Sure, it’s a cliché, but we know it’s true. We make our share of mistakes. But, as painful as those missteps can be, they’re rarely matters of life and death.
But if you’re an Avenger, the consequences of imperfection can be far greater.
For years, the Avengers — both separately and collectively — have saved the world time and time again. They’ve rescued thousands, millions, even billions of people from terrible fates. But their unsanctioned do-gooding has not come without cost. Innocent people are sometimes still inside those exploding buildings and falling cars.
And so the civilised world draws up the Sokovia Accords — an agreement between the planet and the superheroes who protect it. Many heroes, including Iron Man, support the Accords. He believes that even superheroes — especially superheroes, perhaps — could use a little accountability. But others, including Captain America, aren’t so sure. Organisations, however well-meaning, have a tendency to foster their own agendas.
The Accords will be passed, of course, whether the good Captain likes ’em or not. But during the signing ceremony, tragedy strikes: A bomb goes off, killing dozens. It’s not long before news agencies broadcast the picture of the presumed bomber: the Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes, aka Captain America’s one-time best friend.
As we can gather from the title, Captain America: Civil War pits hero against hero — a Technicolor battle centred around issues we struggle with today. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that most of these heroes still have the same basic goals in mind: to protect the innocent, bring the guilty to justice and make the world a safer place. Some, like Iron Man, believe that such a greater good can best be reached by submitting to a legal authority. Cap, for his part, is determined to save Bucky’s life, no matter the cost. And others just want to preserve this strange, oddly loving family that the Avengers has become.
But these supers are human, too, and emotions come into play.
Superheroes fight lots of bad guys and, often, one another, too. People are punched, kicked, battered, bruised, flung, crunched… and webbed. Sometimes these battles can feel light, almost like the adversaries are playing a football game and will share a soda at halftime. But there comes a point at which things get personal: Heroes look as if they want to kill.
By now, we all pretty much know what Disney’s Marvel movies look like. They follow a rather reliable template: frenetic action, lots of dead bodies but not so much blood and a welcome allotment of team-spirit banter to lighten the mood. And, of course, you’ve got lots of superheroes doing their hero thing.
Captain America: Civil War comfortably follows the CGI-enhanced template, but with one interesting change. Here, the superheroes fight one another — and without losing their heroic bona fides. Each one is doing what he or she believes is right while disagreeing vehemently over what right looks like. And that makes this superhero movie (a genre not exactly known for its depth) a potential springboard into thoughtful conversations.
“My faith is in people, I guess,” Captain America says. He believes that good people with good motives — folks like himself — can be trusted to do good things.
Tony Stark, the Iron Man who’s struggled mightily with his own flaws, knows just how imperfect we can be. He believes that all of us, even superheroes, need to be held accountable for our actions. He believes that submitting to, in this case, the oversight of a governmental authority is the best way forward.
We can love people, but we know they may fail. We should submit to authority, even as we know it can be deeply flawed. Both sapien and system can let us down. Nobody’s perfect.
By Focus on the Family Singapore. This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.