It was the winter of 2015, or whatever one might call the late November period in Kolkata where the weather is as quietly contemplative as Spiderman’s involvement in the sudden talk of the town, Civil War, when I decided to take the plunge. This was one that would more or less coincide with its academic counterpart as I wrestled with responsibilities, hope of a complete education and instant gratification, marking my descent into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s no secret how much MCU can influence anyone to look twice over their shoulder (one for Hydra, two for the new guy – who might just be secretly working for Hydra), and how much it has influenced me to never give up fighting for the good side. Whether it pierces your heart with an ancient sceptre, infused with what I previously would have thought was only a blue thingamajig, but is a space-controlling stone, the Tesseract, or turns your skin into stone, or costs you an arm, or your partner’s life, and probably the entire dating scene for you (here’s looking at you, Phil Coulson) – it’s worth the fight, and the support of your superhero shawarma-table buddies.
It is almost the perfect finish (for a bit-by-bit thorough breakdown that is beyond the scope of this article, and probably me, read this one) to what has been a nerve-wracking build-up between the Avengers and the US government, and the fallen Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra (this, however, seems to my biased view, more significant than a head-on collision given that we met Hydra’s – possibly one of the largest hubs of power, ambition, money and evil, and that too only on Earth – founder/monster, an organisation even the Avengers have difficulty weeding out). It pits, mainly, one of the fiercest businessmen, engineers and millionaires against a defamed patriot and super-soldier, in a fight for probably the World’s Best Friend title, that may (how can we entertain probability in these troubling times?) eventually lead to a fork of the ways, a part of the Avengers that may have to take to hiding and save the world under the cloak of anonymity.
Why I pitch it as only but almost-perfect is the improbability of a film and TV crossover happening any time soon – and by soon I mean any time in or after 2019 (precisely, May 3rd, 2019, in Infinity War: Part II) – which leaves a lot to be desired. As Marvel Studios’ executive producer Kevin Feige ducks the question, a die-hard TV-show groupie still has to wait for the
Agents and the Defenders (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) to link technologically-enhanced arms with the Avengers to shake off Thanos, the Mad Titan, in his power-drunk rampage, possibly armed with the Infinity Gauntlet. It’s disappointing to see an interesting tie-in not happen, because, like a friend said, it’s preposterous to imagine that Daredevil, Thor and Rocket Racoon (from Guardians of the Galaxy) exist in the same universe. However, one has to console themselves by waiting to see how the individual shows take off, wrapping around the further complicated storyline post-Civil War, especially Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that has done a mostly brilliant job dusting up the Battle of New York (Avengers) and the Battle of Washington (Thor) amongst others.
Marvel bases its stories around real life-threatening situations, building references off scandals that have kicked off arguments around the globe. It spins stories out of sordid, mundane events in a bid to inspire and enthral. For example, Captain America: The First Avenger, was a period movie that revolved around World War II, showcasing mankind’s brutalities and the fight to tame extremism and terrorism, besides the obvious that has scarred countless lives, lived and lost. Captain America: Winter Soldier was based off the Edward Snowden whistle-blowing scandal, and Avengers: Age of Ultron told a horrifying tale of technology’s advent and its possible reign of mind-control if man remains careless, power-hungry, yet irresponsible. Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk was basically a Donald Trump in the making with his policies of making Hell’s Kitchen free of crime – and great again, Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave was a forcible mind-controller who did not see himself as evil, and manipulated two young women into submission, and hundreds more in his climb to power. Captain America: Civil War, is much like the US government’s decisions regarding gun control, albeit differently, starting on the premise of Steve Rogers and Bucky running amok, away from Tony Stark’s efforts to regulate the Avengers – a dispute of whether power is to be tamed when it aims to only save the world, despite widespread earthly destruction in its wake.
Why I reiterate my disappointment over the questionable film-TV crossover is because like the cinema superheroes, our TV super-soldiers and agents have their own troubling back-stories and years of fighting trauma – Daredevil, with chemical-induced blindness, Jessica Jones, fighting psychological abuse, substance abuse and PTSD, Agent Carter, who lay the foundations for S.H.I.E.L.D. and fought chauvinism, gender discrimination and trained villains back in her day, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who have their individual histories fighting crime, pain, strife and struggle to keep the world safe. Add to the mix the band of Secret Warriors and the Inhumans, and the task of defeating Thanos almost seems exciting.
Civil War is the all-determining face-off between two friends suddenly thrown into opposing sides of the ring, racing to an unknown finish. In that way, our lives are minuscule Civil Wars waiting to happen, and nothing pierces the heart more than two heroes distracted enough to fight over a former Hydra super-soldier, aided by a “public menace” and super-spies, world superpowers, machine-humans and the like. Unless, of course, it’s a sceptre with the Tesseract held by a Norse demi-god.
The Avengers have always taught us the first thing they began with: assemble. This month’s refrain, although, chants, “United we stand. Divided we fall.”
This wait better be for something legen… wait for it…dary.
Written by: Sananda Gopalakrishnan