Captain America: Civil War has been a blockbuster movie for the past two weeks since its release, enticing the attention of the mass people. The movie has the thrilling graphics, creative narratives, and visual effects to capture the most vivid imaginations of many, especially the young. Perhaps another thing that takes it to the heights of movie blockbuster is its almost star studded cast. It may be a movie about Steve Rogers/Captain America, but it seems that he is in a tug of war with Tony Starks/Iron Man when it comes to the spotlight. The beauty of most movies these days is the adoption of an antihero persona, in which the plot sheds some ray of darkness onto the protagonist’s character. The beauty in this adoption may lie in the fact that it captures the paradoxical reality of life, wherein the hero and the villain coexist within each one of us. There is a place for absolutes and a place for relativism; absolutes reside in the realm of truth and relatives in the realm of human affairs. The latter is certainly depicted in the story of Captain America: Civil War. The crux of its story between the affair between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark over the response they, as The Avengers, have to make to the international community. The international community deemed it necessary to supervise the actions of the group after they inflicted massive damages in certain places. Responding to the growing demand of accountability stirred up rift between Tony Starks and Steve Rogers. Starks was willing to succumb to the demand while Rogers beg to differ. Other layers of conflict came into the scene, eventually leading the two to an epic show down. Captain America and Iron Man ended up dueling against one another until one of them was knocked down. The bout between the two was designed by a Sokovian coloner turned terrorist named Zemo, who blamed the Avengers for the death of his family in Sokovia. Perhaps the most powerful line in the movie came from Zemo when he said:
“An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That’s dead forever.”
In saying this, Zemo is referring to a timelessly universal thought: any entity can never be defeated unless it gives itself consent to be defeated. Defeat starts from within, as well as evil, goodness, success, and failure. This thought is, in fact, biblical as well, when Our Blessed Lord said:
“’Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7:21-23).
Referring to this thought stated by our LORD, perhaps, Zemo is saying that he knows he can never beat the Avengers because certainly he does not have any inch of their superhuman capacities. Yet, he knew he can beat them if he provokes them to beat up one another. Such is the case when he showed to Iron Man and Captain America what happened on December 16, 1991, the date when Buckeye—Captain America’s dear best friend, as Winter Solider—killed Iron Man’s parents and viciously killed his mother. Zemo knows that showing the video to Iron Man would provoke intense revulsion towards Captain America’s friend, having the urge to seek revenge by killing him. Zemo also knew that if he tries to kill Buckeye, Captain America will get in the way and protect his friend. Anything that comes from within defile the person and thus the belligerence commences.
The climax, definitely the most powerful scene in the movie, conveys a dark message that perfectly explains away the climate of our society: that all wars, unrest, poverty, and violence are born from within. These unfortunate phenomena are the effects of sin, whether one believes in such a thing or not. Well, one inevitably has to if one is to believe that we have equal capacities for both good and evil which is undeniably true. Superheroes such as Iron Man and Captain America are no exceptions. They both have a capacity to save others as much as to kill each other. And if they are susceptible to such weaknesses, what makes us exempt from it. Many social, economic, and religious entities break down simply because of their capacities to be broken down by their very own selves. The United States may have struggled to topple down the might British Empire in the late 1700’s, but with perseverance, they defeated them and forged an identity their own. The British Empire presented many threats – such as military size, experience, and resources – that were enough to defeat the nascent country. On the same token, the United States witnessed that their own can actually kill one another despite of the feat of defeating a might army about 70 years earlier. A multi-billion dollar company can withstand a global crisis, but it can never survive when its leaders aim to break down one another. A country can survive the threat of another country, but it can never survive when its own destroy one another. A family can withstand rainy days and survive financial setbacks, but it can only take an unruly child or an unfaithful father or mother to destroy a family. No one can put down an individual – not even failure, external threat, physical sickness, or any form of difficulties – but it can never survive discouragement. The person is already dead even before he or she commits suicide because of an utter loss of hope for life. The following cliché can never be truer: no one can put you down unless you consent it to. Even the Divine Lord emphasized this absolute truth when He talks about His very own life:
“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the power to lay it down, and the power to take it up again” (John 10:18).
There is a nonnegotiable element of responsibility when it comes to human freedom. Anything that happens from within is under one’s own control. We have a capacity for both goodness and evil, and leaning towards one over the other is a matter of responsibility by exercising control.
I personally worry about one institution as I go over the course of this discourse: the Catholic Church. For over 2,000 years it has survived and prevailed over many enemies: the Roman Empire, the Barbarians, Arian Heresy, Napoleon, Communism, and Islam. Yet, my main concern is not the wars that took place (and still does at this very moment) against these external forces, but the war that was had been provoked within. Divisions over theological and social issues are clear, issues over same sex marriage, social justice, the role of women and the laity, the family, and attitudes towards liturgy. The eyes of the faithful have been far removed from the image of Christ and Him Crucified, and have been fixed towards all other things. Failing to keep our eyes to the only thing that matters, it is fearsome to consider that the Church is in a downfall directions, which is what the Enemy exactly wants to happen. Zemo from Captian America: Civil War represents well the Fallen Angel which is the True Enemy of the Church: Satan. Satan’s ways is destroying all the things without laying his hands on them. he destroys families by provoking within the father, the mother, and the children everything that defiles. he destroys friendship in the same manner. he destroys individual souls in the same manner. For all the Christian faithful, the battle that must be won isn’t necessarily the battle over same-sex marriage, transgenderism, liturgical abuses, family divorce, terrorism, and hunger, but the battle over the forces of Satan.
We need not to look far where battle field is. It is taking place within ourselves. No war is more just than the war within, and no peace is more real than achieving peace within.