The Avengers Apparently Waged A War On Adopted Kids

    May 15, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Has everyone had the chance to see The Avengers yet? I sure hope so – it’s pure escapism at its finest. Critics and fans agree that it’s a must-see for the summer, so I won’t take any more time participating in the crowded online circlejerk.

We all know that the film shattered box office records in its opening weekend, and its second weekend in theaters wasn’t that bad either. If the ending scenes didn’t give enough of a hint that a sequel is in the works, Disney has already confirmed it. Tony Stark is awesome, Scarlett Johansson tight suit, HULK SMASH – ok all of this is awesome. But there’s a small chink in Captain America’s shield, if you will, and it comes from a group of adoption advocates upset with a particular joke from the film.

I’m sure you remember what joke I’m referring to. I mean, you must have been so overwhelmigly offended that you’ve spent the last few days steaming about it. Ok, just in case you let a harmless joke go by and lose itself in the perpetual intensity of the film as a whole, I’ll remind you [possible spoilers, but not really].

During one of the rare but brilliant comic interludes in the action, Black Widow makes a point to say that the film’s villain, Loki, had “killed 80 people in two days.” Avenger Thor (and Loki’s brother) quickly replies that “he’s adopted.” You know, to separate himself from the bad actions of his brother in a lighthearted, harmless way…oh wait controversy.

An official petition on change.org has been created by Jamie Burke, longtime About.com “Deafness guide.” That petition demands that Marvel apologize to the adoption community for the joke. Here are some snippets from the petition:

Marvel Comics – with one line that you carelessly failed to edit out of the script for the Avengers movie, you have insulted adopted children, adult adoptees, and adoptive parents!

Sooo..according to your scriptwriter, the fact he was adopted is the reason he is a bad guy!

Being adopted is NOT something to use for the butt of jokes! Marvel, immediately cease using adoption as the butt of jokes AND issue a public apology to the adoption community!

Furthermore, you have to consider how children think. A child doesn’t know the history of Thor and Loki. Plus, a child does not understand context the same way adults do. A child who is adopted only hears those lines above. So the child thinks to themselves, “I’m adopted. The bad guy was adopted too. Does that mean I am bad too?” One parent actually posted a comment along these lines on a certain forum, stating that their adopted child had actually made a very similar statement after seeing the movie. This statement is now posted under petition updates.

The petition also directs you to some bloggers who are incensed about the joke as well. One blogger writes:

Thor’s flippant “He’s adopted” comment could easily be better. Most likely a better line would have been “He’s my brother, though he was adopted and his background was from those who are worse than us.” Shows his love, but also his distaste for Loki’s actions. Probably would have taken all of a minute to deliver that line. For those who have or haven’t seen the Thor movie, that’s still a good and neutral line.

When describing their reaction to the scene, another blogger writes:

I missed the next 15 minutes of the movie because I was seething. Joking about adoption isn’t funny. Joking about being adopted isn’t funny. Making fun of a late discovery adoptee is especially not funny.

There’s also a thread on the Disney forums if you’re interested.

One parent says that his daughter didn’t get the joke. Here’s her line of thinking, according to him:

Are people laughing because they think adopted kids are bad? Am I bad?

I’ve prepared myself for the accusations of insensitivity, so here goes:

Really, guys? Really?

So, in writing The Avengers, Joss Whedon took the time to make a sweeping statement: Being adopted means you’re a bad guy. You’re sure that this insignificant line couldn’t have simply been Thor trying to differentiate himself from the appallingly terrible decisions of his brother.

Or, you know, a joke.

I’ll save everyone the broad, sweeping generalizations like “we’re all giant crybabies,” because some things really are offensive and it’s true that some people can be insensitive to certain groups – even if they aren’t actively trying.

But all this kind of shallow demand does is lessen the impact of the truly insensitive stuff that people say everyday. If people keep crying wolf when it comes to taking offense, it will just continue to dilute our collective response when someone is genuinely hurt by something in our media or pop culture.

Apparently, some in the adoption community tend to agree:

“As an adoptee (now an adult) I would like to add my voice to this and say that you do not speak for me. You do not represent me, and I find this kind of evocation of nameless children for your own petty and bitter purposes to be vile exploitation,” writes Shannon Cuttle on the petition page. “I find this humorless attitude, which serves no purpose but to calm the egos of insecure people who have no concept of context, greatly offensive.”

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that an adoption joke has caused controversy. Last year, a North Carolina dad publicly criticized the game Portal 2 for a few choice in-game quips. So this isn’t an isolated event. Hell, who am I kidding. People are going to get offended about anything and everything. But this outrage is so magnificently misguided that it stands out. I mean, it makes going full retard seem like a prosecutable hate crime.

Maybe I just fail to see the harm where there is some. If you found this joke offensive and truly believe that the filmmakers owe the adoption community an apology, please sound off below.

  • KryptoniteBalls

    I’m offended that people would have this opinion. I’m also offended that people didn’t even understand the point of the scene. Dialogue rarely is spoken to completely explain a thought, mostly we infer thoughts with with few words. “He’s adopted” isn’t saying that he’s evil because of the adoption, but stating he comes from a different lineage so technically he isn’t part of the Odinson bloodline…

    And now I’m offended I had to make this explanation.

  • Mara
  • Eris

    I would like to point out to readers that the Disboards are not an official Disney forum lest someone think that posters there represent Disney in any capacity. The Dis is a forum about Disney as it’s main topic and many many others.

  • ScottK

    “Maybe I just fail to see the harm where there is some. If you found this joke offensive and truly believe that the filmmakers owe the adoption community an apology, please sound off below. ”

    Seems apparent from reading your article that the only reason you want opinions from others is to mock them. “… this outrage is so magnificently misguided that it stands out. I mean, it makes going full retard seem like a prosecutable hate crime.” Misguided, full retard, what sort of comments do you expect in return. The movie MAY have been mildly insulting to some but you are far more insulting than the movie.

    As an adoptee, I can completely understand why one of us would shout “I”M ADOPTED AND NOT OFFENDED”. Saying anything else opens one up to a torrent of insults from people so thin-skinned they have a violent reaction when someone doesn’t enjoy a movie as much as they did. I heard far worse in school 35 years ago and my concern is what very young children will make of what people like you say. The movie is just a movie. They don’t have to live with or go to school with a movie. They do however have to live with and go to school with truly insensitive people such as yourself.

  • MTR

    Must have been a DC fan.

  • Eric

    Whew. Thank goodness you’re here to referee the argument, Josh. With your wide-ranging experience dealing with adoption and the fact that you aren’t personally offended, I guess the rest of us can just bugger off, then.

    FWIW, it’s my daughter who asked those “Am I bad?” questions above. Some adoptees don’t seem to have much of an issue with being adopted. Some really, really do. So I guess the answer to your question above is: “Yes, really.”

    For a perspective I myself haven’t ever experienced or really even considered, try this link:


  • Logan

    Eric, not to call you out on your parenting skills, but the Avengers was rated PG-13. if your daughter isn’t old enough to get the JOKE (nothing more) than you shouldn’t have taken her to go see it. if she is asking if she is a bad person because of that one line, then the fault is not with the movie, it is with the parent, with you. you have given your daughter the impression that she is a bad person for being adopted. i don’t know who you raised her but i know how you should have. try love next time. love enough not to take her to a movie she inst old enough to see or understand.

    sincerely, psychology major, and family to numerous adopted members.

  • DinaFelice

    It’s amazing how every single story that I have seen about this has had the same glaring omission and same obvious question. The glaring omission is the line right before Black widow points out how many people Loki killed.

    The obvious question is “Why would Thor randomly bring up that Loki was adopted?” If it was random, then yes, it might be offensive. If it isn’t random, it probably means that the people who feel offended are being kind of thin-skinned.

    Thor: Have a care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.

    Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.

    Thor: He’s adopted.

    Basically, Thor points out that the mere mortals around him should remember before insulting Loki that he and Loki are brothers.

    Frankly, Thor mentioned that they were brothers several times during the movie while trying to make peace. Loki was the one who rejected the connection. To ignore the larger relationship and to take this one quip out of context is sad.

    And if adopted children are asking that if one bad adoptee means that they too are bad, their parents need to IMMEDIATELY start having a conversation about prejudice, individuals and groups. Do they also ask if all Russians are mobsters? Do they ask if all little Indian girls lie for money? Do they ask if all black people wear eyepatches and/or are involved with shadowy government agencies?

    If they are confused, there is a much bigger problem going on.

  • Ali

    I simply wanted to leave a message supporting DinaFelice and Logan’s comments. I would also like to add on that there are many things that can be taken wrong in the film. To point out one, Black Widow is an attractive, scantly clad woman who lies to get what she wants; that is offensive to the feminist. However, the film was not based off of these offensive jokes and subjects. It was based off of a group of four individuals that were considered rejects of society coming together to get over their differences and save the world. Things will offend you. There is always something that’ll offend another. However, it’s the ability to acknowledge when a personal attack is being made and when it is not. Being offended is alright; making a company/director/script writer make a public apology to the world because you don’t agree with their humour is not alright. Lastly, for the parents complaining about their kids asking questions: Just because you don’t want to sit down and explain an adult concept to your kid after taking them to a mature movie, doesn’t mean everyone else has to work around you to ensure that this is prevented. It’s like having your kid watch A Game of Thrones, and getting upset with HBO because they want to know why women sell their bodies suddenly.

  • Jordana

    I just found a quick laugh, especially after seeing thor. Goes to show you can’t do anything these days without offending someone. Sure I feel for adoptees, but, seriously… Idon’twanttoliveinthisworld.jpg

  • Gontear

    Why did you even take your child to a movie where people shoot each other, an archer shoots an exploding arrow at a god’s face, and a god uses a hammer to try to kill an american soldier….

    This simple question can be followed up by another. Why are you projecting your shortcomings as a parent by nitpicking a movie that your child shouldn’t be seeing in the first place? Why are you seeking the easy way out from sitting your child down and discussing adult concepts he or she does not understand?

    It’s so easy to project. So easy when you don’t want to take responsibility.
    Yes, I do feel for your child. But not because of the movie’s joke.

  • misstori

    People are too sensitive. It was a joke. Perhaps people also have not explained to their children who Captain America was and what he historically represented during his time. I think that would bring up more of a possibly awkward conversation than one joke would. The movie was amazing and I think this one was a winner. I’m feeling the people complaining about this are the same people who analyze the Lion King for sexual innuendos and make waves. It’s cinema about super heroes with violence and fighting. It’s just not fit for all children.

  • Emily

    The bottom line is: it’s a joke. Thor was saying he and Loki are brothers. But when Black Window points out how many people he killed Thor responds “He’s adopted” because he’s saying they’re not related through blood and won’t get grouped with him. People shouldn’t take it do hard because it’s a JOKE. Plus you’re kids might not understand it cause its rated PG-13

  • Marie

    I’m quite dissapointed that people are complaining about this line. If you have seen the film Thor you would understand more that the “He’s adopted” line is not implying that all adopted people are bad. It is implying that Loki is adopted and Thor does not particularly want to be grouped with him when he has killed so many people. The Avengers is certified as a 12A, implying that very young children would not understand things in the film. I don’t see how the “He’s adopted” line came to be under so much fire. All these opinions that the line is offensive is stemming from the fact that people don’t understand the joke or cannot be bothered to explain it to their children. Just to settle differences, I’m not aiming to offend any parents here.