Captain America: Civil War Themes and Character Motives Explained
In this article, we are going to discuss all the themes, dive deep into both the sides of Sokovia Accords and analyse certain characters motive in Captain America: Civil War.
By Aashish Pradhan
8 December 2021
I’ll just say this, Captain America: Civil War is still one of the best (if not THE best) movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s not easy to assemble so many characters in a single movie and still give proper development to them, but Anthony and Joe Russo from time to time have proved that they are proficient in this big superhero assembles.
The Russo Brothers really hit a home-run with this movie. The movie ignites a theme, develops it properly and maintains it evenly throughout its length. The plot is so sublime and contains two sides of the story, and kudos to Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenwriters) and Russo brothers for presenting both these sides such efficiently with proper development. The movie might be a low on spectacular action sequences, but its concept and execution takes it up higher in the ranks.
Captain America: Civil War at some points feels different from MCU’s other movies but still manages to sneak that Marvel vibe to it and I love this combination. The makers have got this amazing concept and they still made it feel not so distant from other MCU properties. The movie has some action sequences and comedic scenes laid around so that it feels familiar to the general audience.
Now, Civil War brings up many questions and delves deeper into many themes. So, if such themes and character motives confuse you, then don’t worry, you’re in the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss all the themes, dive deep into both the sides of Sokovia Accords and analyse certain characters motive. So, I hope you’re not brainwashed and are not triggered by particular words because now you would have to use your BRAAAINNNNS.
Note – From here onwards, there will be huge spoilers for the movie as I discuss some of the elements from the plot in a great detail. So, you might want to first watch the movie before further reading.
Themes and Character Motives in Captain America: Civil War
Superhero can be both advantageous and disadvantageous for the world and its people. Obviously, they save the world from greater threats beyond the capabilities of a normal human being, but that doesn’t come without a cost. A cost of collateral damage or death of others. Now some people may argue that for the greater good, few deaths are manageable and that makes sense. But think about the people who lost their family just because of a superhero’s mistake. Wanda tossed Crossbones in the air due to which many people in the building died. Whose fault was that? Somebody will have to take responsibility, right? So, in a way, Sokovia Accords make sense. Superheroes are very powerful human beings and you never know what mistake or damage they might make next.
But what about the superheroes? If the government controls and uses them, what about their free will? Even if we keep free will aside, what would happen if there is a dire need of such superhumans but for some reason government is just reluctant to release them for that situation. This side was also explored in the movie. General Ross at many points tries to control Tony and his team and at one point, he was even ready to send a Special Ops team instead of Iron Man to handle STEVE FREAKING ROGERS. Bro, he is a superhuman who is 100+ years old, what would your special ops do to this man?
The movie presents both these sides of Sokovia Accords very well and that’s what makes it such a great feat. Due to the action and destruction done by Avengers in Sokovia, a mother lost her child and she blames Tony for it as she literally says to him, “His name was Charlie Spencer. You murdered him. In Sokovia. Not that it matters in the least to you. You think you fight for us. You just fight for yourself.” So, obviously after hearing this, Tony would agree with the implementation of Sokovia Accords. But Steve on the other side believes that this United Nations panel cannot be trusted as “it’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” And this makes sense too, as it’s coming from a guy who has had similar experiences with all those HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D incidents.
The movie maintains this theme very well even with Zemo. This whole fiasco was Zemo’s masterplan. If he hadn’t bombed the UN meeting and framed Bucky Barnes, then this entire Team Tony vs Team Cap thing wouldn’t have occurred. Avengers would have eventually settled on to something with this Sokovia Accords WITHOUT FIGHTING EACH OTHER TILL DEATH.
Zemo, just like many others, lost his family (wife and kids) in Sokovia during the events of Age of Ultron. He swore on the grave of his wife that he will make these superheroes suffer. He knew he can’t kill them so he made a master-plan to let the avengers kill each other and he used Bucky to execute his plan. He knew exactly that Steve will help Bucky and once he reveals to Tony that Bucky was the one who killed his family, vengeance would take over him and the two of these avengers would clash. And dude, this all happened just according to his plan. He succeeded, and he fulfilled his promise so he thought it was the time for him to say goodbye to this world but T’Challa saved him because no matter what Zemo’s motive were, he did kill a lot of people.
The movie maintains the revenge theme excellently too. Vengeance took over 3 people in this movie. T’Challa wanted revenge because his father was killed in the bombing, Tony because his parents were killed by The Winter Soldier and Zemo because his family died in the Sokovia attack. It was never Bucky’s fault as to what happened to him and what he did to others. He absolutely had no control over his Winter Soldier persona and he deeply regrets the things he has done in those times but still many people died. Whose fault is that? There’s no right answer to this.
Tony obviously lost his parents and, in the moment, where Zemo revealed their true killer, vengeance took over him. Surely, someone has to take that responsibility and Bucky was there, so Tony attacked him. Tony wasn’t wrong in this scenario, and neither was Bucky. He literally couldn’t stop him from killing Howard and Maria Stark. So, as I said, this is a very complicated scenario and Captain America: Civil War does a tremendous job in presenting both sides of the story and does not give importance to one such side.
T’Challa’s father T’Chaka died during the bombing in UN conference and there’s nothing he wanted more than to have revenge for his father’s murder. He was so high on vengeance that he instantly went for Bucky’s blood just because some news channel reported that Bucky was involved in the bombing. If given a chance, he would have absolutely killed Bucky in the heat of the moment and later would have regretted it to the core had he found out it wasn’t Bucky but Zemo who was responsible for the UN bombing. But seeing Captain America and Iron Man fight made T’Challa realise that vengeance can destroy lives and friendship and he says to Zemo “Vengeance has consumed you. It’s consuming them. I am done letting it consume me. Justice will come soon enough.”
So, Captain America: Civil War is still a triumph for Marvel Studios, which focuses on themes never discussed in such a great detail in Superhero movies. It may lack on magnificent CGI-fest action pieces but the lore, storytelling and concept takes it up a notch.