A week ago I saw the latest and definitely the greatest Marvel installment! And hey, we actually got to see it the day after it was unleashed on the American public, so the suspense of waiting to get to the theater wasn’t bad at all. (*breathes a sigh of relief*) Very mild spoilers from here on out.

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2016 was always going to be a big year for me superhero-wise, between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War…and believe it or not, I actually prefer Civil War. While Dawn of Justice was everything I hoped for in regards to the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, it was a much heavier, somber movie and I walked out very quiet and thoughtful. Civil War, however, left our family giddy with excitement and brimming with theories about various characters and political discussion –which I did NOT expect, given that I’d heard it was an emotional horror movie.

I walked into the theater #TeamCap, and I left on #TeamCap. No surprise there. However, the film did an excellent job of showing both sides of the “civil war” without demonizing one perspective or the other. After the chaotic events of the two Avengers films and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the governments of the world want the Avengers to submit themselves to the United Nations’ supervision. Steve Rogers, distrustful of the UN’s agenda, refuses to support it; Tony Stark, traumatized by the enormous loss of life in New York, Washington, and Sokovia, backs it wholeheartedly.

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It’s a classic example of the tension between liberty and security. Tony says point-blank that the Avengers need to be restrained, and that he doesn’t care what form those restrictions take; the important thing is that innocent civilians don’t become casualties in cataclysmic situations. Steve, however, argues that the Avengers need the freedom to decide when and where they intervene, because the government will always have their own agenda and the safest hands remain those of the Avengers. Tony’s confidence lies in the wisdom of authorities; Steve has faith in individual people.

As a conservative with slightly-libertarian tendencies, I have to agree with Steve. I see where Tony is coming from and I sympathize with him, but I fear he’s too reactionary, too easily led by his emotions, and has far too much faith in the good intentions of modern government. Do I think the Avengers ought to set their own guidelines on how they handle certain situations? Sure! Do I think they should be well-trained? Absolutely. Do I think that they made mistakes (i.e., sending Wanda Maximoff out when she probably wasn’t ready)? Yeah.

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But do I think the government should barge in and take over the whole organization? Heck no. As Steve points out, the government (specifically, the United Nations!) have their own agendas and he doesn’t trust them anymore than I do. (Amazing that they’d have that kind of negative commentary on the UN in a Hollywood film, eh?) He knows that if the Avengers trade their freedom for security they’ll have neither freedom nor security. As the story progresses, you find out he’s absolutely right.

Things only deteriorate when Bucky Barnes, still recovering from severe brainwashing at the hands of the Soviets, is accused of blowing up a UN building and assassinating the elderly King of Wakanda. Steve defies the government by trying to protect Bucky from the resulting “shoot-first-ask-questions-later” manhunt, thus bringing #TeamIronMan’s full wrath on his head. The tragic bombing also introduces Prince T’Challa, AKA Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman (who also played Jackie Robinson in 42) plays him with great dignity and poise; his grief over his father’s death and quest for revenge make for one of the most riveting subplots in the film.

The conflict within Natasha Romanoff and between Wanda Maximoff and Vision also drives the story forward. Natasha was my favorite character in the whole movie. She decides to side with Tony, but it proves an uncomfortable alliance: after all, it’s not easy working against Steve Rogers and Clint Barton when they’re the two men who know you better than you know yourself. (Romanogers shipper here, by the way. No shame. A Certain Scene did not change my loyalties, either. ‘Twill go the way of Bruce/Natasha, IMO.)

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Wanda, meanwhile, is everybody’s little sister still trying to find confidence in herself and in her new family, while Vision is still trying to get used to Life In General. The two are obviously drawn to one another (*eyebrows shooting almost to my hairline*), but Vision is driven by his desire to protect life at all costs, and Wanda treasures her freedom. Plus, she knows Steve and Clint care about her, and I think she’d go to the moon for them. That doesn’t make going against Vision any easier, though.

Spider-Man, Sam Wilson, and Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man provide much of the comic relief in the film–not all, of course, but a good bit of it. Scott is just too cute; I enjoyed the Ant-Man film WAY more than I thought I would, so I was very excited to see him in this one! Sam Wilson’s verbal sparring with Bucky Barnes is HEAVENLY. (I just enjoy Sass, okay?) And I really approve of Tom Holland as Peter Parker: he blends Tobey Maguire’s innocence with Andrew Garfield’s far superior acting.

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The movie ended much happier than I expected, with a big RAH-RAH-RAH moment for one team in particular and the promise of eventual reconciliation. Questions and theories are still being tossed around fast and furious at our house…but I think we all agree that this was our favorite Marvel movie so far, surpassing even The Winter Soldier. And that’s saying a lot! Long live the Russo Brothers; may they be in charge of Marvel movies for many years to come!

Have you seen Civil War? Do you have any theories about its aftermath? Let loose the spoilers in the comments section–I want to know what you think!

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