The Avengers Ideal (No Civil War Spoilers)

It goes without saying that Captain America: Civil War hype has reached a fever pitch. Television spots play at every commercial break. The #CivilWar hashtag buzzes across Twitter. The advance reviews are in, and like a complete reversal of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it boasts near-universal acclaim (98% as of this writing). Box office records are predicted to be broken. Hell, the trailer alone boasted a record 100 million views within 24 hours of uploading. So far ee have enjoyed two team up films, but now the Avengers are split into two warring factions. After seeing these larger than life characters fight side by side against aliens and evil robots with Daddy issues, we get to settle those age-old ‘Who would win?’ debates in glorious, $200 million live action.

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Truly there has never been a cinematic brawl this epic.

A day unlike any other…

Civil War supposedly will tear apart the team. After all, that was the plot of the comic story that inspired this third installment. Plus, Tony’s trailer declaration that Steve “started a war!” implies brutal conflict that won’t be soothed over by repeating the word, “Martha.” One could claim this strife has brewed since Avengers (the “billionaire-playboy-philanthropist” exchange) or the farmhouse argument in Age of Ultron. With all of all of these juicy trailer quotes about ruined friendships and clips of savage fighting, one may ask, “Is this the end of the Avengers?”

No, no it won’t be.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are more than just a mighty force for good that defends the Earth from secret Nazi societies and drama queen Norse gods. They represent something much greater than the villains defeated or cities saved. They represent an ideal, an example, a shining light for the world they defend, the very best like no one ever was. The Avengers ideal is teamwork, coming together to cooperate when the chips are down and the situation is dire, to overcome differences so that evil can be vanquished and the world can be saved. A team can be disassembled, but an idea never can be.

As Nick Fury so famously put it in the first film,

There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could. Phil Coulson died, still believing in that idea. In heroes.

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Even if rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated.

A group of of remarkable people…

Alone, each of these heroes are revered (or feared) the world over. Yet when they come together, their might is revered across the galaxy. When coming together, their strength is not added, but multiplied, exponentially. Through their teamwork, they become something much greater than any of them could have been alone. They teach the world that it is through cooperation that people grow and soar (or Hulk Jump) to greater heights than they ever had before. By watching them unite against a common enemy, to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand, they teach the world that great odds can be overcome even by some wacky misfits who choose a common cause and pool their strengths.

Marvel Studios films delve deeply into the meaning of superheroic acts almost as much as they depict faceless bad guys having their skulls smashed in. Captain America woke up to a modern world that never forgot his battles against Nazis and HYDRA over seventy years ago. After his first film, Tony Stark meets admirers of Iron Man wherever he goes (that, or enemies of course). Even when none of the members are present or involved in a story, they will be referred to or admired, such as in Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They do not cast a shadow over the world, but cast a light of hope to banish the darkness.

The entirety of Team Cap and Team Iron man could be irreparably separated by end of the film, but that would not be the end of the Avengers. Through example, they would live on. When the Wasp dons her superhero suit and teams up with Ant-Man to face whatever weird size-changing threats in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Avengers ideal lives on. When the street-level Netflix heroes come together for The Defenders, the Avengers ideal lives on. As Daisy Johnson (Quake) and Phil Coulson unite a team of Inhumans to battle the remaining forces of HYDRA, you guessed it, they embody the Avengers ideal. Oh yeah, there’s also the upcoming Thor and Hulk team up in Thor: Ragnarok, and yep, same thing applies. As long as remarkable individuals are prepared to work together to do what is right, the Avengers will never truly be disassembled.

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As much as I’m using the word “assemble,” a LEGO joke was overdue.

Fight as One

If Superman sets an example for what an individual can achieve, the Avengers show us what we can achieve when cooperating as a group.They show to us that in times of crisis or injustice, everything can be changed by a unique group of people who choose to pool their strengths and skills. Society-changing movements have been initiated by small groups who band together behind a common cause. The Fight for $15 movement, a nationwide rallying cry for a $15 Minimum Wage, was initiated by a small cadre of a few car wash and fast food workers in New York. Occupy Wall Street was launched by around thirty people who gathered to propose a rally to protest Wall Street influence on world politics. The Women’s Rights Movement in the United States began with an afternoon tea conversation by just six women.

At the same time, the Avengers also show us the grim reality that conflict will result from people with different attitudes and approaches attempting to work together. After all, that’s the entire premise of Civil War. Despite their disagreements though, they never fail to come together when the greater threat looms. This lesson is just as applicable in our real world. Disagreement within groups is inevitable. People working together for a common cause need to remember just that: the cause is greater than any disagreements or arguments, and should not be threatened by clashing personalities. For the greater good, we must compromise, cooperate, and collaborate without egos getting in the way, even if the ‘greater good’ is something as minor as pulling together to finish a project at work or organizing a charity benefit.

We all know that when the forces of Thanos reach Earth, the core squad of Avengers will reunite to stand against the Mad Titan. Living or dead (those Infinity Stones can get up to all sorts of reality-altering shenanigans), they will stand united again. Look to them as an example for how you can cooperate with the people in your life. You don’t have to be a God of Thunder or a Super Soldier to pool your strengths and talents with others. If a problem arises, stand together to solve it. When you share a cause, assemble.

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And try not to cry too hard at this scene.

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