Tuesday, September 29, 2020

"Breaking Up the Avengers"



Ever since I first saw "CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR" back in May 2016, I have been in a state of confusion of the series of events that led to the break-up of the Avengers within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The more I examine those events created by the film’s screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the more I find the narrative confusing. So what exactly happened?

According to "CIVIL WAR", the terrorist group that had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and other government agencies and private corporations, HYDRA, had ordered the brainwashed amnesiac James Buchannan "Bucky" Barnes aka the Winter Soldier to murder one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D., Howard Stark, and his wife Maria Stark, back in December 1991. Apparently, Stark – who has never struck me as an expert in biological sciences – had finally created his own version of the Super Soldier Serum. And HYDRA wanted to use the serum to continue their own program involving super soldiers.

Nearly 25 years later, Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross had presented the Avengers with the document known as the Sokovia Accords. The Accords was created to regulate the activities of enhanced individuals – especially those who work for either government agencies such as S.H.I.E.L.D. or for private organizations such as the Avengers. Some of the Avengers like Howard’s son, Tony Stark aka Iron Man; James Rhodes aka War Machine; Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow and the android known as Vision; had agreed to sign the document. Others like Steve Rogers aka Captain America; Sam Wilson aka the Falcon; and Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch refused to sign it. The Avengers argued over the legality of the Accords, until Steve was distracted by the news that his old World War II flame and former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Peggy Carter had died.

Eventually, the Avengers were further distracted by the bombing of the Vienna International Centre, where United Nations members had gathered to sign the Sokovia Accords. A major victim of the bombing turned out to be King T'Chaka, father of Prince T'Challa aka the Black Panther. A former Sokovian Armed Forces officer named Helmut Zemo had planned the bombing and framed Barnes in order to further divide the Avengers in retaliation for the destruction of his home country and his family in "THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON". Due to his discovery of the HYDRA files uploaded on the Internet by Romanoff during the events of "CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER", Zemo was able to discover that both Rogers and Barnes had been old childhood friends and fought together during World War II. He also discovered that Barnes, who had been held in captive and brainwashed by HYDRA until the end of "THE WINTER SOLIDER", had been the tool used by HYDRA to murder Howard and Maria Stark. Helmut used this knowledge to create conflict between Rogers and Stark. But despite knowing what exactly happened during "CIVIL WAR", I am not only confused by the film’s plot; I am confused over exactly what drove the Avengers apart.

First of all, could someone please explain how Steve Rogers and Tony Stark’s conflict over Bucky Barnes’ killing of Howard and Maria Stark was supposed to break up the Avengers? All of the Avengers? Yes, “THE WINTER SOLDIER” had revealed that both Rogers and Romanoff had learned that HYDRA was somehow responsible for the deaths of Stark’s parents. But Stark never confronted Romanoff for her knowledge of what happened to his parents. And neither she or Rogers knew that HYDRA had used Barnes to kill them. So how would a personal conflict between Rogers and Stark was supposed to have some impact upon the Avengers? Also . . . the Avengers had already parted over the Sokovia Accords early into "CIVIL WAR". Why on earth would the Avengers split up because two of its members had some disagreement over what happened in 1991? I have other questions.

Why did Helmut Zemo create such a contrived plan to expose what the brainwashed Bucky had done to the Starks? In the film, he had discovered a video tape featuring Barnes’ murder of the Starks on the road leading way from their New York manor. And what did Zemo do? He bombed the Sokovia Accords conference in Vienna and framed Barnes for the crime, knowing that Rogers would go out of his way to prevent his former friend from being gunned down with extreme prejudice, instead of merely arrested? After that . . . what? He impersonated a psychiatrist and helped the still brainwashed Barnes escape custody. Apparently, he knew that Barnes would eventually inform Rogers about HYDRA’s Winter Soldier program in Siberia and lead the latter to the organization’s base. How did Zemo know that Stark would end up at that Siberia base, as well? Stark would have never learned about Rogers and Barnes’ destination after their escape from the Battle at the Berlin airport if he had not convinced Sam Wilson, who had been arrested with the rest of Rogers’ team, to tell him. I doubt very much that Zemo would have anticipated this. Why did he not just send the damn tape featuring the Starks’ deaths to the Avengers headquarters or to Stark Enterprises, earlier in the story?

Speaking of that video tape . . . why on earth would HYDRA set up a camera to record Barnes’ murders of the Starks? Why would they record the murder in the first place? To see if his brainwashing worked after keeping him in hibernation for over 45 years? One would think that the Starks’ deaths were the evidence that the organization would need. And once HYDRA discovered that the brainwashing worked, why did it fail to destroy the tape? What was the point in keeping it intact, especially when the HYDRA operatives within S.H.I.E.L.D. must have went out of their way to convey the story that Howard and Maria had died in an accident? It was stupid to hang on to that tape. If HYDRA did not set up the camera, why was it overlooking that road in the first place?

"CIVIL WAR" also revealed that both Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff had failed to reveal that HYDRA may have been responsible for the deaths of Stark’s parents. Steve’s reasoning for not revealing the truth to Stark did not make any sense to me. Why would Rogers think not not revealing this would be a comfort to the other man? Considering his hatred of HYDRA, it would make more sense for Rogers to tell Stark . . . especially since they and the rest of the Avengers had been hunting down Baron von Stucker and HYDRA’s headquarters at the before the events of "AGE OF ULTRON". Come to think of it, why did Natasha Romanoff failed to tell Stark that HYDRA was responsible for the Starks’ deaths? And why did "CIVIL WAR" fail to reveal that she also knew that HYDRA was behind their death? I am still wondering why Stark had never learned the truth about his parents’ fate before the events of "CIVIL WAR".

Romanoff had released all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA files on the Internet in "THE WINTER SOLDIER". You mean to say that a tech-savvy person like Stark never discovered the files? Especially since his father had been one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Come to think of it, any employee of Stark Industries could have easily learned about the files or stumble across them. Yet, no one did. Talk about contrived writing. Did the Avengers use those old S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA files downloaded by Romanoff to search for von Strucker and his HYDRA base before the events of "AGE OF ULTRON"? If so . . . why did they fail to find information about the Starks' deaths? If not . . . why not? You mean to say that Romanoff’s upload of those S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA files were all about Zemo learning the existence of that damn tape and nothing else?

What am I trying to say here? The story arc of Helmut Zemo using the old HYDRA files on Bucky Barnes to break Steve Rogers and Tony Stark’s friendship and eventually the Avengers did not make . . . wait a minute. Did I just claim that Rogers and Stark had a friendship? Rogers and Stark . . . who could barely stand to socialize with each other? In the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You know what? This story arc seemed to have so many holes that I am beginning to believe it resembles Swiss cheese. What I find equally improbably is that so many films critics had not even bothered to question the plot when "CIVIL WAR" first hit the movie theaters back in May 2016.

No comments: