• Thu, May 17 2012

People Are Completely Overreacting About The Avengers‘ Adoption Joke

The Avengers adoption joke Loki Thor stupid funnyIf this isn’t a manufactured bit of controversy designed to ride the wave of a recordbreaking movie, then I don’t know what is. An editorial in The Washington Times has called out The Avengers for a “mean and unfunny” joke about adoption, but writer Andrea Poe has completely missed the point.

Poe and other commenters are taking exception with this exchange concerning Thor’s brother Loki:

Black Widow: “[Loki] killed 80 people in two days.”

Thor: ”He’s adopted.”

They claim that this punchline is an attack on adopted children by equating them with death and destruction. Poe reports that parents were upset after taking their kids to see the movie, because their kids came out of the film thinking that adopted kids were somehow bad. She really takes up the campaign, writing,

The hope now is, of course, that enough media attention has been brought to this unfortunate episode in this blockbuster movie that such blatant ignorance and bias won’t turn up again.

Sadly, that hope is unlikely to match reality anytime soon. Far more likely, this line is likely to be joined by many other offensive, stupid, callous jokes in future.

Hollywood has increasingly become a place filled with writers who are insulated and isolated from mainstream America and who find sophomoric bullying humor that wouldn’t be tolerated in a middle school as a pathetic excuse for a career.

Sounds like someone’s got a chip on her shoulder. There’s even a petition on Change.org called “Marvel Comics – Apologize to the Adoption Community!” Seriously. Poe goes so far as to suggest that if you replaced “adopted” with “Jewish” or “black,” the joke wouldn’t have made it past the first draft.

That’s true, but there’s a huge chunk of the story that everyone is overlooking: No one has quoted the movie correctly. Here’s the actual exchange—paraphrased because I saw the movie two weeks ago, but accurate in tone:

Thor: “Don’t go insulting Loki, he’s my brother, we were raised together, etc.”

Black Widow: ”He killed 80 people in two days.”

Thor: “He’s adopted.”

The “he’s adopted” punchline shows us that Thor has enough of a sense of humor to correct himself, and that he’s distancing himself and all of Asgard from Loki’s treachery. If anything, Loki should be celebrated as a nuanced study in the adoption narrative: Partway through Thor, he learns that his father has hidden his true parentage from him, and suffers a crisis of identity from this discovery. Doesn’t sound like the writers glossed over this dramatic arc at all.

Photo: Fanpop

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  • Jenni Maier

    I have an adopted sister and therefore have the SHARPEST eye imaginable for adoption jokes that are in poor taste. This one was not.

    Let’s focus on the fact that magazine articles STILL refer to celebrity kids as adopted if they’re adopted, but not birthed if they’re not adopted.

  • Jess

    These parents clearly need to pay closer attention to the relationship between Thor and Loki: Despite all the terrible things Loki has done, Thor still loves him and doesn’t care they’re not related by blood — he just wants to bring him home and set him straight.

    Maybe instead of bitching about how their kids might perceive something incorrectly and offensively they should take a few minutes and explain the joke to them.

    • Natalie Zutter

      Also, if your kid is young enough to be confused about an adoption joke… is s/he really old enough for an action movie like The Avengers?

  • Cheri

    Me, my brother and my best friend are adopted so I am very, very sensitive to any kind of joke or comment that puts adoption in a bad light. However, this was not one of them. I thought the joke was hilarious. It could only put adoption in a good light, it just shows how fantastic your child will be when they grow up. Anyone? Anyone? What I’m saying is Loki’s awesome and Tom Hiddleston is insanely attractive. Anyways.

    • Natalie Zutter

      That should be the answer to everything–”Tom Hiddleston is insanely attractive. Your argument is invalid.”

  • whiteroses

    Personally, that was one of my favorite parts of the movie- mostly because I thought it showed the depth of Thor and Loki’s relationship. Even though Thor is going to have to kick the ever-loving crap out of Loki, and he knows it, he still loves his brother. Loki’s adoption doesn’t matter to Thor.

    The writer is correct, too. When Loki found out that he’d never been told he was adopted, it completely destroyed him. Besides- the writers are staying true to the canonical relationship between Loki and Thor, and making a bunch of comic book fans mad is probably worse than making parents angry.

    Instead of letting children think adopted children are “bad”, maybe parents could, I don’t know, explain the joke before getting on their high horse?

  • Amy

    I followed the link the original article and skimmed the comments. The author is sure taking a beating, but most of it is warranted in my opinion.

    From one poster: Even worse youve introduced the world to the “The Subsitution Game”. Watch me play:
    “I dont like working with him because he’s mean”
    Now lets play your game
    “I dont like working with him because he’s an african american”.
    The fact that you actually thought this “game” made any kind of logical sense, scares me in a way you cant understand.

  • Natalie Zutter

    Worse were the racist Japanese jokes in Battleship, but no one’s challenged those. (Yet.)

  • Ben

    It’s not a joke, because Loki was, in a way, adopted. You all over react, throwing insults and incorrect dumb shout-outs to throw down perfectly good movies!!!! You all stink!!!!!! Horribly!!!!!!!!!

  • Eleanor

    Are you kidding me! Why can’t people go to see a great action movie without trying to find the one “flaw” And why would you even take your kid to an action movie like that, if they’re too young to get the joke! Come on Poe it has nothing to do with “atacting adopted children” I mean my dad saw the Avengers (who by the way, dosen’t like superhero movies at all) and he laughed so hard during that line, and oh by the way he was adopted!!!!!!!

  • harley

    Is this person for real ? Honestly it was a joke and and hilarious I don’t think children are being upset by this I think it might be the uptight parent who’s uncomfortable and they would cause the children to think something wrong not the guy on the screen its a movie for entertainment if ur that sensitive they have some disney movies u could watch but I’m sure they would find something wrong with them to. Hmmm maybe they should just stay home

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  • Somebody

    Dumb joke, it offended people who value adopted family members. The joke infers that by being adopted he’s less of a family member: if you don’t understand why people are upset at this you’re not that smart…

  • pj

    I am adopted and have a beautiful adopted daughter. I laughed out loud at the joke. People these days are raising children with no backbone or sense of humor.