The Avengers & Adoption


The Avengers, written, directed and produced by Joss Whedon, contains an important storyline about adopton. The film tells the story of how the Avengers come together as a team to fight Loki, Thor’s adopted brother. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is known by his fans for his use of wordplay, especially the classic one-liner that sticks with you. Unfortunately, this style led the movie to contain a quip against adopted children.

In an early scene in the movie, where Thor confronts his adopted brother Loki, there is a conversation that could be almost touching, where Loki reveals that he never truly felt like he was part of the family. That Odon was Thor’s father and that he felt he was in Thor’s shadow. Loki’s feelings speak to every adopting parents worst nightmare – will my adopted child feel like they belong?

In the conversation, Thor stands by his brother, insisting that they grew up together, that they are indeed brothers and equals. What could have turned into a poignant commentary about the isolation of the adopted child, of all of us, and how it can drive us to make horrible mistakes, instead was later fully undercut. In this scene, the Black Widow questions how a member of Thor’s family could have done such a thing. Thor’s response is to shrug and laugh, saying, "He’s adopted?"

This one-liner is all too typical in movies and in everyday life. The statement, "he’s adopted" is an insult, used to explain an individual’s flaws. While Whedon should be applauded for including the reality of adoption in a fictional story line, the writer/director should be held accountable to continuing negative stereotypes about adoption in families.

Throughout the movie the Avengers struggle to come together as a team. Isolation is actually a theme with all of the characters. All of them have gone seperate ways, all of them have been hurt by those close to them, all of them have experienced deep loss, and all of them have done horrible things they cannot face. The shame and isolation in each character is palpable. And yet, it is a subject matter left almost wholy untouched by the movie.

However, the apparent plans for a sequel offer an opportunity for Joss Whedon and his ability to develop amazing character arcs to close the gap, bringing this theme into explicit awareness. He has the opportunity to explore how the need for attachment and for belonging is a basic drive for human survival, that even heroes cannot rise above.


MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.