As Marvel fans, we’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment over the last decade with introducing our kids to these stories; first watching at home, then as they got older, seeing them in theatres and witnessing them flip out with giddy excitement at character reveals and plot twists. But recently we realized: we’ve never watched all of them as a family, and certainly not in release order. And that’s left some gaps in their understanding of the relationships between all these heroes.
Thus, as a family, we pledged to embark upon an epic MCU rewatch before we see Avengers: Endgame in the theatre, and answer the all-important question: should you watch these with your kids?
ICYMI: read our thoughts on Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Ant-Man, The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
After the brief respite of Ant-Man’s origin story, we’re back into the thick of the larger “Phase 3” Marvel story arc with the third Captain America film (or as it’s more popularly known, Avengers 2.5). Captain America: Civil War reunites almost all of the Avengers from Age of Ultron (except for Thor and the Hulk), and adds in several new heroes for good measure.
After the devastation in Sokovia from the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron, U.S. Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt) informs the Avengers that the United Nations is preparing to ratify the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a panel intended to oversee and control the Avengers’ actions.
The team is divided. Shaken by his role in creating Ultron and by an encounter with the mother of a humanitarian worker who died in Sokovia, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) wants to sign. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), still reeling from the breakdown of SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is wary of placing his trust in yet another giant organization, and prefers to trust his own judgment as to when Captain America should act.
The argument between the two sides is further complicated when a bomb explodes at a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be signed, killing T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda. The Winter Soldier, now known to be Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), is implicated in the bombing, and T’Chaka’s son and heir, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), aka the Black Panther, vows revenge. Knowing his friend to be innocent, Steve Rogers is determined to protect Bucky.
Also in the mix are Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and newly enlisted in the fight are Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Divided along the lines of alliances old and new, the superheroes clash in an epic conflict that culminates in an ultimatum between Iron Man and Captain America.
There are so many great things about this movie, but beyond the fact that it brings together most of the MCU superheroes we’ve met so far in this arc, the story is extremely well crafted. What I love about this fight is that really, neither side is wrong; they’re just on either side of a complex issue, and all the bad guy does is exploit the fractures that have been festering in this team since Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie eloquently – and perhaps presciently for its time – illustrates how quickly and easily a great force for good in the world can be broken apart by one bad actor.
So, should you watch it with your kids? If they’re old enough not to be disturbed by scenes of their heroes fighting each other instead of battling evil villains, yes. It’s a critical moment in the broader arc, and sets up where the relationships within the Avengers stand at the start of Avengers: Infinity War.
Bottom line: Essential viewing in the larger story arc that Marvel is telling, and also just an excellent movie. Find it on iTunes and settle in with a bucket of popcorn.