The great anticipation that’s been building up since the last Avengers film is finally over. Captain America: Civil War bounded into the theaters this past weekend with all the superheroes one could possibly want (with the exception of Thor and Hulk). Oh, well. I suppose we can’t have everything. Although billed as a Captain America film, it might as well have been “Avengers 3.”
To sign or not to sign
The film begins as Cap (Chris Evans) and Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) fight some bad guys in Lagos. They win, of course, but Wanda makes a mistake and lives are lost. Back on home turf, Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt) tells them it’s time for a change. The Avengers need to take responsibility for their actions. They need oversight and the UN is willing to assign that oversight in the form of the Sokovia Accords. The Accords say that the Avengers will have bosses and the bosses get to decide where they go and what they do. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) thinks they should sign the accords but Captain America does not.
Lightening the mood
Captain America: Civil War delivers on every level. The eye-popping action moves the story forward and the humor brings the tension down a notch or two. My favorite parts of the big showdown between Team Cap and Team Iron Man were the introduction of Spider Man (Tom Holland) and Ant Man (Paul Rudd). Both went totally fan boy upon meeting the Avengers and as they fight, they throw out great one liners like, “You have a metal arm! Cool!”
To talk about
From the perspective of values, the film provides much to talk about. The central issue that causes the “civil war” is not a black and white one. Should they sign the Sokovia Accords and give up their freedom to exercise their super-ness as they see fit or give the say-so to others? Iron Man and his supporters want to sign for good reasons but Captain America and his supporters don’t want to sign for equally good reasons. But instead of sitting down and talking it out, they fight.
If any of the Avengers were spiritual or religious people, they might have done well to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. They still may have disagreed but maybe they could have avoided the fight, which had it’s own tragic consequences. As each Avenger chooses sides for his/her own reasons the opportunities to talk things out continue to diminish.
What would you do?
The more personal wedge between Cap and Iron Man comes in the form of Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. The loyalty that Cap/Steve Rogers shows to his childhood friend made me think that every person should have such a fiercely loyal friend. The hurt suffered by Tony Stark requires forgiveness but Tony is not emotionally able to forgive. Again, neither one of them is right or wrong. They just approach the situation with different mindsets. Can they work it out? What might you do in this situation?
I don’t want to give away anything by delving too deeply, but here are some other themes worthy of mindful conversation once you’ve seen the film: conviction, self-sacrifice, hurtful manipulation, taking responsibility, forgiveness, reconciliation, discernment, friendship, and justice.
About the Author
Sister Hosea Rupprecht is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, a religious community dedicated to evangelization with the media. She holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto and an MA in Media Literacy from Webster University in St. Louis.
Sr. Hosea is director of the East Coast office of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, based in Staten Island, NY, and speaks on media literacy and faith to catechists, parents, youth, and young adults. Together with Father Chip Hines, she is the co-host of Searchlight, a Catholic movie review show on Catholic TV. Sr. Hosea is the author of How to Watch Movies with Kids: A Values-Based Strategy, released by Pauline Books & Media.
For the past 15 years, she has facilitated various film dialogues for both children and adults, as well as given presentations on integrating culture, faith and media.