Like I’ve said before, I don’t put the ‘Mormon’ in The Geeky Mormon very much, but last week in one of my Sunday meetings we had a discussion on people in the scriptures who play supporting roles. The message was that the part that every person plays in God’s plan is important, even if compared to others’ parts it appears minor. I went home and thought about characters from my favorite books, movies and TV shows that play important supporting roles and, perhaps, deserve a little more credit than they normally get. If most of these heroes have been recognized by their fandoms, then they are worth mentioning again. The characters that speak to our hearts, no matter how big or small a role they play, are the ones who make a difference.
I have been waiting a little while before I wrote anything about Captain America: Civil War, in order to give everyone an opportunity to see the film without spoilers. However, I am sure that there are still quite a few people who have not been able to see it yet for any number of reasons. So, be warned. This post is going to have spoilers in it. I am not going out of my way to throw in a ton of spoilers, but I am not going to avoid them either. So, if you have not seen the film, and you are trying to go in fresh and spider free, then skip this post for now, but come back later. I’ll put the read more tag here, so as long as you don’t click on it, you will avoid having any major plot points revealed to you. Come back, though, and read this when you have seen the film.
“Where are the ladies?” Maria Hill teasingly asks at the Avengers Tower Gala in Age of Ultron. Thor explains that Jane Foster is off lecturing the world about the science behind the Convergence. Tony Stark, less convincingly, says that Pepper is off running a company. Why is it I buy Thor’s excuse more than Tony’s? Because at the end of Iron Man 3 Tony and Pepper were very happily together. I can see Jane putting her relationship with Thor on hold for her career. But having been with the MCU since Phase 1, Tony without Pepper is like eating pancakes without syrup: it’s still edible and delicious but it’s not complete. No discussion of Tony’s character is complete without including her (but let’s face it, my last Iron Man post was already pretty crammed). If anything, Pepper’s absence was one of the many reasons Age of Ultron felt “off” to me as a fan.
This is part 3 of the 3-part Road to Civil War series.
WARNING! SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN BELOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The question everyone seems to be asking is why the Civil War installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a Captain America movie? The truth is, we won’t have all the answers until it comes out. However, here are some of my thoughts from what we’ve heard about the plot and based on my observations of Steve Rogers.
Captain America as a Leader
At the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see Captain America squarely in charge of a new Avengers team. The actions of this team under his leadership will lead to the debate over the regulation of superheroes.
Steve Rogers thinks of himself first and foremost as a soldier, but he has always been a leader. I f people expect Captain America to lead them, then he expects them to work like an army does. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he is the unquestioned leader of the Howling Commandos, and even the directors of the Strategic Scientific Reserve look to him to lead the fight against Hydra. We don’t see much of the men who followed him aside from Bucky, but I think he had a good working relationship with these guys that probably set his expectations for similar experiences a little high.
When Captain America goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., the situation is far from ideal. What Steve Rogers expects from those who work with him is trust. He prefers to know what other people are doing and what’s going on, whereas Nick Fury thinks it’s safer to “compartmentalize” assignments and secrets. Finding out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was controlled by Hydra is the last straw. From then on, Captain America doesn’t want to be in a position where he isn’t calling the shots. Being in control is Steve’s way of coping with the fact that he can’t trust other people’s motives.
Cap in the Age of Ultron
Steve decides to take out the remnants of Hydra, but it is unclear whether he asked the other Avengers for help or if they volunteered. But destroying Hydra is Steve’s project, so they let him decide what they do. To an extent they consider him the leader, and he may even think of himself as one.
Tony Stark referred to Captain America as “the boss” at one point during Age of Ultron, but Tony doesn’t treat him the way Steve expects he would if he really thought that. In The Avengers Tony is condescending and even resentful toward him. After the two work together for some time, there’s a little more respect and even some liking. Yet Steve expects that the other Avengers follow his directions and not do anything to jeopardize them or their mission. Tony Stark does his own thing. And Steve mistrusts Tony for this.
Steve is more concerned at first about preventing Ultron from causing more problems. But then Wanda Maximoff warns Steve the being Ultron was creating with the Mind Stone could be put to use by Tony Stark—and Steve takes it very poorly. His only thought is to prevent Tony from creating another Ultron, and he’s offended that Tony’s attitude and behavior are hurting the team as well as the world. Civil War as good as almost started over Vision’s cradle.
It would be wrong to say that Steve isn’t sad to see the breakup of the original Avengers. But at the same time I think he’s looking forward to working with the new team that has come together, probably more or less at his invitation. He has an advantage with this new team because he can set new terms for their working relationship. He can teach them how to work together, trust each other, and rely on each other in ways that the original Avengers never could: the way he wants them to.
So one of the hard parts of Civil War will be watching all of Steve’s hopes and expectations for the new Avengers go down the drain.
A Product of War
Captain America was created to fight a war that, for the rest of the world, ended seventy years ago. But the war never ended for Steve, and the best thing he can think of doing is continuing to fight.
During World War II, all civilian resources—food, clothing, and even entertainment—were redirected to the military and to mustering support for the war effort. It was a time period when people ate, slept, and breathed war. Cap went on the ice. The rest of the world had time to transition, but Steve didn’t. So a part of him still eats, sleeps, and breathes war because he didn’t get to see it end. And whatever closure he thinks he has—Hydra being vanquished, for instance—is an illusion.
When he got up, furthermore, he was asked almost right away to help save the world from Loki. Steve never intended to be Captain America for the rest of his life, but that’s what nearly everyone else wants him to be. So he has chosen to be a superhero: that is “home” for Steve now. And if it is his job to keep the world safe, then he will do whatever he thinks is right to get the job done. His job from the war, stopping Hydra, was left undone, so he is going to finish it. And his mind, it is an army—in this case, the Avengers—that is the best chance of stopping Hydra.
Doing the Right Thing as a Weakness
A lot of people don’t see why Steve had to crash the Valkyrie at the end of The First Avenger. My explanation is that Steve didn’t want the world to have access to the Hydra weapons or technology that was on that plane: Hydra was so evil that he wanted to destroy it and every evil thing it created. And, of course, he held Hydra responsible for Bucky’s “death.”
Steve does whatever he thinks is right at all costs, and if you disagree with him about what it takes to keep the world safe, then he is not giving you the benefit of a doubt.
In Captain America: Civil War, Steve will encounter a serious barrier to his goal of fighting Hydra just as Hydra is regaining strength, and his attitudes and choices in that time will put him in conflict with Iron Man and other superheroes. And then we have the Ant-man post-credit scene. From the dialogue and other inferences about the situation, we know that Bucky Barnes turning up again in this manner only complicates an already difficult situation. But why did Marvel choose to show this scene in particular? Steve wants to help his best friend, at whatever cost to himself, and if he has to break the rules—if he has to fight Tony Stark—to do so, needless to say it’s going to get ugly.
Bucky is the only thing Steve has from the life he used to know: before he was a soldier, before ANYTHING. If Steve can save Bucky, then he will be able, in some small way, to “come home.” It isn’t right this time: it’s personal.
But Steve, however, will put his personal happiness on the line to do what he thinks is right. I am prepared at this point to accept the possibility that Steve might even die in Civil War. What I am really worried about is, can Steve put up with all of this and still be a good person?
That’s the best speculation I can give you for now. But of course, it could all change the moment the trailer comes out.
This is Part 2 of the three-part Road to Civil War series
Let me get to the point: Tony Stark is not a villain. Take away his being a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, and take away the suit, and he is a person just like every one of us who is trying to do his best.
Granted, he started out as a billionaire genius whatever. What makes Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, a hero is when he realizes he has caused problems he resolves to fix them, usually with technology. In Iron Man, Stark is captured by terrorists while on a business trip–terrorists that have taken the weapons he designed. His solution is to create an armored suit with which to escape captivity and fight the terrorists, and he resolves to put his technology to better use in the future. In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is confronted with the dilemma that everyone in the world wants armored suits patterned after his own. But he thwarts the plots of those trying to steal his design and asserts that the suit is rightfully his. Rhodey gets to be War Machine because Tony trusts him, and because Rhodey understands and supports him.
By the end of Iron Man 2, Tony is not approved for the Avengers initiative, but when Loki arrives on the scene in The Avengers, Tony is asked to help–and ends up doing a lot more than he bargained for.
Tony doesn’t tell the other Avengers that his near-death experience affected him, but it did. By Christmas, Tony has full-swing PTSD. And among other things Tony struggles with in Iron Man 3, Tony wonders how much he can give to keep the world safe. I am writing this post partly because I recently rewatched Iron Man 3 and I got a new insight on Tony. One thing I noticed was the scene in the restaurant where he’s talking to Rhodey. He’s practically begging Rhodey to let him help against the Mandarin. In the end, Tony realizes that he can’t stay away when the rest of the world has problems–not when he has the power to do something.
Tony blows up all of his Iron Man suits, but I don’t think he’s completely hands-off helping with global security. We do hear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he gave some suggestions for the helicarrier turbines. What if that wasn’t the only thing he had input on? What if Tony Stark made some behind-the-scenes contributions to the Insight program? If he wasn’t going to keep the world safe as Iron Man, then S.H.I.E.L.D. could do it for him through Insight, right?
Well, if that’s the case, he was wrong. Insight turned out to be a conspiracy, and Tony was one of the people on Hydra’s blacklist. He probably wasn’t waiting for Captain America to come to him for help in the fight against Hydra. He was probably already building new Iron Man armor in order to, first and foremost, protect himself.
By the time Age of Ultron rolls around, Tony has figured out that keeping the world safe isn’t a hobby the way he’s done it in the past: it’s a real chore. But according to Tony, this isn’t how the world works. Tony doesn’t just leave problems lying around, he fixes them and moves on. If you remember what he says to Steve Rogers/Cap right before the battle of New York: “We are not soldiers.” And then when they are at Clint’s house, he says, “Isn’t that the ‘why we fight’? so we get to go home?” Tony does not want to commit to a lifetime of saving the world. And a part of him doesn’t quite understand people who would do that–people like Steve Rogers.
What Tony wants is a way to keep the world safe in a hands-off way, something to protect people from the threats on this planet and, most importantly, from outer space. Ultron is the superhero equivalent of a dishwasher or a washing machine: a technology solution to save labor. When Tony gets the scepter in Sokovia and realizes what it can do, he asks himself, why not put it to use? Why not use it to build Ultron? The Iron Legion he created could only do so much: why not make something better? Coming from Tony’s perspective, it was a pretty good idea. It was probably not very well thought-out, but it was worth a try.
The Avengers keep Ultron from destroying the world, but they created an enormous mess in order to do so. And in the process, Tony also strained the relationships he had with his teammates. I don’t think Tony blames himself completely for what happened, but just enough that he feels like he needs to step out of saving the world, at least for a time. He solved the last problem he caused, so now he can go home. But honestly, I have no idea what he could be up to now. It’s not like Tony to just sit back. It is a fair guess, though, that Tony is taking a lot of time to think about what happened.
So why would Tony get himself involved in whatever mess happens in Captain America: Civil War? What would make him side with the likes of Thunderbird Ross and take arms against Captain America? I think what might happen is that Steve Rogers, as leader of the Avengers, does something that Tony Stark, observing from the sidelines, doesn’t like. There might be evidence, in his mind, that the world doesn’t need a full-time superhero force, or if it does then such a force should at least have his input. None of that is really bad, it’s just Tony doing what he thinks needs to be done. It is Tony seeing the issue of superheroes as a problem he needs to fix. And when he realizes he can’t control other superheroes, Tony will believe that Captain America and the people who are close to him need to be stopped, even if it means killing them.
I do not plan on going to the movie theaters next May and seeing Tony Stark as the villain. Hydra will be the real evil at work there, and Iron Man’s opposition will just it harder for Captain America to stop Hydra. Captain America: Civil War is about good versus evil, but Iron Man versus Captain America is about regular people caught in a disagreement–because of misunderstanding and, to an extent, deception–and that is what makes a civil war a tragedy.
This is Part 1 of the three-part Road to Civil War series.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, ANT-MAN, AND CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR INCLUDED BELOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
I would have been perfectly happy if Marvel hadn’t announced anything and we had no idea who was on who’s side until next May. But now that we have the names, it’s only fair to speculate. I don’t know much about the comics so this is entirely based on the movies, the discussions of other online fans, and what we know so far.
Team Iron Man
Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes is Tony Stark’s best friend and sidekick. I did ask a fan website what else would motivate him to take Tony’s side in this controversy. The response was that Rhodey works for the U.S. government, so he will support whatever the government decides. This didn’t make sense to me, but then I remembered the scene in Iron Man 2 where Rhodey took the stolen armor to the Air Force Base. If that doesn’t speak volumes about Rhodey’s priorities, little else will.
I have never liked Spider-Man, but when they announced that Marvel had bought the rights from Sony to include him in Civil War and reboot him within the existing universe, I decided to deal with it. In the comics, Spider-Man plays an important part in the Civil War story. The film version, however, will differ since we are seeing Peter Parker at the outset of his career. Tom Holland was cast as the teenage webslinger based on how he performed with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, so Parker’s relationship with the heads of these two factions, specifically with Iron Man, might be crucial. There was also a mock news interview with Scott Lang released as a promo for Ant-Man, and someone on Tumblr mentioned that in the crawl on the bottom of the screen said Tony Stark had established a scholarship for inner-city students. Peter Parker probably looks to Stark as a patron. Given Tony’s relationship with Harley in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark looking for a protege makes sense.
Vision used to be JARVIS, but I have to scratch my head because Age of Ultron did little to establish how much of JARVIS is left inside of the android. As Vision, however, he might have good personal reasons for siding with Iron Man. Vision states in Age of Ultron, “I am on the side of life.” Perhaps Captain America is doing something he finds morally reprehensible.
In the comics, Vision is in a relationship with the Scarlet Witch, but since they are on different sides I wonder if that relationship is ever going to occur, if it hasn’t already.
Natasha Romanoff making Team Iron Man was certainly a shock. The fandom is disappointed because after everything that she and Steve went through together in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they seemed to have earned their mutual trust. I for one would have expected her to at least fight on the same team as Hawkeye. We may have to wait and see what Natasha’s motivations are more than for the other characters.
Team Captain America
Scarlet Witch was not involved in Civil War in the comics, and her presence alone indicates that the film is going to be very different, Wanda Maximoff was my new favorite character in Age of Ultron, so I am really happy that she is on Steve’s side. It’s not surprising, though, because if you remember in Age of Ultron she and Pietro volunteered for Hydra’s experiments in the first place because of their grudge against Tony Stark. A part of me says that Wanda hasn’t gotten over that. And the twins, if you remember, were close to Clint Barton, it’s no surprise that Wanda is sticking with him.
Sam Wilson, of course, is extremely loyal to Steve Rogers. Considering his role in Ant-Man, Sam will be the one recruiting Scott Lang and he may be the one pulling other people to Cap’s side. He might even be considered a co-leader of the team. I am interested to see how he will interact with Hawkeye/Clint Barton. They both have superhero names based on birds of prey and so naturally the fandom thinks they belong together. In-between all of the other shenanigans there is a chance we might get to see the “bird bros” bonding onscreen.
If you haven’t seen Ant-Man yet, go see it! Those of you who have, you know he’ll be called in to do Steve the ultimate favor. Scott Lang is a huge Avengers fan to start with. But what’s interesting is that in Ant-Man, Hank Pym mentioned to Scott that he could never trust Howard Stark with his technology and he doesn’t want Tony anywhere near it either. That impression probably stuck with Scott. I think Scott Lang will be Steve’s new go-to man for equipment, since he is burning bridges with Tony, and heaven knows Steve and his teammates are going to need some tech to compete with Stark.
This was the surprise for Cap’s team. I mean, he is a really loyal friend to Natasha so I am surprised and disappointed they weren’t on the same side, but that’s what’s going to raise the stakes, right? At the end of Age of Ultron, Clint went back to his family at least for a little while, so I wonder what might get him to go back into the field. The registration act from the comics storyline is not going to work out, but in Age of Ultron the other Avengers except Natasha did not know about his family, so he still had at least some degree of privacy. Something may be threatening his family and he is siding with Steve in order to protect them.
The Winter Soldier
All signs indicate that Bucky will be getting at least some of his memory and personality back, but his external circumstances will remain less than ideal. Other people aren’t going to care that he’s no longer Hydra’s brainwashed assassin, and in fact if you saw the Ant-Man post-credit scene you KNOW that he’s vulnerable for it. The more I hear, the more I think that the resolution of the Winter Soldier’s storyline will be the pin on which everyone hinges. Steve might take his stance based on how people respond to Bucky, and Steve may or may not trust certain people based on who agrees with him.
The Double Agent
When the team lineups were announced, it was also rumored that one of the superheroes was going to be a double agent. Everyone thinks (and wants) it to be Natasha, but I think we need to give the other character a look. To be brutally honest, Bucky fighting at Steve’s side is almost too good to be true. Spider Man is a new character and his motivations are unknown, but if he’s a young teenager who looks up to Tony Stark I doubt he would do anything that gutsy. Scott Lang/Ant-Man might become disillusioned with his superhero idols after watching them fight each other. Maybe Tony does something that Vision disagrees with, but once Vision makes a decision I doubt he would go back on it: he is too much pure goodness.
I would say that Team Iron Man has the advantage as far as technology, but for powers I think they might be even. As for the characters I like I think Captain America’s team took the vast majority of the cool people. However, much remains to be seen about what the actual conflict is and what will really motivate these characters we know and love to take sides.
It was a movie event years in the making. This was the culmination of everything we had seen up to this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There were so many expectations riding on it, so much for it to live up to. And more than almost any other film it lived up to all those expectations. With The Avengers, Marvel rewrote what people expected from super hero movies and completely changed the landscape. DC, previously on the fence about the idea of a Justice League movie, now realized that they had to do it in order to keep up. If they were smart, they would copy Marvel’s formula. Forget about people accusing them of ripping Marvel off, they need to do it exactly how Marvel did it. They’re not, and that is a post for another day, but let’s hope they have enough of the formula there to make it work. Don’t worry, though, it all comes full circle since The Avengers in the comics were a direct response to the Justice League comics, so there you go.
I loved this movie, from start to finish, and watching it again made me really excited for Age of Ultron. There is just something special about the Avengers films, having all the heroes together in one movie is just so much more amazing than their individual movies, in my opinion. There is just more excitement, more fun. Plus, the chemistry that they all had together was incredible. Part of why it all worked, a really big part is that we knew all of these characters already, including the main villain. The story wasn’t bogged down with any back story of the characters. We just saw how they were all finally brought together. Plus it was cool that they were somewhat true to the source material. The Avengers originally came together in t a story in which Loki tried to put Hulk against Thor, and the result was the Avengers forming. Of course, Cap wasn’t part of the team, but still, it was cool that they went that direction.
The action in this film is nonstop. It starts right at the beginning with the appearance of Loki (explained as a result of the teseract) and him stealing the teseract, as well as Hawkeye and Doctor Selvig. It doesn’t slow down from there. This made for an exciting and enjoyable movie, and you don’t really notice the length. It gets heavy in some parts, but not overly heavy, like when they are all arguing on the carrier. It starts to get heavy, but it’s followed up with a great action sequence, that leads into about 5 minutes of rest, before going right into the climax and the final battle.
Overall, this film has a great story, showing how the team is formed. It follows all the classic stages of team building-Forming (happens at the beginning as well as the films leading up to it), Storming (Starts basically when Black Widow goes to get Banner, continues when Cap meets Stark, and hits its peak in the research room on the carrier), Norming (the team comes together a little bit when Hawkeye attacks and Loki is freed, it continues through when they find out about Coulson’s “death”), and finally Performing (the final battle, as Cap takes charge, and they are finally the Avengers). This is classic story telling, and really how team building works in real life. Minus the super powers and alien invaders.
Watching this movie again made me really excited for Age of Ultron. I can’t wait to see where Whedon will be taking the team next. I have a feeling they won’t be ending on a high note, since this next movie leads into Civil War. We’ll see. In any case, The Avengers is one of my all time favorite superhero movies and has everything I want. Good team chemistry, a good story, great action, and very entertaining. You almost don’t notice little inconsistencies, like how did Thor get down to Earth? It’s never really explained.
This was a great conclusion to what Marvel called “Phase 1.” It was a very satisfying ending to the Phase 1 story line, and led us well into Phase 2, which will now be wrapping up with Age of Ultron. It also does a great job of setting up Phase 3, where we are ultimately going with all of this, the Infinity War. We see Thanos for the first time, as well as seeing shawarma for the first time. I wonder if there were little shawarma shops through out the country that saw a huge boost in business after this film came out…
What did you think of Marvel’s conclusion to Phase 1? Was it as good as the hype, or did it not really live up to it? Let me know in the comments. We are just over half way there now as we get closer and closer to the May 1 release of Age of Ultron.