#6 – Captain America: Civil War
#7 – The BFG
#8 – Moana
#9 – Rogue One
#10 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Captain America: Civil War was directed by the Russo Brothers and stars…well… here we go: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Bruhl. *whew*
If you’ve spoken with me at any length about Marvel movies, you’ll know that Captain America isn’t very high on my list of favorite superheroes. He’s the quintessential lawful good character, who never toes over the line, never lets loose a white lie, never turns down an opportunity to do good. At the very beginning of the movie, Steve is forced to begin dealing with the aftermath of his decisions to always do the right thing when innocent people are killed while they’re on a mission. This is the tipping point for the introduction of the Sokovia Accords – the creation of a special group of international leaders to oversee and control all of the Avengers’ missions. Steve vehemently opposes this, seeing echoes of Nazi Germany, while his friend Tony Stark is the poster boy for it, having seen the destruction unchecked supers powers can bring. The strain on their friendship is the focus of the film as Steve begins to shed his “America’s White Knight” armor – not only to control who makes decisions for him, but also to rescue his friend Bucky, who has been framed for the assassination of the King of Wakanda. This movie calls itself a Captain America movie, but it really is the next ensemble film, complete with a fight between almost all the Marvel superheroes we’ve met so far (Hulk and Thor are conspicuously absent, somewhere in Asgaard after the second Avengers movie).
I like this movie because it took a character whose very existence is based on his unwavering service to his country and dedication to doing good and both substantially changed his character and reaffirmed it at the same time. He becomes an enemy of the state, he refuses to be controlled and essentially takes half the Avengers team and forms a splinter group. Unprecedented for the man who truly inspired the United States during WWII. He falls from grace publicly while never falling personally – he still sticks to his ideals and beliefs while sacrificing everything that defined his Avengers character. He’s no longer the icon for the US’s strength, unity, and purity, rejecting it to support those who are in need of help (Bucky), openly calls out his teammates who are making (what he sees as) bad choices, and leaves to maintain his independence from those who would seek to control him for their own ends. He sheds his mantle as America’s hero to embrace the values that originally defined America Timely, in our day and age.
While not explored as in depth as Tony and Steve’s relationship, the choices they make concerning the Sokovia Accords place stress on other relationships. Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Steve as Wilson sees the enduring bond between Steve and Bucky and must find a place for it alongside he and Steve’s brother-bond. The burgeoning romantic relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch as they find themselves on opposing sides – both newly added to the Avengers and processing not only their new roles, but how their powers work. And the mysterious but incredibly strong friendship between Hawkeye and Black Widow – tested but still strong throughout the entire film – Hawkeye straight up saying he’s only on Steve’s side because Steve called before Tony did.
I think this film is interesting. It came out before our politics got really incredibly insane with an unqualified leader with murky loyalties and a desire to control everything. It’s easy to say “Oh, Tony would be on this side and Steve this side” and leave it at that. But beyond this, it’s more important to look at how each character had to examine their ideals and decide where they stood, especially as the fallout started hitting. There wasn’t a clear right side and a wrong side in this battle, which I hope was the point of the film. Nobody won. Everyone was hurt. And everyone was weaker because of where the film was ended. I’m deeply interested in seeing what happens in the next Avengers movie, and have some pretty complex theories about it if you’d ever like to talk about them. And just to be clear, I never really get this deep about films in real life…I mostly just enjoy a good superhero flick. This definitely qualifies.