Captain America: Civil War Parent Review
While fan boys will likely revel in the mayhem, all that fighting may be the primary reason parents want to put the brakes on their young kids seeing this movie.
It was bound to happen. I’ve been watching superhero movies for over two decades and have often wondered who paid for the massive collateral damages after the good guys annihilate the bad guy. Not only is there incredible destruction of property, there is also the loss of so many innocent lives. Now that very question is being asked by the United Nations after an Avengers’ operation in Lagos, Nigeria goes awry and leaves buildings destroyed and many people dead. This “final straw” leads to the development of the Sokovia Accord, a document that places The Avengers under the oversight of an international governing body. Not surprisingly, some of the members of the fighting force disagree with the notion of having to work within government and agendas. Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) is primary amongst this group. However, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is still reeling with guilt after his Siri-gone-wrong Ultron experiment led to the destruction of Sokovia. And that motivates the Iron Man to support the proposal and try to convince the others to follow his lead.
These political differences further grow after a prominent political leader (John Kani) is killed in a terrorist blast where the chief suspect turns out to be an old friend of Steve Rogers. Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) was Rogers’ WWII buddy until he was captured and became a victim of a Soviet-era mind control experiment. Nevertheless, he saved the Captain’s life in the last movie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and now Rogers is convinced Barnes is once again, being used as a pawn.
But Tony Stark isn’t buying any of it. He wants Rogers, and the other team members supporting him, put in jail after they thwart a police attempt to capture Barnes. This disagreement eventually leads to the ultimate superhero showdown on the tarmac of a German airport. A dozen Avengers, split evenly with six on each side, duke it out in a fight that will have fans forgetting they ever wanted popcorn, while those who are just causal viewers may want to seize this opportunity in the midst of this two-hour-plus adventure to plug the meter, grab some snacks or take a bathroom break.
All that fighting will also be the primary reason some parents may want to put the brakes on young kids seeing this movie. Uncounted actual and implied deaths result from all this heroic mayhem, including characters shot on screen and others shown as corpses. Blood effects are minimal, but we do see red in some situations, including a murdered character lying in a bathtub (the body is obscured by a curtain with blood seen running down the side of the tub). Torture (by threat of drowning) is also depicted. And you’ll hear a few scatological expletives and other profanities as well.
Ironically, this story about placing responsibility on these enhanced humans for their reckless destruction of property and life is full of scenes featuring reckless destruction of property and life. Fortunately, Captain America and Iron Man are both forced to rethink their initial vengeful behaviors, but that’s only after we’ve sat through scenes with Tony Stark happily quipping about punching someone in the face. Parents may want to guide younger audiences to think about ways to productively react to conflict.
These concerns aside, my sarcasm shouldn’t be taken to mean this film is a total waste of time. If you’re a Marvel fan, you’ve probably already bought into the first few movies and this one will satisfy. Yet as we dig more deeply into the intricate histories and interactions of this legion of characters, audiences who are just “dropping in” would do well to bring a comic aficionado with them—just remember to be quiet when you whisper questions like, “Who’s that guy?”Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany. Running time: 148 minutes. Theatrical release May 6, 2016. Updated September 14, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Captain America: Civil War here.
Captain America: Civil War Parents Guide
The Avengers are accused of being undisciplined and dangerous. In order to keep them from being perceived as criminals or vigilantes, various governments want them to abide by a strict set of rules. Why do some of the super heroes think this is an acceptable request, while others do not? What are the pros and cons of having to answer to a higher power for their actions? How might this well-intentioned restraint be used against them? What do you think these enhanced humans should do? How do you feel about the council to: “Compromise where you can—but where you can’t, don’t compromise.”
One character states: “Victory at the expense of innocent lives is no victory at all.” Do you agree or disagree? How can you tell whether or not the means justifies the ends? What collateral damage is acceptable when pursuing peace and justice?
Another character suggests that Stark’s generosity may be motivated by guilt. What do you think? Is it possible to pay back or make amends for past mistakes, especially if they include taking someone’s life?
As civil war breaks out amongst the Avengers, one of them asks another if they are still friends. Is it possible to maintain a friendship with a person when you are an enemy to their ideals? Have you ever had to deal with a serious difference of opinion with someone you were close to?