Picking Sides: Why ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Polarizes

Laura Cafasso ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Concert Art from Captain America: Civil War: Photo Credit:

It may have begun when Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) asked: “Big man in a suit of armor . . . take that off, what are you?”

Maybe it all came to a boiling point when Steve and Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) were chopping wood at Hawkeye/Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) house for some inexplicable reason and got into an argument about each other’s dark sides.

Or perhaps the relationship was truly strained when Tony thought he could craft artificial intelligence without any foreseeable consequences. Except of course, the destruction of Sokovia.

This is where Captain America: Civil War picks up. Steve, who ordinarily is star-spangled, has turned his back on his untrustworthy government in order to protect his beloved pal, the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Tony, seeing no other option, has become the figurehead for superhero registration. Two sides arise, causing each Avenger to declare an allegiance. With the family split apart, MCDs (Marvel Children of Divorce) were curious: whose side are you on?


Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger: Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Stats: World War II veteran, member of the Avengers, All-American, serum-induced strength.
Honors: kicked Nazi and Hydra butt, survived seventy years in ice, defeated the Red Skull, Chitauri, Loki, and Ultron.

“I’m on Cap’s side because I’ve been a Cap fan since the first movie. I think Captain America has a lot of heart and he always tries to do the right thing. I’ve always appreciated how Cap would do anything for the people he cares about, and that he would go out of his way to help anyone. He’s really inspiring to me.”
-Sammi Curran (Writing, Literature, Publishing ‘18)

“I have been 110 percent Team Cap since the very start. In today’s world there’s a lot of cynicism, distrust, and a lot of focus on the bad in the world and not the good. It’s nice to have heroes like Captain America out there. He was a hero when he was still five foot and one hundred pounds, and that’s what’s so inspirational: you don’t have to be physically strong to make a difference.”
–Ellie Wells (Visual Media Arts ‘18)

“I’m on Cap’s side, but that’s just because we’ve been shown within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that the government can get very corrupt very quickly, and that freedom cannot be controlled. Once you try to control that freedom, it can get corrupted itself, and will never truly be one hundred percent functional again.”
-Neil R. Feeney (Visual Media Arts ‘19)

“I was on Iron Man’s side for all of ten minutes. If there are a bunch of super-powered people running around you absolutely need something to keep them in check in case they ever go rogue or mind control happens. Then I remembered Tony was suggesting that S.H.I.E.L.D. — one of the most inept espionage organizations in all of fiction — be given the reigns, and I realized Steve and I were apprehensive for the same reasons.”
-Phillip Morgan (Writing, Literature, Publishing ‘18)


Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Stats: member of the Avengers, billionaire, reformed playboy, philanthropist, genius (self-described).
Honors: Functioned with an electromagnetic heart, defeated Obadiah Stane, Ivan Vanko, Justin Hammer, Chitauri, Loki, the Mandarin, and Ultron, created Jarvis and Vision.

“I’m #TeamIronman. I’ve always been on Tony Stark’s side. He’s the obvious choice to me because he’s just such a broken man who just wants to help the world and right his wrongs. Tony Stark was emotionally abused by his father, betrayed by his other father figure, captured and tortured. . . his whole backstory in Afghanistan is evidence of the kind of man he is without the suit and without his money. He just wants to do the right thing. And let’s face it that man has deep emotional problems [PTSD, anxiety, depression]. He doesn’t deserve the hate and Captain America is a great guy, but Tony Stark is basically a phoenix rising from the ashes . . . his growth as a character is actually amazing”
-Sabrina Petrafesa (Journalism ‘18)

“I’m Team Iron Man because I have stood by his side from the beginning. There is a time and a place for breaking rules as a superhero, but no person should mistake himself or herself for God, and no man or woman should be completely ungoverned. Not even a superhero. That being said, superheroes should not be under the strict control of the government, but be subject to the law of the people. If superheroes were allowed free reign, like Captain America wants, chaos would run rampant and everyone would live in terror, not unlike if super villains were to take over the world.”
-Lexie St. Jacques (Visual Media Arts ‘18)


Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in The Avengers. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

4-2, with Team Cap coming in first. Although, let’s not forget this is just a handful of Emerson College students and in no way represents the entire Marvel fan base. But, it is fascinating to evaluate why people choose Captain America over Iron Man. Steve is caring, honest, and distrusting of the shady government, but people that side with Tony see him as logical, courageous, and smart considering the circumstances superheroes are under after several alien and domestic attacks.

Many fans can’t help but put it into a modern perspective of government oversight and politics. As St. Jacques puts it, “[The movie] will also be very much about government regulation and take a stance on just how much the government should interfere with those who may be considered above the law, yet doing good work, often better than law enforcement itself.”

Similarly, Wells says, “Divides between political parties are deeper than they ever have been, and coming together to accomplish things we should all believe in seems in many ways to be a lost cause.”

We are at an impasse in the United States just by looking at the 2016 presidential election. America is very much in the grips of a civil war not yet defined. It is hard to completely compare the Democrats and Republicans to Team Cap or Team Iron Man – Donald Trump would be the face of Hydra, let’s be real – but the unrest, anger, and fear is all relatable.


As Feeney puts it, “I think this film will really show our society’s different views. This really is the perfect civil war, because it’s a debate that has been going on for centuries: how much power should our government have?”

Curran agrees, “This is a perfectly timed movie in our society. It really is about preventative measures versus waiting until a problem comes. It really begs the question as to how restrictive governments should be.”

In recent years, there was 9/11, two wars, mass shootings, and bombings across the world. Sometimes, it would be nice if the Avengers were real because then it would be simplified, good combatting evil. But that’s unrealistic. Sometimes the narrative of both sides is present and it is easy to forget how it started in the first place. So now with Captain America: Civil War, fans are presented with a similar predicament.

These movies have taught viewers that the villains always lose, even if that’s not reflected right outside the movie theater. That’s why Marvel films, especially ones having to do with Captain America, are so popular and successful: good triumphs, hope, and heroes are real. This may seem naive, but it is wholeheartedly true.

With any civil war come casualties. Just from the trailer, it appears that War Machine/Lieutenant James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) falls to his death. Wells thinks “His death will be collateral damage and that’s when the conflict will get personal with Tony because he will be out for Steve’s blood.” Other theories from the interviewees include Captain America, Hawkeye, and Crossbones.

Petrafesa insists that “no one should die especially not Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) or Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) or any of the very few women and people of color in the film.” This would be a risky move for Marvel considering the backlash they would receive. They have already been criticized for not having a Black Widow stand-alone film yet.

Concert Art from Captain America: Civil War: Photo Credit:

Though no superhero should have to die over this fight, Marvel probably has some serious heartbreak up its sleeves. My morbid theory is that the falling War Machine clip is a farce, and somehow miraculously he will survive the fall. Instead of Rhodes’ obvious demise, Iron Man is going to die. He has been built up to be the more impulsive, hardheaded Avenger and as usual, all his sincere efforts will ricochet. I get that vibe from watching Bucky and Steve’s team-beat-up-Tony scene from one of the trailers. Also, it would take the audience by surprise, especially since Captain America is supposed to meet his doom, according to the comic books.

But it is a waiting game, since Captain America: Civil War is a couple weeks away. Despite the division, I still believe that Tony and Steve can find a way to compromise. Did Steve mean nothing in Age of Ultron when he said they’d fight “together?” We’ll see.

Captain America: Civil War will be in theaters everywhere on May 6th.


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