Jun Woo Kang, News Writer
SPOILER ALERT. This is a review of the recently released Marvel Studios Film, “Captain America: Civil War”, and it may contain major spoilers. I have mentioned this in the beginning, therefore if you still haven’t watched the film, don’t blame me if you happen to accidentally read this writing and have your excitement of this new movie disappear.
There is an overarching theme in all superhero movies. During the combat between the enormous villain and the heroes, there are always a few buildings flying around in the background, and cars travel in the air so easily as if they are bullets. Typically, these movies come to a close, when the gigantic evil villain is dramatically defeated, and they end up destroying a large chunk of a city. It is the same for the Hulk-less Avengers in “Civil War”. The solution the United Nations suggests to prevent these immense scars that the heroes leave in the cities: Lagos, Nigeria, Washington D.C., New York, and Sokovia (a fictional city in Marvel Cinematic Universe in Eastern Europe) is the Sokovia Accords — an agreement to make all the superheroes government officials, restricting their actions only under the command of the government.
Having watched the movie, though the Sokovia Accord begins the conflict between the heroes, I would not say this political debate is the major conflict in the movie as discussed in the trailers and different movie reviews. The fact that Winter Soldier gets accused for murdering the King of Wakanda, and how Captain America, who is certain that his friend Bucky isn’t the actual criminal, decides to protect him and fight against Iron Man and his followers who finds Winter Soldier highly suspicious play a key role in the overall battle between “Team Captain America” and “Team Iron Man”.
Speaking of Iron Man, he concedes his hilarious jokes and witticism he showed in the ‘Avengers’ and ‘Iron Man’ series to Spider-Man — who appears as a high school sophomore in the movie. Spider-Man seems to have a motor attached to his mouth — he simply cannot stop talking even in front of the adult superheroes coming at him. What replaces Tony Stark’s witticism in “Civil War” is the feeling of guilt — a sense of guilt for all the lost civilians while the Avengers were wildly battling against the villains. This is depicted clearly when a woman from the United States’ State Department tells Tony how she blames him for her son’s death in Sokovia — who was only volunteering there. This type of remorseful mentality is behind Iron Man’s stance on Sokovia Accords — which was to support it.
It isn’t only Tony Stark who feels a sense of guilt in the movie. Scarlet Witch never feels free from letting the civilians, who were near one of the Hydra members wearing an explosive belt, pass away. Winter Soldier feels immense guilt for becoming a murdering weapon when the separate consciousness, which Hydra planted in his brain, dominates him. In “Civil War”, this psychological motive of guilt plays a significant role in the heroes’ actions.
Another motive that leads the plot of the movie is ‘revenge’. The antipathy that the family of the victims from the battles feel to the heroes is revealed in the conversation between Tony Stark and the woman from the State Department, as previously mentioned. The new hero in “Civil War”, Black Panther — who by the way absolutely crushes Iron Man with his wealth — endlessly chases the Winter Soldier for the revenge of the death of his father, the King of Wakanda.
Moreover, the theme that goes against this idea of revenge is loyalty and friendship. Regardless of how much Iron Man finds the Winter Soldier suspicious for being responsible for the Wakandan King’s death, Captain America continues to believe in his friend, Bucky’s innocence. Plus, he joins with Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Falcon to even go against the government’s demand to arrest Winter Soldier. That said, the combats between “Team Cap” and “Team Iron Man” isn’t just about Iron Man’s attempts to get rid of his guilt for numerous deaths, it also expresses Captain America’s unchanging trust for his old friend.
The superheroes, divided into two “teams”, seriously fight against each other. The movie does not follow that cliche-plot where the heroes recognize their common enemy after the conflicts within themselves, and decide to reconcile and fight together. You may support Captain America, or Iron Man.
The movie pursues the genre of Psychological Thriller, while it beautifully mixes tension and typical Marvel’s humors — it does a great job of adjusting intensity. For example, behind the intense battle scenes, Tony Stark’s mother, playing piano and singing a classic song, “Try to Remember” appears, and follows the scene Android Vision cooks for the sorrowful Scarlet Witch. Captain America lets go of his past lover and falls in love with her nephew. Black Panther shows a warm relationship with his father, engaging the audience.
The rivalry between Captain America and Iron Man can be interpreted as a representation of the United States’ Republican and Democratic Party. The Republican Party, which values discipline and order, is described through Iron Man and the fellow heroes, who agree to the Sokovia Accords, while on the other hand, “Team Cap” may be a representation of the Democratic Party, which values freedom and individual rights more.
Captain America is illustrated very differently in “Civil War.” Rather than being a part of the government, as a leader of the superheroes, he contemplates about the correct attitude as a hero who is responsible for the peace of the world. In this process, he strictly separates when to withdraw and when to fight until the end, and he continues to believe in the idea that a hero should not use his or her power for a private use.
Iron Man, on the other hand, is revealed with his trauma about his parents’ death. Unlike Captain America, Iron Man is a hero born with great health and a wealthy family — being raised without any major conflicts — therefore, he is known as one of the most “confident” or perhaps “arrogant” heroes. However, in “Civil War”, he shows his human-like characteristics such as his emotional pains and vulnerable heart. Like Batman and Superman, Iron Man also loses his temper with matters related to his parents.
Ultimately, is the leadership of Captain America necessary for the peace of the world? Captain America, who became a hero with his mentality and spirit, even meets a new lover in this movie, getting into a more stable state. He leads the movie with his loyalty and rational mind, allowing the audience to know that he, the most “American hero”, is the “captain” of all heroes.
While the idea of a Marvel- DC rivalry has been overstated — as in the comics, there’s room for both — the former hurried the process in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” while Marvel assiduously built up to it. The result is a film that honors its comic-book origins while feeling like a massive spectacle. Moreover, “Civil War” touches on darker thematic elements without becoming grim or weighted down by the density of its mythology. That said, when it comes to juggling multiple superheroes in a single movie, Marvel’s latest, “Civil War” comes close to setting the standard.