidentally rips off a woman’s blouse, which shows her bra.
- Peter and Gwen kiss passionately.
The following products are shown or used in this movie: Sony products, Nike shoes and Microsoft’s Bing browser.
There is also a lot of Spider-Man merchandise on the market.
This movie has some occasional low-level coarse language, name-calling and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Amazing Spider-Man is a superhero action adventure based on Marvel comic book characters. It’s suited to an older adolescent and adult audience because it is emotionally intense and has violent and disturbing scenes. This also makes it unsuitable for younger children who might be attracted by the Spider-Man character they are used to seeing as a toy or fancy dress costume.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- People who have great talents have a responsibility to use them to help others.
- Keeping secrets often comes at a cost.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include these:
- Responsibility: Peter’s Uncle Ben tries to make Peter responsible for the consequences of his actions. Peter learns that responsibility means fixing problems that his actions have caused.
- Selflessness, compassion and empathy: Peter shows these qualities when he rescues a young boy from a burning car.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:
- the possible consequences of Peter’s irresponsible behaviour in relation to his Aunt May
- the meaning of responsibility when Peter uses his superpowers
- the real-life consequences of vigilante-style revenge.