by Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
The latest Marvel release, ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is, as the title suggests, about a war between people of the same country, or, in this case, of the same genre. Superhero fans will love this flick. The film is about the Avengers who divide over the intervention of the United Nations into their autonomy.
The UN wants some Avenger accountability. The high powered, unusually gifted Avengers leave a lot of “collateral damage” as they gallivant around the world being do-gooders on the move, and the UN doesn’t like the unwarranted damage to innocent people. The Avengers swoop in and intervene in small and large atrocities being done to the “least of these” in a contemporary society. But to some of the Avengers, the thought of being accountable means less freedom in decision-making. Some of them don’t like that idea at all.
The film is rife with action, unusual fights (we particularly liked Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, the Avenger who sports mechanical wings and flies like a huge fast bird diving in just at the appropriate time to help out his buddies in a pinch). Of course, Captain America (Chris Evans) and his “Frisbee on steroids shield” is a demonstration in adept throwing, and self-protection. Super heroes abound with Ant Man (Paul Rudd), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in the cast, just to name a few.
Loyalty and friendship take precedence as the Avengers choose sides against each other in a violent show of force and unusual powers. Movie goers are right in the action with the 3-D presentation.
As with any superhero film it’s all about power. It’s all about good vs. evil but this film raises questions somewhere in the middle of those polar opposites. Still, the underlying message to young people especially is, might makes right. That’s not the kind of power Jesus taught.
So where is God in all this Hollywood hoop-la? God is in the gifts of imagination and creativity bestowed upon Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed the film. God is in the expression of the writers of screenplay, comic book and character development, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Mark Millar, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby.
But even though these gifted film-makers are all guys, anyone can be a superhero fan. In fact, anyone with a strong heart and perseverance can even be a real superhero with “the least of these,” for that matter. After all it was Jesus, the ultimate superhero, who showed love overcomes death who said whenever we help “the least of these” we are helping him.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, they both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels