My adoration of Steven Grant Rogers started about four years ago when I watched Captain America: The First Avenger with several of my girlfriends for my sixteenth birthday. From my previous blog posts you can probably figure out why I like Steve – he’s a good friend, he’s loyal, and supposedly bound by a duty to a higher purpose. Since that birthday J (yes, the same one from my Broadway post) and I have consistently seen the Cap movies together. She was even the first person to show me Iron Man around four years after it was initially released. Her reviews of the Avengers movies are mixed – she was not a fan of Age of Ultron but I did not mind the film. It definitely does not compare to the intensity of any of the Cap movies though. Naturally, given our history I invited J to see Captain America: Civil War with me last Friday but, alas life got in the way and she had to decline. In her place, My dad offered to attend the showing with me for an impromptu bonding session and likely because the show I attended was at 2200hrs. I was hyped up with excitement as I finished my Friday work shift and headed home.
At home I changed into a long sleeved Avengers shirt I bought at Hot Topic the week before and then about an or so hour before I was set to leave I received a text, “What theatre are you seeing the movie at??” It was from J and she was free from her former obligations! I did a little happy dance around the room as I called her to confirm that a) she was indeed free to come with me and b) would she drive us? The answers were yes, and yes! After asking my dad whether he still wanted to come with us – he offered his ticket to J instead – insisting, correctly, that I would likely want to see it again anyways. Soon afterwards J picked me up and we were off accompanied, or as my mother put it chaperoned, by Stevie, a small plushy she had purchased for me in the lead up to the film’s release on Thursday, May 5th, 2016.
Now, I started this post with a brief discussion of my admiration for Steve Rogers, but I must admit in terms of Civil War I am Team Iron Man all the way. I had a sneaking suspicion when the first trailer came out months ago that I would feel this way, despite my favourite character being on Team Cap. (FYI: It’s Bucky, not Cap). These feelings were confirmed as the film progressed from BERLIN to NEW YORK and other places. While J enjoyed the various titles that adorned the screen throughout I felt as if they were better suited to a music video than a movie. However, J did point out that at least we were always aware of where the characters were rather than catching up with them halfway through a battle sequence. I want to keep this piece spoiler free so I will not delve into the intricate details of the storyline but what I can say is I was surprised. For months I was preparing for the demise of one of my favourite characters but it never happened. *Historically, my favourite characters either die or turn out to be evil, or both. There are very few exceptions to this rule.* Each fight scene made me clench my fists waiting with baited breath for the moment the character would breathe no more but it never happened. Perhaps that’s why I felt that the film was both climactic and yet anticlimactic. On the plus side, there were some major points of plot and character development throughout the film. I felt more deeply connected to the characters in this piece than in the Avengers movies. While I am partial to the humorous domesticity that Whedon brings to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) I always feel that the Avengers is so lighthearted because of how dark the other movies in the franchise are by comparison. The Iron Man series explores alcoholism, depression, and PTSD while the Cap films delve into issues of morality and corruption; those are heavy topics. The moments of humour I found in this film were made more poignant and funny because of the darker backdrop the jokes were set against. *Also, just as a rule Spiderman’s appearances and jokes were always on point.
At its core the plot is about dependence versus independence. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” is a quotation often attributed to Thomas Jefferson and even if the founding father did not write it the phrase has great relevance with regards to Cap 3. Part of the reason why I am Team Iron Man is that I feel very strongly about proper regulation and security enforcement. While not perfect by any means, rules can certainly help in the avoidance of tragedies. When Cap had the gall to say, “The safest hands are still are our own,” I found myself nodding along at Rhodey’s later comment about Steve’s arrogance.
On one hand I get it. I understand the desire to make your own decisions and to have the ability to regulate your own actions but laws exist for a reason. Whether you’re a superhero or an ordinary person you need to be subject to something greater than yourself because if you aren’t you’re likely to fall into the trap of believing yourself to be God. *Note: How this is exactly why Ultron happened in Avengers 2.* No one person has the right, in my mind, to decide the fates of twenty people let alone thousands. That’s why we have governments full of people with different ideas and thoughts – to leave no stone unturned. There will always be a path not taken but I would prefer a path that has a sound decision making process and a series of checks and balances to the word of one man, even if that man was Captain America. Personally, I admire the UN in many ways, even though one of my teacher’s in high school often called it a paper tiger. I think that there’s a lot of good in an organization that is by no means perfect but is striving for a greater good and if we lived in the MCU I would endorse the Accords. As Natasha says when the team is debating the Accords, “At least we could keep one hand on the wheel,” implying that the paperwork could help steer the Avengers clear of tragic situations.
I could not shake the feeling as I left the movie theatre that the outcome of the movie was unnecessary. Heck, even Bucky saw it when he told Steve he wasn’t sure he was worth all the craziness, and, as much as I don’t want Bucky prosecuted for what he did as the Winter Soldier because he was one hundred percent brainwashed by Hydra, he has a point. I would like to think that this problem could have been talked out among the Avengers because in my mind they were a team, united together to help the world. But divided they fell. I think that’s what hurts the most – that they are now definitely divided for the foreseeable future. I cannot help but feel heartbroken that the camaraderie of the Avengers was so easily broken – that they could not compromise, that they wouldn’t even listen to each other. This film wasn’t so much a civil war as it was a break up. Sure, there were battles and cutting words but at its heart Captain America: Civil War was about a relationship that just could not, or would not, weather the obstacles life put in its way. The Super Secret Boy (/Girl) Band is no longer together but it did not have to be that way, and that hurts.
*Stay alert for Part 2 where I will dissect the relationships in the movie.