Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 11:10 pm | Overcast 50º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Captain America - Civil War’

3 Stars — Troubling

Fans of the Marvel Universe can easily be tempted to debate which super hero is more powerful: Captain America or Iron Man; Ant-Man or Hawkeye; Black Widow or Scarlett Witch.

Due to their unique skills, such debates can be endless, unless, of course, there would come a time when they would fight against each other. Such a civil war could provide the answers we seek.

However, if that is the intent, then Anthony and Joe Russo’s film, Captain America: Civil War, is of little help. The battle is interesting but with little depth or the comparison of their powers. Even when death is on the line, the heroes do not take one another’s lives but rather, as is noted in the dialog, “pull their punches.”

As the title explains, Captain America (Chris Evans) is a primary figure in this tale. Focusing on his unwavering commitment to independence, he is unwilling to sign an agreement with the United Nations that places the Avengers under governmental oversight. The Avenger leader of this U.N. attempt to stem the collateral damage that occurs when they fight against powerful criminals, is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). It is this division that ends up pitting half of the Avengers against the others.

Although we won’t spoil either the intrigue or the complex plot, the moral and social issues are many. The first and most obvious is the question of whether the world is safer under the control of politicians or under the unique abilities of individuals.

Although the individuals in the Marvel Universe are accentuated “super” humans, the analogical message is that each of us have unique abilities and if we work together we can face “super” human problems.

However, the inverse is also true. If we fight against one another then not only will evil win but we will all be imprisoned by our foolish pride as well as becoming vulnerable to the manipulation of others.

The second moral issue the film demonstrates is the compulsion of vengeance causing individual and global destruction. In this instance the vengeance becomes a virus that impairs the hearts and souls of several within the tale.

In addition, the obvious lack of forgiveness vengeance implies leaves everyone in a darkness that lacks wisdom or compassion. The questions then of friendship and loyalty are present in a manner that misunderstands both and leaves us questioning the relationships of the avengers and of all who battle.

Although some might not expect comic book tales to have insight into the human condition since it is based on fantasy, that is not true. The tale may give the majority of its time to vengeance, conflict and battle, but not without presenting a troubling view of the human condition and helping viewers to have a better understanding of life.

As it sets us up for the next chapter in the tale, we look for more insight from subsequent chapters in the book of Marvel.


» It is unlikely that a person with super-human strength could fight against a person with a mechanical suit with a special power source and powerful weapons. Why do you think the battles were presented as being equal regardless of the obvious inequities?

» The devastating compulsion of vengeance can cause a person to harm even the closest of friends. How have you dealt with vengeance within yourself or others?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the retired pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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