WARNING: minor Captain America: Civil War spoilers here.
Marvel Studios have outdone themselves once again with the release of Captain America: Civil War. In a world-rocking change of pace from the usual superhero movie, Civil War pits close friends Steve Rogers and Tony Stark against one another, with other favourite characters lining up on either side.
Without spoiling the plot too much, here are three lessons we can learn from Civil War.
1. Accountability is important
A single viewing of the film’s trailer lays out the basic plot: the Avengers’ various victories have caused fallout and collateral damage leading the UN to raise the question of accountability. To whom are the Avengers answerable for mistakes they make while saving the world? It’s impossible to battle a million Ultrons in a floating city without incurring civilian casualties and destroying said city, so who bears the responsibility for these things? For that matter, how exactly do you hold a group of superheroes to account?
We all appreciate it when those in positions of power are held to account for their mistakes or misdeeds. For instance, many of my Facebook friends liked or shared the video of John Bercow (speaker of the House of Commons) rebuking Jeremy Hunt for playing with his phone during a Parliamentary debate.
Deep down, we probably all understand the need for and benefit of being held accountable for our own actions as well. Nobody enjoys being disciplined, but once the sting has dissipated we can see that we have become a better person through it.
2. Guilt can be a bad motivator
Over the past few Marvel films, Iron Man has become an increasingly conflicted character. His intelligence and bravado have led him to make some big mistakes, most notably the creation of Ultron. His guilt over these mistakes and the deaths they have caused leads him to take a very hard-line stance about the future of the Avengers. This is a contributing factor to his feud with Steve Rogers.
If we don’t process our guilt in a healthy way it can lead us to act rashly. Conversely, if we fail to deal with our guilt it can cause real damage to those around us and to ourselves. Ultimately, unprocessed guilt can separate us from God. We may have asked forgiveness from Him, but we still hold onto the guilt of what we’ve done. To do so means to deny the forgiveness we know Jesus offers us.
3. Integrity is important
While Iron Man seems motivated by his guilt, it’s an altogether different characteristic that drives Captain America. Steve Rogers is a man for whom self-sacrifice and honour are key. He places great value on doing the ‘right thing’, even if others disagree about what that is. The words of a valued friend spur Rogers on further to stay true to what he believes, even if everyone around him is choosing to compromise.
Of course, compromise can be important, but so too is maintaining our integrity. Living as followers of Jesus means to live with integrity. If you’ve followed Jesus for any length of time, you’ve probably come across a situation or a relationship which has challenged you to compromise your Bible-based values. Whether it’s the temptation to sexual sin, the draw to engage in a culture of gossip or having one more drink than is sensible on a night out, there is a lot of pressure on us to compromise. Holding to our integrity might be the harder choice, but it is most definitely the right one.
Would you draw any other lessons from this film? Let me know in the comments.