Drama, secrets, and revenge may sound like the base for a soap opera, but these were the ingredients that came together to create the masterpiece of the third addition to the story of Steve Rogers, Captain America: Civil War. This epic film had an epic opening weekend, raking in $181.8 million and becoming the fifth-largest opening ever. After such a huge amount of hype and buzz on social media before the film was even released, it was unsurprising that many were drawn to watch their favorite superheroes battle it out. A fair warning: spoilers lie ahead.
The film focuses on a conflict between Iron Man and Captain America, one that consumes the entire team of Avengers. When the United Nations (U.N.) hopes to put restrictions on the superheroes with an accords to avoid civilian casualties all over the world, Tony Stark feels it is the right thing to support their decision. But Steve Rogers despises the idea of being controlled by world leaders and assumes that he can judge situations for himself, a “dangerously arrogant” attitude. His view is only strengthened when the government believes that Bucky Barnes, his childhood best friend, is responsible for an attack on the U.N. building in Vienna and hopes to capture and possibly kill him.
It has been two years since Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Barnes made his last appearance. Best friends since childhood, Barnes and Rogers were inseparable in both the schoolyard and on the battlefield, so it is only expected that Rogers would be so drawn to try to help his friend despite his murderous past. Hydra had forced Barnes to become a supersoldier by brainwashing him to slaughter many innocents, but Rogers puts all his faith in him and believes Barnes when he says that he was not behind the explosion in Vienna. Still, many Avengers stuck by Stark and signed the accords, but some took Rogers’ side and essentially went against the government as well.
The film builds on the stories of new characters and shows their place among the other superheroes. Scarlet Witch and Vision were just introduced in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, and their characters and relationships are expanded upon. Scarlet Witch triggers the entire conflict at the beginning of the film when she accidentally kills hundreds of civilians in Sokovia, but she wavers between sides because she has not quite found her place among the Avengers. Meanwhile, Vision is rule-bound and uses his large access to information to conclude that Stark is in the right. Having joined the group around the same time, Scarlet Witch and Vision seem to have a connection that many fans are excited to see grow. Ant-Man made an appearance as well, recruited by Falcon on Rogers’ side. His movie was released last year and was a huge hit. It was exciting to see him interact with other fan favorites.
New heroes that will soon have their own films were introduced as well. Black Panther made a debut appearance, an antagonist hoping to avenge his father’s death in the beginning that later realizes that a life of vengeance never ends well. He ends up changing his ways and taking Rogers’ side, and his own movie is set to release in 2018. Spider-Man finally made a debut appearance in the Marvel cinematic universe as well, recruited by Stark himself. He was played by a new actor this time, Tom Holland, who seems to fit the age and dorkiness of Peter Parker much better than Sony’s previous choices of actors. Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man’s character but has now allowed Marvel Studios to include him in their movies, so a second reboot of Spider-Man will begin in 2017 under Marvel.
Before and after the film, many fans took sides and debated the ethics of Stark’s and Rogers’s viewpoints. Many believe that they were both obnoxiously stubborn in their viewpoints, and a little more flexibility on both sides would have gone a long ways in preventing the huge conflict that emerged, a conflict that ended in shattered trust, a broken team, and even lifelong injuries for Stark’s friend, War Machine. Arguments from both sides are compelling, and it is hard to say if there is a right or wrong side. Technically, Rogers ended up winning and got away, but the government is still after him, and his friendship with Stark seems to be irreparable.
Many have called Captain America: Civil War the best Marvel film yet. It incorporated so many characters and showed the complexities of the relationships between the superheroes, captivating fans between the emotion and action. The movie was nearly two and half hours long but still did not seem long enough. There were so many components that will be analyzed word for word for quite some time among Marvel fans. Although it is technically a Captain America film, many see it as an Avengers film because of its focus on the group dynamic. The film ended with a torn up Avengers, half the squad on the run from an overbearing government and the other half left in small numbers, only Stark, Vision, and War Machine left. But Rogers did promise Stark that if he was ever in need of the other heroes, they would come to help. The next Avengers film is set to release in 2018, so it may be a while before we learn the fate of our favorite superheroes. All we know for sure is that this film is now iconic in Marvel’s short yet powerful cinematic history.