Kung Fu Panda 2: Movie Discussion
By: Stacey Tuttle
We (me and the three kids I was hanging out with for the afternoon) were hiking to a cool little lake hidden about 30 minutes straight up into the mountains when the storm hit. I don’t mind the rain, but it was lightning as well, so we turned and ran back down the mountain and quickly made up a plan B – how about Kung Fu Panda 2?! Now, I had already seen the movie and been thinking about what I would write about it, so I decided to talk to the kids about my ideas. We had such a fun conversation! And, even more fun was listening to them try to teach to each other what they were learning.
I think, rather than write out my “ideas,” I will instead give you a general summation of our conversation in the hopes that it will encourage you to have these types of conversations with your own kids and friends.
Grayson and Taylor were a little bit ahead of us on down the mountain and Sydney and I were coming quickly, but a little more cautiously down, giving us some time to talk.
Me: Sydney, when we see the movie, you will have to see if you notice which Bible story, (actually there are 2) is kind of hidden in the movie.
Sydney: There’s a Bible story in the movie?
Me: Well, kind of. You see, the best story teller of all times is God. He tells the very best stories. And, the best stories you will ever hear or see are the best because they borrow from God’s best stories. We can’t beat God at telling stories, but we can use his material to tell some great ones ourselves!
Sydney thought about this and asked a few questions which led to an example…the Little Mermaid. I explained how the Little Mermaid is kind of a bad story if you think that Ariel is the heroine. She is disrespectful to her daddy and selfish. She doesn’t like her boundaries or her body and is willing to sacrifice her relationship with her father and her voice/ability to communicate with him just to get what she wants. In fact, she ends up putting her father and the entire undersea kingdom in danger to get what she wants.
BUT, if you look at the story from another perspective, it mirrors a Bible story almost exactly and is quite beautiful. But, you have to see it from the right perspective. Ariel is NOT the heroine of the story. She is the damsel in distress, granted, but it’s a distress of her own doing. The hero of the story is her father. He loves her unconditionally. He sacrifices all he is, even his life, to save his wayward daughter. It is his wisdom and strength that saves her and restores her to a right relationship him himself. Ariel is actually just like Eve! And when you look at it that way, it’s a beautiful story!
Sydney got pretty fired up about that! So much so that when we got back to the car she started trying to explain the concepts to her brothers.
Sydney: Hey guys, did you know that every story has the Bible in it?! And did you know that Ariel is Eve? And did you know that Kung Fu Panda 2 has Bible stories in it too?
Ok – so she wasn’t entirely eloquent or accurate in all that she said, but she’s only in like the fourth grade! I think that kind of passion and excitement about finding the places where our stories mimic God’s story is exciting. It can launch a lifetime of story treasure hunting – searching in every movie, every story, every book, for that treasure, that place where the story of Jesus can somehow be found.
So, my challenge to the kids during the movie was to see if they could identify either of the two Bible stories that were almost identical to the story of Kung Fu Panda 2.
After the movie, the kids weren’t sure. So, I began to help them think it through.
Me: What was the story of Kung Fu Panda?
Kids: He had to fight against the evil Shen?
Me: Yeah – but keep going… What was the story about for Po? It wasn’t just about fighting evil, was it?
Kids: Well, no. He was trying to find out about his childhood and where he came from.
Me: Good! Tell me more.
Kids: He was adopted.
Kids: Shen killed his parents and their village.
Me: Good!!! But again – tell me why did Shen do that?
Kids: Hmmm…. I don’t know. Oh yeah – there was a prophecy or something. Shen was told that he would be defeated by a black and white warrior – a panda. So he wanted to kill all the pandas!
Me: That’s right! So how did he get away?
Kids: He was hidden in a basket.
Me: So…um… does that maybe remind you of any stories in the Bible maybe?
Kids: Blank stares…then a slow light begins to dawn, a smirk grows into a smile while the thoughts whirl, and suddenly a burst—Oh wait! Moses! The other two take a little longer to get it, so this one begins to explain with shouts of excitement—Remember? All the babies were being killed because the king of Egypt was afraid that the Israelites would overthrow him. But Moses’ mother put him in a basket in the river and Pharaoh’s daughter found him and adopted him and saved him—Just like Po! Then all the kids begin to squeal!—Oh yeah! I remember! That’s right!!! Then one says, Hey wait a minute, isn’t that kind of like Jesus too?
Kids: Herod heard that a king was born and he was afraid that the king would take over his kingdom, so he also killed all the babies around. But, Jesus and his family escaped. But Jesus wasn’t placed in a basket, so maybe it’s not the same.
Me: No, he wasn’t. But in the case of both Moses and Jesus – what ended up happening?
Kids: When Moses grew up he went against Pharaoh and made him let the Israelites go—just like Pharaoh was afraid of!
Me: That’s right, and what about Jesus?
Kids: Well, he grew up and then he died for our sins.
Me: Right again! So, he wasn’t king quite like King Herod was thinking. And not quite like the Jews were thinking. They were sure hoping Jesus was going to be a ruler on earth. BUT—you know that he is the King of Kings and someday every knee will bow at his feet, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!
When we got home, the kids were so excited to tell their mom about the “hidden Bible stories.” And I strongly suspect, knowing the enthusiastic natures of these three and their tender hearts for Jesus, that they probably had several conversations about it with their friends as well. I think the most exciting thing is watching them learn to look deeper and with more discernment into the things they watch, at such a young age.
I encourage you to look for these opportunities with your own children and even with your friends. They are everywhere if you have the eyes to see!
Additional Questions for Discussion:
- How could you use the theme of option in Kung Fu Panda 2 to help someone understand being adopted as a child of God?
- How did Po find inner peace, and how do we as Christians find inner peace? Where does inner peace really come from?
- In what ways do you see Eastern mysticism in the movie, and how does that conflict with Christianity?
- Po and Shen both had a lot of pain from their pasts. How did the two of them differ in their response to that pain? What were the consequences?