Wanda Maximoff’s Room: Backstory in Less than 3 Minutes

The Russo brothers had their work cut out for them in Civil War. They had to bring us up to speed on all of our old characters, seamlessly introduce new ones, and engage in a deeply layered and interpersonal conflict in a way that was organic and engaging. What is the answer to that dilemma? Multitasking storytelling; using every aspect of a scene with characters, props, setting, music, etc to get the point across.

They pulled it all off magnificently. There are so many of this aspects of this film that I could discuss, but today I want to talk about how we were brought up to speed on the character of Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch.

When we last saw Wanda, it was in Age of Ultron where she spent most of the movie on the hunt for revenge on Tony Stark. We got a bit of her backstory, she and her twin brother lost both their parents and their childhood to a missile made by Stark Industries. Still, we didn’t really get to experience her heart, and we learned next-to-nothing about her personality.

Now, it is one year after the tragic events in Sokovia. Wanda lost her brother to that battle, and that meant she lost pretty much the only stability or identify she has ever known. Pietro was her foundation and safe place. She has been with the Avengers for a year now, and they have become her new sense of family and security. She’s no longer thirsting for vengeance, so….just who is Wanda Maximoff?

We got a few glimpses of who she is in the battle with Crossbones in Lagos, Nigeria. Wanda is obviously still in training, but her powers make her one of the biggest assets on the team. She was very tuned in to instructions and quick to have Captain America’s back. Her face was heartbreaking when she saw the accidental explosion caused by her efforts to save Steve from Crossbones’ bomb.

But the greatest download we got on Wanda was in the short scene in her bedroom. This scene was brilliantly done of every level, but I have to give the biggest applause to the set designer. Multiple levels of information and story were given to us in less than 3 minutes.

We know exactly who Wanda is when this scene is done; we know her desires, her hopes, and her fears. Her character arc for the rest of the movie is established in this scene. we know where she is coming from, which means we also now know where she needs to go.

Shall we examine this fine bit of set design?

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Notice the pin markers in her globe. Are these places she has already gone with the Avengers, or places that she dreams of going? Her life before wasn’t exactly one where she could dream, it was a life of survival and vengeance. She was experimented on and became this insanely enhanced person.

Despite all that she lost before, her normal life, her parents, and especially her brother, I would venture to say that Wanda also feels a sense of relief. She is now free to dream again. She is young and it is a big and beautiful world just waiting to be discovered.

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The color palette in this room is very subtle and restful. Soothing grays, blues, greens, and ivory. Despite her superhero name of “Scarlet Witch”, Wanda Maximoff is very non-scarlet in her both her color choices and personality. This room is her refuge, her quiet place to be vulnerable and to dream. This room represents who she is inside, and inside she is a soft, sweet person.

See the guitar? Wanda is learning to play music. She is a very gentle soul. There is a soft throw on the back of the chair, perhaps she cuddles up in it to watch late-night movies or read a good book. A bit of laundry in the hamper? It would seem she is actually still quite normal in the fact that she is procrastinating laundry day.

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Her shelf. It has books, a glass globe (I have one like it), candles, and this oh-so-telling bulletin board which I will get to in a minute.

My favorite part here is the cute hanging rack she made with a gold chain and a feather. Feathers represent freedom and whimsy, a side of Wanda we never saw in Age of Ultron. She has a feminine pair of dangly earrings hung on this homemade rack. I’ll just bet you she got the idea to make it when she saw a similar idea on Pinterest. Wanda can manipulate and create with her powers, but she can also create beautiful things with her hands.

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We can see a photo of what is obviously little Pietro. It is both sweet and heartbreaking. There are also photos of dogs and a cat. Were they her pets? Or does she just love animals? This bulletin board is completely stuffed. Memories matter to Wanda, she treasures them. She has experienced other people’s memories through the visions she gave them, how telling that she keeps her own memories out in plain view, even the tragic ones.

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More subtle colors. Another glimpse of her stuffed bulletin board. A stray headband that she never put away. Baskets stuffed with what looks like stationary or scrap booking materials. And the final detail, a cross necklace hung in the background. Could it be a part of her past, or has faith become a part of her life since the events in Sokovia?

Dreams. Memories. Sweetness. Peace. Refuge. Femininity. We learned all of this just from the background setting, this doesn’t even include everything we learned in Wanda’s conversation with Steve.

This is not the room of a child, nor is it the room of a woman. It is the room of someone who is in between. It is a room reminiscent of the childhood that she never got to have, but it is also longing for the womanhood she is not yet sure how to grasp. Instead, she is a girl caught in the middle between fear and vulnerability, and bold strength.

Wanda made huge strides to grow and become braver. She faced down her fear when Vision confronted her and she triumphed. Everyone is well aware of just how powerful she is, she is not lacking for capabilities to protect both herself and others.

But underneath all of that, Wanda still has a sweetness that needs to be protected. All those who know her feel that and try to guard her. Steve, Vision, Clint, even Tony. She’s the baby Avenger, the kid sister, the girl who they have all grown to love and want to protect. I think Pietro would feel great relief to know that his sister is so well looked after.

We were truly introduced to Wanda Maximoff for the first time in Civil War. And we were introduced so subtly and organically that we never even noticed it.

Meet Wanda Maximoff, a sweet young woman with a heart that’s even bigger than her beautiful eyes.

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The Need for a Sparring Partner- Part 2

Sparring partners can come in many forms. They can be good friends and allies. They are often love interests. Many sparring partners actually come in the form of villains who, by adding negative pressure, force the hero to get stronger. A sparring partner can also come in the form of a setting or circumstance.

Here are a few examples of good sparring partners.

Love Interest Sparring Partners

Han Solo and Princess Leia

There is no question that Han’s interest in Leia opened the door for him to reveal his big heart and put it out on his sleeve. Han’s drive to fight for Leia, Luke, and the Rebellion pushed him to greater things and more selflessness than ever before.

Leia’s love for Han opened up places in her heart that she had carefully shielded. She is a more well-rounded person because of him.

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And let us all just recognize the masterpiece that are Han and Leia’s verbal exchanges. I think some of the most legendary film dialogue ever written takes place in The Empire Strikes Back.

Finn and Rey

In the course of just a few days, Finn goes from being a frightened Stormtrooper to charging fearlessly into Starkiller Base and dueling with a Dark Side warrior. Finn makes this incredible 180 turnaround because of one person: Rey. Rey simply being who she is pushes Finn to desire to be better, to be more. And that mighty person is exactly what he becomes.

Likewise, Finn touches Rey’s heart by being the first person in her life who has shown her concern, care, and friendship. His choices regarding her make a huge impact on her chosen direction. Finn was a catalyst in Rey’s life that helped move her down the path she is destined for.

Barry Allen and Iris West 

I wish I had time to cover everything I have to say on the subject of West-Allen. I promise you, there is a juicy article in the works.

Barry Allen has been in love with Iris West since forever. Iris has always believed in Barry, even when he didn’t believe in himself. The combination of these two is dynamite.

Barry runs faster, punches harder, and doesn’t give up because he knows that Iris believes in him. She is his inspiration as well as his home.

Iris has always been inspired by Barry, she has always believed in him, even before he became the Flash. Her relationship with Barry throughout the years has helped shape her into a compassionate and mighty person who makes things happen. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind to Barry, even when he doesn’t want to listen.

Like I said, dynamite.

Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter

*Sigh*, we’ve lived this story so many times and it always hurts. But it still wows me.

Steve Rogers immediately saw the strength, dignity, and heart in Peggy Carter. She was everything he could have ever dreamed for in a woman. Knowing her made him want to be better all the time. He carries a picture of her in his compass because Peggy is his true north, his guide, even after her death her words and heart still reach him at his core.

Peggy Carter was almost instantaneously impacted by Steve Rogers. She fell in love with him on Day 1 and his memory inspired pretty much her entire life. She felt that no one, including her, could ever hope to be everything that Steve was. Keeping him in mind, Peggy lived a legendary life that inspired others.

Best Friends

Steve and Bucky

They are with each other “To the end of the line.” 

Growing up, Bucky kept Steve alive. He never failed to have Steve’s back. He took punches, fought battles, and held his friend up through anything. Knowing that scrawny kid from Brooklyn with the massive heart made Bucky into the best friend everyone dreams of. He is a total hero. Without Bucky, there never would have been Captain America

Steve had the best friend in the world, one he could always depend on. When Steve thought he lost Bucky, he kept going with Bucky still sitting in his heart. The knowledge of who Bucky was and the sacrifices he willingly made hugely impacted Steve’s life choices. Later on, when Steve learned Bucky wasn’t actually dead but now a brainwashed assassin, Steve didn’t write his friend off. He walked through fire and ice to save his friend, without hesitation.

Hiccup and Toothless

Hiccup Haddock began to come into his own as soon as he met Toothless. While Hiccup already had many unrecognized talents and abilities, he never had a reason to bring them forward until he met his dragon. Toothless made Hiccup grow into a selfless leader who is constantly improving. Hiccup never settles or stays stagnant, he is always improving, always growing.

Bonding with Hiccup pushed Toothless beyond the bounds of ordinary dragons. Toothless was already an extraordinary dragon, but his great love for Hiccup has pushed him to do things that go even against his own biological instinct. The greatest example of this is when he challenges the Alpha Bewilderbeast in order to protect Hiccup.

Hiccup and Toothless are stronger together, they inspire and push each other to greater heights all the time.

Woody and Buzz

Despite a rough beginning, Woody and Buzz have a friendship that real life people are jealous of. While Woody at first felt threatened by Buzz’s strong presence, he has since grown to appreciate and lean on this brave little space ranger’s shoulder. Woody helped Buzz face reality, learn resourcefulness, and taught him the joy of being a child’s toy.

Buzz is Woody’s backbone. When Woody needs support, Buzz is there. When Woody can’t lead the other toys, Buzz steps up to the plate. When Woody forgets who he is and what being a toy means, Buzz is there to remind him. Great friends remind each other who they are when one has forgotten.

Woody and Buzz make each other better, they fill each other out and made one heck of a team.

Enemies

Flash and Reverse Flash

Run, Barry, run!

Eobard Thawne (aka Harrison Wells/The Reverse Flash) is a top example of a how a villain can be an excellent sparring partner.

Thawne is incredibly layered and complex because he has been the friend, mentor, villain, and created circumstances that have all shaped Barry and forced him to become better. Thawne is constantly moving around and changing up his strategy to manipulate Barry’s actions. That being said, everything that Thawne has done has still made Barry faster, stronger, and smarter.

 

Barry continually overcomes obstacles and springs back up. Whenever Thawne thinks he has won, or at least stolen something from Barry, the strength of Barry’s will and heart still carry the day. Thawne continually has to change and evolve his strategy because he just can’t seem to take a good Barry down.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

There are dozens of articles waiting to happen regarding the Skywalker family. I’ll try to keep it simple here for now.

Luke Skywalker came onto the scene as a whiny kid who had raw talent and Force abilities. And he was in WAY OVER HIS HEAD. Still, he had a enough mentoring in the form of Obi-Wan to jump-start his Jedi career. He also adopted his own personal enemy, the scary guy known as Darth Vader.

Luke was driven to conquer Vader for multiple reasons. He knew Vader to be the villain that destroyed his father (whom Luke worships), Vader killed his mentor (Obi-Wan), and Luke knows that in order to become a powerful Jedi, defeating Vader is his primary concern.

This drive to defeat Vader pushes Luke to train. His time spent on Dagobah was all geared towards his impending confrontation with Vader. Mentally, and physically, Luke was preparing himself for the sole goal of defeating Vader. And then, SURPRISE!

This was a huge moment for Luke’s character. Everything could have fallen apart right here, but lucky for us Luke was smart enough to fall down a ventilation shaft and get the heck outta there.

By the sixth movie, Luke’s goal and drive was to win his father back. He was calm, focused, and frighteningly strong. He faced down Vader and the Emperor without fear. He declared himself to be a true Jedi and confirmed his belief in the good left in Anakin Skywalker. Because of his back and forth battle with Vader, emotionally, physically, and mentally, Luke walks out of Return of the Jedi a total superstar.

 

Darth Vader was trapped. He was evil, he hated the Emperor, and he hated himself. But he was too weak to do anything about it. Until he met Luke.

“The Force is strong with this one.” He becomes obsessed with tracking Luke down and bringing Luke over to his side to join him and overthrow the Emperor.

But that Luke is just too darned determined! He’s slippery, he has good friends who have his back, and Luke is surprisingly strong. Vader has to keep thinking outside of the carbonite chamber in order to track Luke down.

He tries to play the “I’m your Daddy, I know you have Daddy issues” card and his kid purposely falls down a ventilation shaft to get away.

Luke awakens something in Vader. He awakens whatever is left of Anakin that is buried inside of this dark Sith lord.

Vader is in awe of this kid, his kid, who keeps popping back up and just getting stronger all the time. Vader is at war within himself, the Dark and Light side are both tugging at him. One side is his enslaved mind to his Master, and on the other side is his love and admiration for his son.

Luke’s faithfulness and strength are strong enough to make Darth Vader shake himself out of years of darkness and slavery, and overcome the evil that is both himself and the Emperor.

If Luke had never been forced to face Vader, he wouldn’t be so strong. And if Luke hadn’t been so strong, Vader never would have returned to being Anakin. That right there is a showcase of the great power of a excellent sparring partner.

Vader and Luke were sparring partners from the very beginning, even though the nature of their interaction with each other evolved and changed throughout the story.

Setting/Circumstance

Mars and Mark Watney

The Martian has to be one of the best films I have ever seen. It was man vs. Mars wrapped up in a dramatic, yet lighthearted and educational package..

There is no villain in The Martian, but there is an antagonist, and one heck of a sparring partner: Mars.

An inanimate object, a thing with no mind, will, or emotions still takes on the role of the opposition. In order to stay alive, Mark Watney has to essentially beat Mars. He has to out-think, out-math, out-science, out-wit, and out-mental Mars.

Mars proves to be a pretty tough sparring partner. It constantly throws things Mark’s way that almost kill him.

Mark jumps through hoops, solves seemingly impossible equations, and comes up with gadgets and gizmos that would make MacGyver weep. Mark also grows very mentally strong during this ordeal. While he faces heartache, loneliness, despair, and fear, he never gives up.

The Mark Watney who went into space with his buddies is not the same Mark Watney that comes back to earth. He has conquered the unimaginable and come out victorious.

Mark still has an affection for Mars. Even though just about every aspect of Mars was trying to kill him on a regular basis, Mark appreciated the beauty and wonder of Mars. Mars was practically became a character in its own right.

Mark’s character sparred with Mars and he grew exponentially. Those watching Mark grew. Mark’s goal to stay in the match (stay alive) with Mars created a ripple effect that went all the way down to earth. Thousands of people were effected and made stronger by the match with Mars.

Jurassic Park Movies- Man Vs. Nature

Yet another series that I have so much to say on, but now is not the time.

The Jurassic Park films are an amazing example of using setting/circumstance as a sparring partner. I put the dinosaurs into the category of setting because the dinosaurs are not dangerous for any emotional or personal reason. This takes the soul and emotion out of the situation, fitting it more into the category of an emotionless setting or circumstance rather than an emotionally-driven character.

While there are human villains in these films, those humans and their effective harm pale in comparison to the dinosaurs and the damage they cause.

Yes, a dinosaur is a living creature, but it is a creature without a spirit and soul. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are merely behaving out of their instincts, making them less personal, but no-less deadly. This of course was changed in Jurassic World, when the Indominus Rex began to rampage beyond the need for food or defense, but instead merely for sport.

The characters in the first 3 Jurassic films often go into the situation with wide-eyes and little wisdom.

It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are pretty well out-matched and they are going to have to adapt and learn fast if they want to live.

The ones who make it out do so because their characters had a growth spurt. They learned to stop underestimating these animals. They learn the animals’ strengths and weaknesses.

The animals also change and adapt. The velociraptors in particular. They experience new circumstances, absorb the information, and then adapt to the new situation. More than any other dinosaur species in this movie series, the velociraptors prove that they are not stagnant and will continue to change and grow. That makes them ever-increasingly difficult to defeat.

This is an incredibly unique set-up, one where an animal is the human’s great sparring partner/enemy, but the non-emotional creature is also learning and growing because of the human’s involvement.

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The need for good sparring partners is vital for any story, be it a film, a book, or your real life. I draw a lot from studying these interactions on screen, and I hope now you can too.

What type of sparring partners do you enjoy the most? Villains and heroes? Love interests? Best friends? Setting/circumstance? What are some of your favorite sparring partners on screen? Do you have great real life sparring partners that help you grow and mature?

I’d love to hear your stories and your opinions. Share what you love, I want to know what you think.

And if you missed my previous article, you can find it here.

 

 

 

 

 

25 of My Favorite Movie Lines

It is the 25th post on reellifebygrace today! I thought I would have some fun with this number and keep it simple by sharing 25 of my favorite movie lines. These are in no particular order and are merely here to make you smile.

1.”It’s like America, but south!” (Ellie, Up)

I am a big South America fangirl. I understand the deep wonder and excitement that Ellie and Carl have for that mysterious continent. Not to mention, this scene is just the cutest thing ever.

2. “I love you.” “I know.” (Han Solo/Leia, The Empire Strikes Back)

Han and Leia’s romance is one of the top movie romances in the world. I love, LOVE their interaction. This scene is so iconic to Star Wars fans for so many reasons. My favorite bit of trivia about this scene is that Harrison Ford came up with his classic I know response on the spot, and a legendary line was born.

To top this amazing line off, the roles are later reversed in Return of the Jedi when Han says “I love you” to Leia. She gets a twinkle in her eye as she replies “I know.” What a great tie-in between the two movies.

3. “Uh, mebbe I shoulda hooked him up to Bessie, an then took the boot off.” (Mater, Cars)

A classic “DUH” moment that is made totally adorable by Mater. He takes Lightening McQueen’s handcuff “boot” off before he hooked McQueen up to Bessie, the enormous asphalt machine.  My dad always laughs at this part, so it is a fond moment for me.

4. “My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, but I’m okay with that now.” (Khalil, Veggie Tales: Jonah)

If you have never seen Khalil the caterpillar, look up some clips on Youtube. He is utterly hilarious and a top-quote character for Veggie Tales fans.

5. “I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously. To which are you referring?” (Spock, Star Trek: Into the Darkness)

SPOCK SASS! I love Spock.

6. “I think I heard a whoosh.” (Emmet, The LEGO Movie)

Emmet is totally adorable, and this line cracks me up. I can just see Chris Pratt saying this himself. I’d be willing to bet Chris Pratt really is Emmet in so many ways. I feel like if we went inside of Chris Pratt’s mind we would find a double-decker couch in there somewhere.

There are a million hilarious and quotable lines from this movie, I had to just grab one off the cuff.

7. “You hesitated.” (Olaf, Frozen)

Again, so many quotable lines to choose from in Frozen, but this one always cracks me up because of the timing. Anna’s hair is turning white and it’s freaking Kristoff out. Her cute little feminine query, “Does it look bad?” is something so many gals can identify with. Poor Kristoff waits a half second longer than he should to reply, and his fate is sealed. So many males identify with this.

Haha, Olaf isn’t buying it.

8. “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn….I can do this all day.” (Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger)

I make no secret about my love for this guy. I really feel like these two lines (they are really a part of the same thought) entirely sum up this extraordinary guy.

It’s even better because of all of the follow-up times when Steve uses his signature lines. He never gives up. It’s the Steve Roger’s version of just keep swimming. 

How do you compete with that?

9. “Obviously. Yes, I am. I’m with the Resistance, yeah, *whispers* I am with the Resistance.” (Finn, The Force Awakens)

This kid is so stinkin’ adorable. I fell in love with him on like Line 3. He was so unlike any of the previous Star Wars main heroes. He was so not confident he felt so normal and human. His instant crush on Rey is all the cuter as he seeks to impress her with his “Resistance” status.

Aren’t they adorable?

10. “What do you still have it for?!? I can’t believe you had THAT in your purse!” (Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy)

Obviously I just picked out one gem among that treasure trove of quotable lines that is Guardians of the Galaxy. This one however, cracks me up even when I’m not watching the movie.

The orb just blew up and the Guardians are all in shock. Rocket’s line is hilarious enough, but it’s made even more hilarious by the fact that he and Peter Quill start having the purse vs. knapsack argument right then and there.

11. “Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow!” (Mushu, Mulan)

Using this line as a comeback will either end the argument with your opponent defeated, or you will make a new best Disney friend.

12. “Great, where are we going?” (Pippin, The Fellowship of the Ring)

I’m going for more comical than deep today. Pippin is a great moment of comedic relief in the epic but exhausting saga that is Lord of the Rings. This line is so hilarious in that you-have-no-idea-kid kind of way. It’s even funnier because this stupid line totally breaks up the solemn and dramatic gravity of Elrond’s “you shall be the Fellowship of the Ring” statement.

What an adorable idiot!

13. “And Daddy! He stole my boot!” (Jane, Tarzan)

Jane is a highly underrated Disney lady. She’s charming, adorable, and says the cutest things. She has the most rambling way of getting to the point. It’s even cuter how her round and squishy little professor Daddy follows her bizarre thoughts easily.

This line is when Jane returns from  having met “the wild man” Tarzan. She’s babbling away about this strange creature, only to stop in the middle of her ramble to talk about the theft of her boot. I do this sometimes, so this line always cracks me up. I can’t find this particular line, but here’s a cute scene that will give you a great example of her adorable dialogue.

14. “These mashed potatoes are SO creamy!” (Midge, While You Were Sleeping)

I cheated by using this line to introduce one whole scene full of hilarious lines. Lucy is eating dinner with Peter’s family and about 3 different conversations are happening at once. She and Jack never say a word but smile at each other through the chaos. It’s a hilarious scene, one that I completely understand because I grew up in a large family. I promise you, this is completely realistic.

This movie is priceless!

15. “Whaaaaattt???” (Minion, Despicable Me)

This gif works for EVERYTHING.

16. “You should know, that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever done!” (Flynn Rider, Tangled)

Flynn Rider broke so many rules for Disney guys, I think that’s why he is so beloved. This scene is hilarious.

17. “I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy.” (Dory, Finding Nemo)

This is everyone literally every time they see something adorable.

18. “School mascot by day, but by night….I am also a school mascot.” (Fred, Big Hero 6)

He’s so hilarious!

19. “I’ve never put on pantyhose, but it sounds dangerous.” (Joseph, The Princess Diaries)

Fellas, you just have no idea the truth of this statement. I laugh really hard at this line because pantyhose are HORRIBLE! They itch, they pull, they rip, they slip, and you have no guarantees about the length of your life when you start putting them on. They are DANGEROUS!

20. “Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.” (Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon)

Hiccup Haddock is one of the greatest things animation has ever brought the world. I flat-out adore this guy. His dry and sarcastic sense of humor is one of the best aspects of this character.

21. “I was with the Navy, not the Navajo.” (Owen, Jurassic World)

There’s a reason Chris Pratt keeps sneaking in here. He’s amazing. I love Owen’s face when Claire looks expectantly at him after asking him to track down her nephews. He gives her this look repeatedly throughout the movie.

22. “Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather.” (Loki, Thor: The Dark World)

Loki gets the best lines.

23. “The word I’m searching for, I can’t say because there’s preschool toys present.” (Woody, Toy Story)

This is a great way to express your emotions in a situation without getting profane.

24. “So yeah, I blew myself up.” (Mark, The Martian)

Mark’s running dialogue for this movie was utterly amazing. He had a great sense of humor that kept things from getting too heavy. Amazing!

25. “If I see one, I shall inform you immediately.” (Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

This is one of my favorite little interchanges throughout this funny movie.

And there you have it! 25 great movie lines from some wonderful movies. This was actually far more complicated than I had anticipated. Good thing I chose to do this post for my 25th instead of my 100th. Merry movie-watching to you all!

 

Civil War: Steve Rogers, Just a Kid From Brooklyn

It’s been over a month since Civil War came out, where did the time go? I have deeply enjoyed writing multiple posts about different aspects and characters that stood out to me in this movie.

I pointed out Why the Sokovia Accords Were a Waste of Paper.

I talked about the neat potential for future interaction with Spiderman and Steve.

I greatly enjoyed rehashing that fantastic airport battle that was Avengers vs. Avengers.

I discussed Natasha Romanoff’s close relationship with Steve and the importance of that friendship to the plot.

I touched on why it was so important for Vision to be the one to fail and injure War Machine.

And finally, I told The Tragic Tale of Tony Stark.

But while I talked about so many different angles and characters in this movie, I seem to have forgotten the star player, namely: Steve Rogers, Captain America.

First off, I haven’t forgotten him. I could never forget Steve Rogers, he has been, is, and will always be my favorite superhero. Steve has been in the back part of my mind as a reference point, an anchor when writing all of these other posts. I wanted to end my Civil War discussion on the man himself.

But when I got here, I hit a wall. This is literally the 7th post about Steve Rogers that I have written. Nothing seemed to stick, and nothing felt right. It seemed as though everything I wrote failed to say what was in my heart. You might say that my posts lacked conviction.

I finally decided that I am simply going to touch on the significant moments of this incredible man’s story that have led us to where he currently is. The story of Steve Rogers is one of finding heroism in an ordinary human, and discovering that what at first glance looks ordinary, actually turns out to be the extraordinary.

Captain America: The First Avenger. While Steve started out physically weak, the strength of his heart won him the privilege of becoming superhuman. It was fantastic!  Suddenly, every battle that Steve had fought before and could never win now became like a walk in the park. Steve takes down one bully after another while winning the admiration of the world, his comrades, and Peggy Carter. Playing the hero came to him as naturally as breathing.

And then the rubber hit the road, and Steve lost Bucky during a mission. And we aren’t talking a “fatally wounded, last words” kind of scene. We are talking about seeing your best friend fall screaming to his death. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that Steve had muscles, because despite his best efforts, his heart had just been ripped out.

Steve had to learn a hard lesson through Bucky’s “death”. First, he had to learn to allow people the dignity of their choice, as Peggy so eloquently put it. He had to accept the fact that his choices were going to spur others into action, and sometimes those choices were going to lead to unchangeable consequences. Steve also had to accept the fact that he wouldn’t be able to save everyone. He may be superhuman, but he was still human, and he had his limitations.

Finally, Steve had to make the ultimate sacrifice and give up his life, his hope for a future with Peggy, everything, to save the world. He had to face death, and in truth, it terrified him.

The moments before he crashes into the ice are heartbreaking. Steve doesn’t want to be alone as he dies, he reaches out to Peggy across the radio for a last bit of comfort and connection. The bond between these two characters is unique and incredible. This moment becomes all the more devastating when you see later on just how lost and alone Steve feels without Peggy. This moment was death to more than just his life, for years, it will be a death to his sense of belonging. When he wakes up, he will be a man out of place in history, and he can never go back.

The Avengers. Steve wakes up to a world gone mad where he is more alone than most of us can comprehend. His life has to feel like a nightmare that he cannot wake up from. Nothing is familiar, he has no friends left, and, the world he gave up everything to save is about to be destroyed again. The love of his life is in her 90’s at a nursing home. He feels obsolete and out of the loop. He traded out Howard Stark for Tony Stark (I prefer Tony, but just imagine how weird that situation would be). The world has gotten even stranger. 

Steve, a man out of time

Steve has to choose whether or not he is going to engage in this modern world and accept the new family offered to him. While he is naturally ready to step forward and be a hero, he still has some emotional barriers to get over. Steve makes the choice to stand and fight, leading the Avengers into battle. He takes up his shield again and steps firmly into the role of Captain America.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Identity crisis. Steve is trying to embrace the modern world, but at the same time stay true to his values. He is finding it impossible within the gray walls and ambiguous morals of SHIELD. Everyone around him is telling him it’s time to get with the program and dial down his strong moral compass. The message Steve is getting is, “The world is more complicated now, and your perspective is old fashioned and obsolete.” Steve wonders if he is just being a fool, or if he will be able to fit in anywhere. He is achingly lonely and doesn’t know who to be.

Steve forms two very vital friendships with Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson in this movie. They become his closest allies in his new life. As the movie goes on, and Hydra is revealed within SHIELD, Steve and the rest of the good guys come to the conclusion that he was right all along. Steve’s clear sense of right and wrong, tyranny vs. freedom is exactly what the world needs right now to stay intact. Steve is able to save the world again because he stayed true to who he is. Almost as a secondary identity crisis, Steve comes face to face with Bucky again. Suddenly, his past isn’t just sitting on display in the Smithsonian, his best friend is alive and working for the bad guys.

Steve saves the world first, then, he saves his friend. Captain America comes first, and then Steve Rogers. Interestingly enough, it’s not Captain America who breaks through Bucky’s foggy and icy mind, it is Steve Rogers, the kid from Brooklyn.

with you to the end of the line

Avengers: Age of Ultron. This movie really could have also been titled, Pre-Civil War. Steve and Tony clash intensely over Ultron and then subsequently Vision. Tony wants to build a suit of armor around the world. Steve knows that this is impossible, and the attempt will cost more than it will gain. Still, when it’s down to the wire, Steve leads the Avengers to Sokovia to go clean up Tony’s mess, willingly stepping forward to share in the responsibility and aftermath of Tony’s mistakes.

Personally, this movie really show-cases a very dark and despairing place in Steve’s soul. His vision given by Wanda reveals the heavy loneliness inside of him. He feels forever trapped by war, unable to reach out for peace. The loose ends of his life from the past are just blowing around in the breeze, mocking him. At the end of the movie, Steve settles for the mantle of Captain America as his only role. He seems to have given up on the concept of having a life outside of the shield and believes that this is the only place he will ever “belong”.

Steve, giving up

As a fan, it scared me to death. It was almost like Steve was committing partial suicide, dying to the idea of a future outside of fighting and one day dying in the line of duty. Steve hasn’t given up on the world, but I think he gave up on himself.

Captain America:Civil War. I believe that for Steve, Civil War was the movie that tied together all of his previous plot threads, and then, it began some new ones.

Steve is leading the Avengers with the skill and confidence of a leader. He owns them as his family and takes care of them with almost a fatherly attitude. Steve is willing to acknowledge and take partial responsibility for the tragedy of the bombing in Nigeria, but he refuses to waste time on guilt or fear of failure. When the Sokovia Accords are dropped on the table, he knows where he stands, but you can see the sadness in his eyes. His world is changing drastically once more, and the new people that he has come to love are going to be divided. The new “normal” that he adjusted to is shifting.

A deep chapter of Steve’s life is closed with the death of Peggy Carter. The living reminder of the dream that could never be is now laid to rest. Steve’s devastation at Peggy’s funeral broke my heart. Despite Sam and Natasha being near, he feels so alone.

Sad Steve

At the perfect moment, Sharon Carter steps into the scene. It’s almost like she picks up right where Peggy left off. Steve looks up at her and a hint of a spark fills his eyes. She smiles understandingly at him, and then proceeds to give one last piece of Peggy wisdom. A piece of wisdom that helps bring some peace to his heart. Even from the grave, Peggy Carter is touching Steve’s life.

Sharon is very much a worthy follow-up to Peggy. She is brave, intelligent, honest, compassionate, and lovely. She has traces of Peggy all throughout her, but she is also a child of this new world that Steve has adopted. She represents the best things of both the past and future.

Civil War really showcases Steve Rogers at a place of identity crisis. He’s not struggling with what he believes, but rather, who and what is he supposed to be anymore? The role of Captain America has been taken from him, but he has not given it up willingly. Peggy is gone, but now there is Sharon. Sharon represents the hope of a future, a future that Steve has almost entirely shut himself off to. Bucky is back, but the whole world is on a witch hunt for him.

Steve goes through this movie sticking to what he knows best. Fight for what’s right, protect my friends, don’t give up freedom. These motions are incredibly familiar to him, but as we begin to see towards the end of the movie, this format that Steve used his entire adult life will not last forever.

Truthfully, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the whole Tony/Bucky/Steve clash at the end. It was so awesome and so horrible all it once. Tony was so, SO angry. And who can blame him? His mother, his favorite person in the world was murdered. He hated his dad, but also wanted his dad’s approval, and any chance of that was cut off when his dad was murdered. Bucky did it, and Steve knew about it and didn’t tell Tony. Tony feels so betrayed, and so angry. He’s pretty much bleeding out and mad as heck.

Tony sees red. He doesn’t care at this point, he is acting out of raw anger and sadness. He is going for the kill. I think Steve’s interaction with Tony is pretty tell-tale of where he is at emotionally. He will fight tooth and nail to save Bucky, but when given the chance, he doesn’t kill Tony, he only takes out the arc reactor. Tony was anticipating a death blow, but instead, Steve just disarmed him. Steve walks away from the fight helping an injured Bucky, and leaves Tony alive behind him.

There are many reasons for this. For one, Steve doesn’t murder people. He kills when necessary, but he never acts out of vengeance. Two, Steve doesn’t blame Tony for how he feels. Steve knows that keeping the information surrounding the Starks’ death was a wrong choice. I don’t know if he knows what to do with it, or how to feel. But he never acts in anger towards Tony, even when they are exchanging punches. There is no condemnation in his actions.

But I think one major point of all of Steve’s actions is this- no man left behind. Steve is tired of being alone, he’s tired of losing people, and he knows for a fact that he isn’t going to give up on them. At the end of Civil War, Steve has laid down the shield for a while. He’s going to explore what it means to be Steve Rogers outside of Captain America. He’s going to stick by the people who matter to him, including Tony. All of Steve’s friends know that he will never give up on them.

I also think Steve may have decided to stop giving up on himself. When Tony called after him to say the shield belonged to Tony’s father, Steve glances down and drops it without regret. That shield has been his only identity for so long, and he needs to leave it behind for a while. Will he pick it up again in the future? Sure he will, he’s Captain America. But right now he just needs to be Steve Rogers. He needs to step away. He needs to heal.

I think both Steve and Tony are really hurting and broken up. Steve’s pain isn’t as visibly noticeable as Tony’s because he is a very different person. Sometimes characters like Steve are passed over and thought of as perfect and untouchable. They never make huge, dramatic mistakes, so the assumption is made that they never struggle. But let me tell you, he struggles. His heart breaks. He bleeds, every bit as much as Tony does. Steve has felt alone in a way very few of us can comprehend, with the exception of veterans who are the final, surviving members of their group. I can’t even imagine how terrible that must feel.

The image of the Captain America shield stuck on top of the arc reactor was a very striking one. It symbolized that Captain America won that particular battle. But even more so, I think it may be foreshadowing that Steve, being who he is, is going to help Tony heal and conquer the struggles in his heart. We all saw the beginnings of that healing in Tony’s face as he read Steve’s letter at the end.

In turn, Tony’s actions have pushed Steve to a new place. They forced him to evaluate what matters most to him. Tony’s choices moved Steve beyond where he was stuck in a rut and forced him to drop the shield. Without it, Steve is just a kid from Brooklyn again.

And for the first time in his life, that is all he is going to be. It’s uncharted territory, and Steve really has no idea where to go from here. But he’s ready now, and new chapter has begun and a whole new slew of plot threads have been opened.

Civil War really brought an end to both Iron Man and Captain America as we know them. They both “lost” themselves in a sense, but I don’t believe that was such a bad thing. They were brought face to face with their inner demons and survived. Now they are left picking up the pieces, and wondering “what next?”

I’m OK with this. We as people often have to break out of a way of life, an attitude, or a place of grief in order to move on. The battle is ugly, but the results are beautiful. We come forth stronger for it. I fully believe this will be the case for Steve Rogers.

Captain America will return, I have no doubt of that. But I think that when he does, there will be more of Steve Rogers behind the shield than there was before. Captain America only means something to us because of Steve Rogers. I knew that, and you knew that, but I don’t think Steve did. Maybe now he has the time to learn.

I love the character of Steve Rogers so much. He has touched me in so many ways, as well as millions of other people. His good heart encourages me, his perseverance is inspiring, and his compassion is beautiful. I am so grateful to have the pleasure of watching and enjoying this character on screen, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Steve Rogers/Captain America.

*****

What did you think of Civil War? Did you agree with my thoughts on Steve’s role in this movie? What are your theories about what happens next to the kid from Brooklyn? Would you have changed anything about this movie?

It has been a pleasure to share this amazing film with you all, I look forward to many more posts in the future.

 

5 Reasons Why Captain America Will NEVER Become Hydra

You’ve probably read about the new comic book issue of Captain America where he is revealed to a double agent for Hydra.

I will admit, the moment I read the news I got pretty riled up. I do not read the comics myself, but I have done a lot of research into certain character’s backgrounds, Cap’s being one of them. There is just so much material to work with. But I am a huge movie fan and Captain America is my favorite superhero. Hearing that his good name was being defamed in a comic book, even as he continues to be a hero on-screen just hurt my  fangirl heart. Thousands of others feel the same way, if the explosion of outrage is any indication. It has honestly gotten out of hand with people making extreme threats and saying horrible things. Let me just take a minute here to say this. It’s very hypocritical to express love for a character who stands for goodness, justice, and freedom, only to later spew toxic waste out of your mouth towards someone for doing something you don’t like regarding that character. Guys, this is JUST a fictional story, these are FICTIONAL characters, and the individuals you are threatening are REAL people who have value and dignity. Let’s always keep that at the forefront of our minds when expressing our displeasure over something.

That being said, I was truly upset by this. We get very attached to our heroes, even if they are just fictional ones. And Captain America is like the pinnacle of a heroic good guy, and he has been that for 75 years.

But after my emotions had time to cool, and I spent a little bit more time in thought about this idea. It makes absolutely no sense for Marvel to turn their golden boy into a villain given the extreme success he has had both in print and on the screen. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this is an incredibly effective (and incredibly aggravating) play on Marvel’s part to stir up a controversial media storm. In time, this plot twist will be explained and Captain America’s good character shall be restored. And here are 5 reasons why.

(1) Captain America is a pillar in American History. A recent documentary put out by Marvel celebrating 75 years of Captain America is incredibly eye-opening into just how intertwined the Star Spangled Man is with our real, life American history. Since the 1940s when Cap made his debut punching Adolf Hitler in the face, Captain America has had a response to the current events different generations of Americans have been facing. In every decade, Captain America has represented freedom, justice, and a moral compass that is both inspiring and comforting. He as a character has been a thread that tied multiple generations and events in history together.

(2) Captain America was created by two Jewish men, Jack Kirby and Joe SimonThese two men created a character who stood in the face of Nazi injustice. He never gave up, never gave in, and always stood up to defend those who could not defend themselves. To make the character of Steve Rogers a Nazi now would be grossly inappropriate and fly in the face of what those two men created. Even though I believe this plot twist to be a way to stir up controversy and gain some media attention, I find it incredibly cheap and highly inappropriate. It is glaringly disrespectful to the two men (both of whom were in the service during WWII) and the legacy that they left behind. For shame!

(3) Captain America is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. While we enjoy Tony Stark’s snark, the off-the-wall randomness of Peter Quill, or feel giddy when we watch Hawkeye hit yet another bullseye, there is just no one like Captain America. Even if he is not your personal favorite like he is mine, he represents a stabilizing force that makes you feel secure and gives you someone to believe in. He’s loyal, reliable, consistent, and reminds you that there are still good people in this world who are willing to stand up for what is right. Sure, he’s fictional. But the magnificent thing about fictional characters is that they serve to highlight and accent truths about people in reality. Captain America represents the best part of who we are as Americans, is they said in the documentary, that is all he was intended to be.

(4) It would break America’s heart. If the huge amount of backlash is any indication, it already has. I have yet to read one positive reaction to this Hydra development. Even Chris Evans, the guy who has played Captain America for the last several years and really become this icon has responded with shock.

Chris Evans tweet

We live in a world where we often see our heroes fall. Sports celebrities, politicians, actors, prominent pastors and speakers, any one on a pedestal. It is easy to see how many people have become cynical and jaded at the thought that there is anyone who isn’t hiding some dark secret in their closet. But the truth is that not everyone has skeletons in their closet. We aren’t all about to reveal our dark side. Captain America is a good guy, a hero worth looking at and emulating. Our people, especially our younger people NEED good heroes and role models to look to. This is what Cap has been for 75 years, changing that now would be wrong.

(5) We are celebrating 75 years of Captain America. People, I bought a shirt to commemorate this. An amazing documentary was released celebrating and recounting 75 years of Cap history. The third solo Cap film, Captain America: Civil War is still kicking-rear in the box office and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Marvel isn’t so stupid as to forget all of that by ruining who Cap is.

I really and truly believe that this entire thing is a play on Marvel’s part to stir up controversy and gain attention. I think it is cheap, but I have to say, it has worked amazingly. If anyone had doubts about the loyalty of Captain America’s fanbase, those doubts are wiped out by now. This article that I have written and the thousands of other responses like it are just proof that you can’t take a good character down.

As to the comic itself, let’s just see what explanation they have for Cap’s supposed affiliation to Hydra. Meanwhile, I will continue to wear my Captain America 75 Years shirt proudly and enjoy this fictional hero that gives me hope.

 

Civil War: The Tragic Tale of Tony Stark

“We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes I’m game.”

Tony Stark: genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Iron Man. Mad scientist. An amazing individual who is currently on the road to self-destruction.

We love him. He has a wonderful sense of humor that we eagerly look forward to. His gadgets are the stuff of science fiction dreams. The whimsical way he sets up his world (Christmas stockings for his robots and AI, people, that’s adorable) charms us. Tony has a charismatic personality that rallies people around him, even if they end up ready to murder him before it is all said and done.

But in spite of all of these things, Tony Stark never feels that he is enough. A lot of this feeling stems from his obviously strained relationship with his father. I’ll save the ‘importance of good fathers’ rant for another day, but Tony Stark really is a very visual image of what the lack of support from a good father can cause. As I said yesterday, Tony Stark is also straining beneath the weight of wealth, genius, and a God complex. And at some point in his life, Tony came to the conclusion that it was his job and his job alone to save the world. And he would do it, whatever it takes.

Where does this deep drive to save the world single-highhandedly come from? Well, Tony truly does care about saving people. The better part of who he is desires to protect innocent and powerless people. Perhaps it is also compensation for all of the years he spent in selfish frivolity. But even bigger than that, Tony loves being Iron Man, and he is good at it. Just imagine for a moment how wonderful it would feel to do something that causes everyone to sing your praises and thrill at the mere sight of you? The rush of adrenaline and satisfaction that would follow saving people. Somewhere along the way, Tony Stark’s source of self-worth and identity became linked to being Iron Man, savior of the world.

“The futurist is here gentlemen! He sees all, he knows what’s best for you whether you like it or not.” Clint Barton

Often when you feel insufficient personally, you find something to attach yourself to that gives you a sense of worth and identity. A job, money, applause. Tony has all of those things, and it is in those things that he finds his self worth. He’s no different than millions of other people, but unfortunately, the consequences of his actions tend to be global.

Tony is emotionally unstable and reactionary. He’s a grown man, but he still makes a lot of decisions from a place of deep immaturity. He’s brilliant, and is used to being able to fix a problem with some coffee and a few all-nighters in the lab. He can build it, buy it, or talk his way out of it in next to no time. He doesn’t know what to do with a scenario where he can’t come up with a solution.

In Age of Ultron Scarlet Witch drew out some of Tony’s deepest fears and insecurities and revealed them to the world.

“You. Could. Have. Saved. Us. Why. Didn’t. You. Do. More?”

It’s interesting to note that Tony rushed to check on Steve first before the others, even though Hulk was still moving around. I think we can take that as a small sign of how much Tony truly loves his friend Steve.

I also find it very intriguing that it was Steve who said the above words to Tony. Steve really represents a very personal part of who Tony is. He grew up listening to his distant, genius father regale the praises of this guy named Steve Rogers who succeeded in saving the world. Given that Tony was never good enough for his father, imagine what it would feel like to constantly hear about someone who was? No wonder Tony is trying to save the world, it’s like he’s trying to be as good as Captain America and be good enough for both himself and his dead father.

Oh, and then, later on, that exact man shows up in Tony’s world with his same handsome heroism, high morals, and great ideals. As much as Tony loves Steve dearly, he is also bitter and holds a bit of hatred in his heart toward Steve. Something which all came out in the light during that final showdown between the two of them.

Tony is reactionary. He feels something, and he tries to fix it instantly. The moment he came out of this vision he was on a mission. While Ultron had been set in motion in his mind before this event, that vision was the inciting event which sent Tony Stark careening out of control.

Ultron revealed more than anything just how far Tony’s downward spiral has come.

“Ultron can’t see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that?” Wanda Maximoff

Ultron is just Tony’s current mindset put into robot form. The results? Death and destruction. Tony fails on a horrifying scale.

The destruction of Sokovia brings Tony’s ideas about creating a suit of armor around the world crashing to the ground. Literally. In Civil War we are introduced to Tony as he is reeling from the guilt of the large amount of destruction he caused. Like I said before, Tony is reactionary. What do we find him doing? Giving out millions of dollars of grants to a bunch of student projects. The scene with the grieving mother in the hallway is just salt in raw and open wounds. This is all amplified by the fact that Pepper and he aren’t together anymore. She has always been his anchor and stabilizing force, without her, he feels like a loose flag flapping in the wind.

He returns weary and raw to Avengers headquarters to be faced with a reminder again of everything that has ever gone wrong. Now, as I have said before, the ONE AND ONLY event that should have even been discussed here was Sokovia itself. None of the other battles involving Avengers were anywhere out of line.

Even so, Sokovia is laid down at the Avengers’ door when really it should all be sitting in Tony Stark’s lap. Tony feels the guilt, but he hasn’t really stepped up to receive the full responsibility for what he has done.  Then the Accords get dropped onto the table and Tony sees a way to perhaps sooth his burning conscience. In an attempt to buy penance for his soul, Tony jumps headlong into a contract with unreliable government. Honestly, I think if he wasn’t reacting and was thinking more clearly, Tony’s more logical mind would have said ‘no’. This yet again proves his immaturity though, rather than take on the blame himself and say, “Hey guys, I need help and I need you to hold me accountable.” He grabs the easy option of signing his name and now becoming the politicians’ golden boy. When you have to face the music, it is sometimes easier and to have someone else regulate your behavior rather than taking steps and initiative on your own.

Steve knows the incredible danger that the Accords present. He has spent his life defending freedom and has learned to recognize when it is being threatened. Every single instinct he possesses is telling him that this is a bad move. While it would be the easy option to make everyone happy and get out from under the spotlight (Natasha’s first instinct), Steve knows that in the long run they will lose more lives.

But an even greater comparison is drawn between these two friends.

“This job….we try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody. But if we can’t find a way to live with that…next time, maybe nobody gets saved.”

Here is one huge, glaring difference between Tony and Steve: Steve can accept failure.

That sounds really lame for a moment. But think about it. Failure is a part of life as human beings (something I discussed yesterday regarding Vision). Tony, whether he realizes it or not, equals failure as not being worth anything. It is a lie that he has believed his whole life. Tony cannot except failure, therefore, he goes so far to try and avoid it at all possible costs that he manages to fail magnificently. With the signing of the Accords, Tony is making a last ditch effort to keep himself from ever failing again.

Steve recognizes that he is going to fail because he is human. He has dealt with that and accepted it. Rather than spending all of his energy focusing on the impossible feat of not failing, Steve puts his effort into doing the best job possible while sticking to his morals.

I think deep down Tony knows that Steve is right, but all of his emotions are warring within him. He’s angry, he’s devastated, he’s scared, and he wants desperately to find redemption.

The airport battle pushes Tony deeper to a place of guilt as his best friend is injured for life because of his stubbornness. Tony begins to think that perhaps he is wrong. Throughout this entire movie I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of the old Tony Stark.

Tony follows Steve and Bucky out to the Russian prison to follow up on their hunch regarding the other Winter Soldiers. You can just feel the impending battle looming heavy in the air like a heavy, gray cloud. The cloud bursts when Zemo shows the footage of December 16, 1991.

The cloud breaks. And Tony is out for blood.

This part is probably one of the most devastating chunks of film footage I have ever witnessed. Tony is so, SO ANGRY! Everything he has ever felt about his father, himself, Steve, and now Bucky are coming to the surface. The grief over losing his mother is probably the most upsetting fact of all. It was obvious from the flashback that Tony loved his mother more than anyone else in the world. But it was also obvious that he grieves over the lack of connection with his father. He had established something of a family and connection with Steve and the other Avengers; but after Steve reveals that he has been keeping the secret of the Starks’ murder under wraps Tony feels that he has been stabbed in the gut. In a way, as much as Steve and Howard were a point of bitterness and jealousy for Tony, Steve was also a connection point with his dad. That is now gone as well.

It all explodes as Tony tries to kill Bucky. He’s only seeing red at this point, it’s pure emotion and adrenaline. Vengeance is the primary directive in his mind. I don’t know about you all, but my heart was hurting pretty bad during this entire scene.

Steve is bound and determined to save Bucky’s life, even if it is at the expense of his friendship with Tony. One thing I did notice during this movie though: Steve never, ever condemns Tony personally for his choices. While he stands firm in what he knows to be true, Steve has an almost compassionate and empathetic attitude towards Tony in this entire movie. You can almost see him hurting for his friend. There is no bitter animosity in Steve’s actions, even as he is punching Tony  repeatedly.

The fight comes to an end as Steve beats Tony down to the ground and is kneeling on his chest. Steve raises the shield above Tony, who moves to cover his neck. The look in Tony’s eyes is one of sheer terror. He truly believes that Steve is going to kill him. But we all know, that is not who Steve is.

Instead, the shield comes crashing down into the arc reactor and stays there. A very poignant image is created, the shield has crushed the arc reactor. Freedom and truth are the victor, Tony and the Accords are defeated. Tony looks both shocked and relieved. In one last quick flair of anger, he yells after a retreating Steve,

“That shield doesn’t belong to you! It belongs to my father!” 

Steve dumps the shield on the ground without a second thought. Tony lies on the ground looking broken and confused.

The movie ends with the Avengers still split, but not shattered. Tony seems to be calmer and walking around with a clearer head. He is still hurting. You can see the pain in his eyes as he watches his best friend Rhody struggle to walk. Tony seems to have accepted the fact that he had a part to play in his friend’s pain, which is progress. Of course, he designs something to help Rhody out, but what I think makes an even bigger statement is the fact that he stands by while Rhody starts rehab. When Rhody falls, Tony moves to help pick him up. I think this is incredibly symbolic of the fact that Tony is perhaps starting to understand his humanity and accept it.

We have the cute “Tony Stank” scene where the package arrives from Steve. Inside is a letter and an old flip phone. #oldguy #oldtech

“Tony, I’m glad you’re back at the compound. I don’t like the idea of you rattling around a mansion by yourself. We all need family. The Avengers are yours, maybe more so than mine. I’ve been on my own since I was 18. I never really fit in anywhere, even in the army. My faith’s in people, I guess. Individuals. And I’m happy to say that, for the most part, they haven’t let me down. Which is why I can’t let them down either. Locks can be replaced, but maybe they shouldn’t. I know I hurt you, Tony. I guess I thought by not telling you about your parents I was sparing you, but I can see now that I was really sparing myself, and I’m sorry. Hopefully one day you can understand. I wish we agreed on the Accords, I really do. I know you’re doing what you believe in, and that’s all any of us can do. That’s all any of us should… So no matter what, I promise you, if you need us – if you need me – I’ll be there.”

Tony’s face when reading the letter is very healing to watch. He has the look of a man who has just faced his inner demons, but feels freer for having fought them in the open. He also smiles and seems to receive Steve’s earnest apology. There is no sarcasm or bitterness in his eyes this time, instead, there is something resembling peace. Maybe he and Steve can repair the damage and start afresh.

He ends the scene by putting Secretary Ross on hold, an action which I believe is symbolic of the fact that Tony is beginning to change his perspective.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Tony Stark has been on the road to hell for a while, and in Civil War I believe he walked right through it. But sometimes in order to heal and become whole, you have to walk through hell and then climb back up again into the light. Luckily for Tony, he is surrounded by people who will have his back and are willing to walk walk with him. After all, how do the Avengers do anything?

Together.

What did you think of Tony in this movie? Were you Team Iron Man, and if so, was it for political reasons or just because you like him? What scenes made you feel the most? Where do you think Tony will go from here?

If you liked this article, you might like these as well! Civil War: Why Vision Needed to Fail Civil War: Natasha Romanoff, Steve’s Friend Civil War: The First Annual Avenger’s Football Game Civil War: Spiderman, Meet Steve Civil War: Why the Sokovia Accords Are a Waste of Paper Captain America: Civil War – Parental Review 5 Things We Will Miss About “Agent Carter”

 

Civil War: Why Vision Needed to Fail

Vision feels utterly perfect. From the moment of his creation (whatever the heck happened there, still scratching my head over that one) Vision has come across as perfect. He never makes a mistake, he is never wrong. His perspective is so objective and gently stated (in a British accent) that you feel he must right. Oh, and to put the cherry on top, he can lift the hammer.

Civil War is the first movie where we really get a feel for Vision. He is kind, intelligent, and gentle. And yet, he doesn’t know what it is to be human. He wants to know, he wants to understand. He is fascinated by humanity in a very objective and curious way. He seems to be especially intrigued by Scarlet Witch and the enigma that she presents. She is so incredibly strange and powerful, and yet, still so human.

Vision actually has a conversation in Age of Ultron that does a great bit of set-up and foreshadowing for his role in Civil War.

“There is grace in their failings.” 

Vision speaks to Ultron with a perspective that is far more positive towards humanity than that murder bot had. At the same time, the very manner in which he speaks of mankind shows just how little he actually understands about us.

In Civil War  Vision is quite obviously trying to explore humanity. He seems to sympathize with Wanda in that neither one of them seem to know what they are, and are both wary of what they are capable of. It’s like he is at the edge of understanding fear, but he still cannot enter into it. I think he may be beginning to understand compassion, and perhaps even one day love. His attentiveness to Wanda shows the potential for his character.

Then, the rubber meets the road, the stinking Accords are dropped on the table, and Vision goes back to his numbers, statistics (dumb statistics by the way), and objectivity. I don’t blame the guy, he doesn’t know any better yet. But I think the core issue, the one message that is lightly buried beneath the surface to be dug up is: perfection.

“I know we’re not perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.” Steve Rogers

Tony Stark is frustrated by the fact that he isn’t perfect. He struggles beneath the weight of genius, wealth, and a God complex that is starting to break him. In an attempt to create the perfect form of protection, Tony created Ultron. Ultron revealed more than anything else just how far out of reality Tony’s mind has gone when it comes to his actions. More on that tomorrow in, Civil War: The Tragic Tale of Tony Stark.

“Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth.” Tony Stark

Let’s be honest, Steve Rogers is about the closest thing to perfection that humanity has to offer. And yet, he’s still human. He hurts, he bleeds, he makes mistakes, and he faces consequences. His track record isn’t spotless, and he knows that.

How does this apply to Vision? The writers of the Accords find the perfect opening to produce their garbage following Wanda’s mistake which led to a bomb that killed several people. They are all over her for not being perfect enough. Yeah, demand the impossible and then get mad when there are some consequences. That makes sense.

Vision does what he thinks is right. He displays kindness and compassion towards Wanda, he even cooks for her. That scene was pure gold by the way, I really look forward to seeing where things go between the two of them. But he also holds Wanda back because of the Accords. She made a mistake and now the world is ready to go on a witch hunt (pun fully intended). Vision’s non-human perspective tells him that the Accords is the right course of action to ensure there are no more mistakes, slip ups, or horrible consequences. The Accords will ensure perfection.

A neat moment happens when Hawkeye comes to pick up little sister Wanda. Yes, I really think Hawkeye has become surrogate big-brother to Wanda while Steve has stepped into surrogate Daddy role. And do I find it adorable? You bet I do.

In this moment, Wanda makes a choice to overcome her fear of failing, and to keep trying instead. This is a neat culmination of that not-so-eloquent and yet totally awesome pep talk Hawkeye gave her back in Sokovia.

“It’s all our fault!”

“Hey, look at me. It’s your fault, it’s everyone’s fault, who cares? Are you up for this?”

Vision doesn’t understand that Wanda has just accomplished one of the greatest triumphs we humans can reach: she overcomes her failure and gets back up again.

You cannot truly understand the beauty and joy of success until you understand the pain and fear of failure. Wanda has honestly been struggling with fear since the battle at Sokovia. She is terrified by what she can do, and terrified by her actions going wrong. Her fear of failure is something that we can all connect with. Failure often has consequences, and it can scare you away from trying any more. But in order to grow and move forward, we have to come to terms with our imperfection, embrace our mistakes, and then get up off our rears and keep going. The moment Wanda sends Vision (who represents the fear of her failure) cannon-balling down through the floor is a victorious moment of the human spirit.

On to the airport scene. Team Tony is getting their rear kicked when backup arrives. Vision is a formidable opponent as he can do what no one else can, and he seems immune to just about everything. After all, he’s Vision. What can go wrong?

Vision is doing fine and succeeding at every turn. And then he goes down to check on Wanda who has just been brought to the ground by War Machine’s sonic blasts. Again, another sweet scene between them. Vision wants to understand and connect with this woman so badly, and he seems to be developing real emotions regarding her. But there is still a distance between them, a barrier that he cannot seem to cross or grasp.

Uh oh! Falcon is bugging Tony and Rhody and getting in their way. Yo Vision, how about a little firepower over here? Vision carelessly looks up and shoots a powerful beam in the flying trio’s direction. A beam which Falcon avoids (because he is awesome) and instead, the beam hits Rhody’s arc reactor, sending him plummeting out of the sky. It’s a horrific moment that causes everyone to stop. One of their own is now lying motionless on the ground and there is no way to fix it.

And in that moment, Vision finally understands. These humans he is fascinated by, the ones who have a certain grace to their failings; He finally understands what it means to be one of us.

Because you are never more human than when you fail.

The question is now: will Vision learn to triumph and get back up again?

Despite that fact that he is made up artificial intelligence, synthetic tissue, and robot parts, Vision can now understand what it means to be a part of the human race. If he wanted to grasp the human experience, he just started at ground zero. Vision has now opened the door for his character to fully embrace humanity and grow in understanding.

Vision appears to be the most infallible member of Team Tony, and yet, even he proves what we all already know. Perfection is impossible, no one can dictate it, put it into law, or build a machine to enforce it. The greatest thing we can do is to not get hung up on trying to pursue perfection, but rather learn to accept failure with grace and then keep moving forward.

Did you enjoy Vision’s character arc in this movie? What did you think of his interaction with Wanda and the other Avengers? Would you eat something cooked by someone who has never tasted food before? What do you hope they do with his character in the future?

If you liked this article, you may like these as well. Civil War: Natasha Romanoff, Steve’s Friend Civil War: The First Annual Avenger’s Football Game Civil War: Spiderman, Meet Steve Civil War: Why the Sokovia Accords Are a Waste of Paper Captain America: Civil War – Parental Review