It's almost time; the moment we've been dreading and anticipating, Captain America: Civil War! When aliens first attacked New York in The Avengers, the Marvel movie public by and large embraced the heroes who had helped save them. However, it seems that love and admiration the people have for the heroes can only last so long and overlook so much before they begin to rethink if superpowered people is a benefit or a burden. Strike one it seems was in Thor: The Dark World when aliens again attacked, this time in London, and almost plunged the world and the Nine Realms into darkness. Strike two came after Captain America: The Winter Soldier when S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed from within as Hydra revealed itself and almost launched it's new world order by hijacking S.H.I.E.L.D.'s three new supercarriers. Strike three than came in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Stark's proposed peacekeeping program inexplicably turned on humanity and built a meteor with which it threatened all of humanity with extinction.
One could certainly see the animosity towards "powered people" since, as far as the public knew, near-disasters like these never occurred until the Avengers came along. Then again none of these incidents were the fault of the heroes, and while there is some blame and certainly mistakes made (S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark) from their perspective it was with the best intentions and they did act to essentially clean up their mess afterward. Still people remain unconvinced and the debate rages on; we've already seen this play out in the MCU's TV shows. The titular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. constantly have to justify themselves and face scrutiny from every potential ally forcing them into the shadows and out of the public eye. Meanwhile on Netflix, Daredevil and Jessica Jones have been exploring the persecution and discrimination towards new vigilantes both on the streets and in the courts, most notably in the Trial of Frank Catle a.k.a. The Punisher.
But getting back to the main event in Civil War, this debate it seems is going to extend within the Avengers, tearing apart these heroes that we've come to know as a team and pushing them to ultimately fight each other for what they think is the right way to settle this issue. The issue in this case is the Sokovia Accords and wether the Avengers as a team will be put under the authority of the world's governments to be deployed or held back as they best see fit. Let's look below at what the two major factions/responses are to this and just what exactly is motivating our heroes to choose one side over the other. You just might find it hard to pick a side yourself.
Team Iron Man - Accountability
While it is certainly a character change for Tony Stark to be willing to work under government supervision, after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, it is hardly surprising. However, Tony Stark's reasons for supporting the Sokovia Accords go beyond just paying for his own mistakes. For him, the lack of accountability has meant the Avengers are potentially just as big a danger as the villains, as he saw in Age of Ultron when his fight with the Hulk brought widsepread damage to the city of Johannesberg, SA. In Tony's opinion, with the absence of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers should be held accountable and agree to answer to the government and the people they are fighting to protect. While Tony is still Tony and he likely resents the idea of answering to someone else and having to justify his actions, he sees it as necessary to assure the people that the Avengers are still fighting for them. As he states in the trailer, if they aren't willing to answer to someone, "we're no better than the bad guys." Also, in the comics, Tony Stark goes beyond just answering to the government and actively seeks to work with them to help the Avengers protect the people such as organizing the 50 State Initiative; while the movie may not focus on this too much, it's another reason Tony thinks the Avengers should consider accepting the Sokovia Accords.
The Avengers and heroes who take Tony Stark's side in the upcoming movie include James Rhodes/War Machine, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Vision, and newcomers T'Challa/Black Panther and Peter Parker/Spider-Man. While it's a no brainer that Rhodes would side with his friend Stark, Black Widow is probably the biggest surprise since many felt her history and bond with Captain America might motivate her to take his side. However, it might be because of her history both as an assassin and former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent that she takes Tony's side; like Tony she likely feels she has to answer for her mistakes in the past and her experience during the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. might have changed her mind about the benefits of working covertly. In Black Panther's case, as ruler of Wakanda, he represents one of the 'world governments' who want to oversee the Avengers; it's also speculated that he has a personal vendetta against Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier. Vision and Spider-Man's motivations remain unclear so we will have to wait and see.
Team Captain America - Liberty
The titular hero of this movie, Captain America/Steve Rogers disagrees with Tony's view and is against government oversight of the Avengers. As the symbol of freedom in the MCU, it's unsurprising Captain America would take this stance considering his own experiences. He first became a soldier to fight the Nazis during World War Two and prevent government control and loss of freedoms. During the events of The Winter Soldier, Steve saw S.H.I.E.L.D. fall to Hydra and this likely disillusioned him and made him lose trust in the government's or anyones ability to stay uncorrupted. To him this corruption is also why the Avengers exist and why they need to be able to work independently; just as they are there to protect people from supervillains, they are also there to protect people from dishonest orginizations and governments. As he says in the trailer, "The safest hands are still our own," and Captain America does not want the Avengers to have to be answerable to a government that could potentially be bought or infiltrated by the bad guys.
The Avengers who support Captain America's opposition to the Sokovia Accords include Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson/Falcon, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Sharon Carter/Agent 13, and Scott Lang/Ant-Man. While many of these characters were expected to take Cap's side (Bucky, Sam, Sharon), a couple are also surprising. Considering Scarlet Witch was originally against the Avengers and it was her home of Sokovia that was devastated in the final battle with Ultron, one could see her taking Tony's side and holding the Avengers accountable; than again Wanda has a personal dislike of Tony and it's probable that she would take Cap's side before working for Tony. Similarly, while Scott Lang/Ant Man likely supports Cap's freedom stance, he has also likely adopted his mentor Hank Pym's distrust of Stark. One other interesting choice is Hawkeye, who was a faithful member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and therefore may not disagree with the idea of accountability; however, considering he wants to keep his family secret and safe from enemies he most likely joins Cap's team rather than have to reveal them to government oversight.
While there are only two teams, the large number of characters is going going to provide many different perspectives on this debate. Even though Tony and Steve seem to be picking extreme sides of the argument, there is certainly room for compromise in the middle and it will be interesting to see if any characters switch sides during the course of the movie since several characters (Black Widow, Spider Man, Scarlet Witch, etc) could fall on either team. The true genius of Civil War is that there are merits to both sides and there isn't a clear right or wrong answer; the only thing that is clear is that our heroes are going to be caught up in this disagreement and since we as the audience have become invested in these characters' stories and who they are, it matters to us that they are fighting and why. So as you go to see Captain America: Civil War, remember that your heroes are still heroes fighting to protect people and they are simply trying to figure out the best way to do it.
There's also the personal issue of Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier. Reportedly a major disaster on an Avengers' assignment sparks the whole Sokovia Accords and in their pursuit to regulate the Avengers, the world governments seek to hold Winter Soldier accountable. This is another reason why Captain America and Iron Man are at odds; Cap wants to help his freind who has suffered under Hydra, on the flipside, however, Tony seeks to enforce justice, especially since it's been implied that Bucky had something to do with Stark's parents' deaths. This also extends to the other heroes who may each have personal reasons concerning Bucky. For instance, on Cap's side, Sam Wilson may support Steve in helping Bucky carrying on from their partnership in The Winter Soldier (also Sam and Bucky reportedly have their own interesting dynamic in the film); also, Scarlet Witch, having been a villain herself before reforming thanks to the Avengers, might agree with Cap in giving Bucky that same chance. On Tony's side, however, it's also suspected that Black Panther may also be out for justice as Bucky might have also killed T'Calla's father during his Hydra days; Black Widow, while she supports Steve and helps him during The Winter Soldier, has her own history with Bucky during her days as a SHIELD agent and she may feel he needs to answer for his crimes just as she feels she needs to for her assassin days.
Regardless of the personal or political motivations, Captain America: Civil War will certainly have a lot of deep conflict on both a physical and psychological level. So whose side are you on and who do you agree with? Do you think heroes need to be "put in check" as Tony says? Do you think that heroes can only do their job if it's on their terms like Captain America believes? Or are you somewhere in the middle, your on one side but you admit the other has a point. Humans love to fight and apparently superhumans are no different, so let the battle begin. Just don't forget there's a certain Baron out there with his own agenda for the Avengers that may make things worse.