I went to see this movie on the 30th of April and it’s at times like these that I’m glad I write short spoiler-free reviews and don’t dive deeply in themes and such, because for this movie all that I could delve into is my sea of tears. This movie was so hyped, and I was so hyped for this movie, and it lived up to it. This movie was all I wanted it to be, and it broke my heart just as I feared it would.
So, I can’t really explain too much of the plot, because of spoilers, but I can tell you that both Tony and Steve had both right and wrong reasons to disagree, to clash and to eventually go to war with each other. Simply put: Tony feels that the Avengers need some kind of oversight, that they need to be kept in check (which is a good point) and Steve feels that if they would decide on oversight the government’s hands is not where it should lie (which is also a good point). But then Bucky is thrown in the mix, and things spiral out of control. Avengers and new people are forced to take sides, like the marketing campaign tried to do with the fans (and succeeded for the most part).
I tried to go in without choosing a side: I know my bias. I know that Iron Man is my favourite Avenger, but also my favourite character because of his quirks and his flaws. I know that I didn’t like Captain America at first because he was this goody-goody two shoes characters, and I only changed my mind after seeing Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. The movie does great work in showing you the good/bad points of both sides and makes you understand where each of the characters is coming from. That’s why the war is so heart-breaking: you don’t want your heroes to fight each other. Yet I came out of this movie on Iron Man’s team and pretty angry at Captain America. Other people will have gone the opposite direction, and I understand why, but I chose Tony’s side. And here’s why (while trying to be as non-spoilery as I can):
We can say that the MCU began with the first Iron Man movie, with this billionaire, philanthropist playboy we all know and love. We can also say that from the first Iron Man movie until the Captain America 3: Civil War movie he’s slowly been unravelling. Which begs the question: why does Tony have to suffer so much? (I know, I know, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT and all that, but still) Let us take a moment to think about this character and what he’s been through:
- Has an aloof genius for a father he always struggled to connect with and live up to
- Has a bigger connection to his mother and his butler (Jarvis), but then his parents both died in a car crash
- Gets abducted after becoming a global success because of his genius and his talents at running a business
- Has to have a battery in his chest to keep shrapnel from entering his heart and killing him
- Is forced to build a weapon in a high-tension situation (though he manages to build the first Iron Man suit from a bunch of scraps)
- Has to experience the death of the fellow imprisoned scientist he befriended just as they were about to free themselves
- Gets home, tries to stop Stark Industries’ weapons development and gets ousted from his position for it
- Is betrayed by a father figure
- Is slowly dying because of the battery in his chest, while fighting legal battles about his suit
- Gets deeper into depression and alcoholism
- Gets his suits at the Expo used against him
- Finds out there are aliens and much more out there in space, as if terrorists weren’t bad enough
- Experiences the death of agent Coulson, who was his friend even though he didn’t want to admit it
- Saves Manhattan from the nuke by sacrificing himself, almost dies
- Suffers from PTSD-induced panic-attacks
- One of his best friends (Happy) is blast to hell and is in the hospital
- Suffers from PTSD-induced nightmares and obsessively tinkers with suits to feel protected
- Has his house bombed and then gets stuck under water for a while which really doesn’t help with his already long list of traumatic experiences
- Almost loses the woman he loves
- Blows up his 50+ suits and has an operation to remove the shrapnel from his heart in an effort to pretend he’s fine now
- Has his worst and deepest fears (his friends dead or dying because of him) conjured up by Scarlet Witch
- Decided to try to protect the whole world by creating Ultron, which then turns against him
- People still blame him for his weapons even after he shut down that part of Stark Industries years ago
- Loses another good friend as Banner takes off
And all of this is what happens before Civil War! What happens during Civil War piles up even more and what makes me angry about all of this is that his friends/team mates don’t seem to notice that Tony’s slowly drowning and that he’s trying so hard to do the right thing because he feels guilty, because he knows it’s his fault and because so many people blame him for things (even things he didn’t do). He’s trying to be this good guy, this superhero, knowing full well his worst enemy is himself, whilst suffering from PTSD and everybody ignores that. They always seem to think the worst of him.
The ending of Civil War for me was a gut-punch. And though I can’t tell you about how it ends for Tony, I can tell you it didn’t sit well with me. Steve Rogers is good personified. Tony isn’t, he’s a flawed individual so desperate to do good that he makes mistakes. And that’s why in the end I chose team Iron Man. It’s not hard to do the right thing when you’re the ultimate good guy. It’s much harder when you’re in the grey area.
On a lighter note, Spider-Man and Black Panther were highlights for me in this movie.