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‘Avengers: Infinity War’: What parents need to know

When 2018 draws to close, it’s likely that “Avengers: Infinity War” will rank at the top of the year’s box office chart. It’s easy to see why as this, the 19th film set in the Marvel universe, features a who’s who of superheroes: Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and many, many others. After 10 years of buildup, the Avengers and their allies must finally face the mighty, planet-conquering purple powerhouse known as Thanos.

The action figures and Lego sets are out, the promotional push is in full swing, and kids are hungry to start the summer movie season. There are, however, a number of reasons why parents may want to hit the breaks.

First off, is it any good?

In most ways, “Avengers: Infinity War” is Marvel-by-numbers. It is loud, full of quips, far too busy, and pretty gosh-darn enjoyable. This is part one of a two-film saga, and as such, it lacks the satisfying finish of Marvel entries like “Black Panther” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” But it’s certainly entertaining popcorn fare.

A guide to 'Avengers: Infinity War'

What’s the ideal viewing age? And what ages should avoid seeing this?

Many kids younger than age 10 or so have seen previous Marvel efforts. If they have, chances are there is nothing in “Infinity War” they haven’t already experienced: some non-F-word swearing, a few brutal deaths (one just minutes into the film), some modest innuendo, and much talk of Earth’s destruction.

This means the film is a bit dark for kids 9 and younger. Compared to the first Avengers entry, and follow-up “Age of Ultron,” “Infinity” is a more somber, grim affair. I would advise parents with young children to see it first, and if it seems too rough, hold off the wee ones for later home viewing. (That’s the plan for my 7-year-old.)

Is it really 149 minutes long?

Oh yes. And this, more than the content, is one of the main reasons why “Infinity War” is a tough call for parents. It’s a long time for kids to sit, and the cross-cutting between characters and locations might be a tad confusing. Whatever one’s age, when the end credits roll it’s hard not to feel a bit achy and sick of sitting.

Are there any positive messages?

One of the nicer elements of the Marvel films -- and quite unlike the ugly, pitch-black DC films like “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League” -- is the spirit of camaraderie. That paragon of positivity, Captain America, explains that the Avengers “don’t trade lives,” and this concept is one that parents can take to heart. In “Infinity War,” the life of each member of the team matters.

Great - but will kids be upset at the conclusion?

Probably, and adults may feel the same. Without venturing into spoiler territory, “Infinity War” ends on a downbeat, “Empire Strikes Back”-esque cliffhanger. And while we can guess that many of the impacted characters will return in part two, kids may be stunned at who is “gone,” so to speak, at film’s end. Parents should be ready to explain that part two should fix things.

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