Captain America Civil War Analysis - Main Character Question

Forgive me if this has been brought up, but I thought it worth pointing out that Civil War seems to have Iron Man as its main character. It seems that we have emotional inroads into Tony’s character that simply don’t exist for Steve, and I can think of at least three different occasions where Cap has to have his actions explained or interpreted for the audience.

So, besides asking if it seemed that way to anyone else, I also wanted to ask if it was possible to create an accidental main character.

I felt it was CA’s story from beginning to end. We start with him and end with him and it also doesn’t hurt that he’s the one driving the plot. I imagine they needed to give IM a ton of intimate moments in order for us to sympathize with his side of the argument so we could be just as torn as they are over what’s right.

I think it’s absolutely possible to create an accidental MC. Through the process of writing you may end up finding out the MC you started out with may not be the MC the story needed. One of your side characters or the IC could end up being the MC. You would have to just go back and rewrite the thing from their perspective.

Oh how I’ve waited for this movie to be brought up.

While Cap is the main character, I don’t think he’s the protagonist, I think Zemo is, as well as being the IM. The OS goal is to destroy the Avengers, that’s the question the audiences is waiting to have answered. Will Zemo succeed in destroying the Avengers? And the answer was yes, he does. They mitigate his influence a little bit when Cap sends the note to Tony at the end.

Further, I think Cap is the Antagonist. He’s the one fighting to maintain the status quo against both Tony and Zemo. No you can’t kill my friend, no you can’t register mutants. He’s the one trying to get everyone else to reconsider the paths they’re trying to go down.

I think the reason we see so much in the way of emotional in-roads into Tony’s character is because he IS the emotion character. He is the emotional argument: from his meeting with Alfrie Woodard’s character in the hallway to his temper-tantrum /breakdown at the end.

As to the question of whether you can have an accidental MC, I think sometimes it can take you a bit to figure out where you want the audience to see things from, but the exploration doesn’t make the final choice accidental.

Honestly, the juxtaposition of characters and character roles in this movie has made it one of my favorites of this year.

That actually brings up something else I wanted to mention. Playing off your idea of Cap as the Antagonist, I don’t think the movie has a straight protagonist. Zemo is pursuit, definitely, but I’d say consider belongs to Tony. Actually, I’m not sure the movie has a straight Antagonist, either, given that Tony, Natasha, and Vision all have avoid characteristics, too. This is a hugely non-archetypal movie.

I wouldn’t say the goal is destroying the Avengers so much as toppling them. That’s what the Accords are for, that’s what Ross wants. Zemo just wants a more permanent version where they don’t pick themselves back up.

I still stand by my original position of Iron Man as the main character. Given that the Relationship is between him and Cap, the fact that we know exactly where Tony’s head is throughout the whole movie, and the fact that Steve’s actions repeatedly have to be explained or interpreted for the audience, I can’t see how Tony isn’t the main character. We understand him in ways that we simply don’t exist for Cap.

I’m not so sure this film’s OS characters fall into the traditional archetypal characteristics. If we think about them as complex characters we can transpose some of those. So in my scenario the Protagonist potentially won’t have consider and pursue together in the same player. And actually I think CA is consider/avoid. Consider because he took a stance on the Socovia Papers and the innocence of Bucky and didn’t waiver. Avoid because he wants to find out who’s really behind the bombing and the framing of Bucky and wants to stop them before they do anymore harm. In this case, he would be a P who is trying to stop something from happening.

As far as CA as Antagonist… It didn’t feel to me that he was saying “You can’t” anything. He was saying “You won’t have my support. I won’t sign these Papers and I won’t let you capture Bucky because he’s innocent.”

The Papers are not intended for toppling The Avengers their purpose is to control them. The government wants to be able to say when and where they The Avengers are to be used. And CA knows that the government will use them to push their own agenda’s.

The Zemo angle, I kinda get where you’re coming from, however, we don’t know that’s his goal until around the 2 hour mark. It’s kinda late to be the main goal of the story. To me, the Goal was to find out who is behind these sudden attacks and who is behind activating Bucky and so on… they eventually find this out and arrest Zemo (Success) albeit with a huge cost: The dismantling of The Avengers.

Back to the MC debate. The writers did a very good job giving us intimate moments from each character. And we are experience the story from both CA and IM very closely:

  1. CA’s learns his friend (Agent Carter) has died and we are with him in that stairwell, alone.
  2. IM’s friend (Warmachine) almost dies and we are with him on that field afraid he’s going to lose him.

It’s hard for me argue one way or the other. The only thing I can go off is what I believe the (author’s) intent is. We are supposed to take CA’s side. We as the audience know that signing those Sokovia Papers is a bad idea. The government wants to use them like a weapon or to push their own agenda. We are made to understand that IM only wants to sign them because he can’t control himself, he’s really been the reason for the events in Avengers 1 and 2.

Because we are supposed to take CA’s side aka perspective I think he’s the MC.

Allow me to clarify. I use “topple” to indicate that the world at large wants to knock the Avengers out of their position of power, to bring an end to their reign, as it were. Ross indicates they can either submit or dissolve, while at the same time Zemo wants them to implode. Check his crumbling empire metaphor. In fact, now that I think of it, I think Ending may be the OS problem (Progress-Fantasy), the world wants to bring a halt to the Avengers’ status and it’s not happening fast enough (so, a problem of not enough Ending).

I’m not too wedded to Cap as Antagonist, but he’s definitely got avoid. He opposes Iron Man, the UN, and Zemo.

The MC doesn’t mean the creators agree with his viewpoint (there are such things as Steadfast-Bad-Failure stories), but I do agree that they favor Cap’s side, given how the pro-Accords side is doing it either out of a psychologically crippling sense of responsibility (Tony), desire to keep the family together (Natasha), or because everybody else says so (Rhodey). Black Panther has a vendetta, and even Vision’s little theory is just an attempt to hedge his bets (as a side note, I get the distinct impression that Vision’s out of his depth in anything that isn’t an existential crisis). Compared to all of that, Cap comes off as positively principled. (Full Disclosure: I’m actually pro-Accords).

I appreciate the point about Cap and the news of Carter’s death, but I disagree. I watched Cap isolate himself and could guess what he was feeling, but I had to guess, because Cap’s really not that expressive about himself (understanding Cap’s response depends on familiarity with the MCU at large; within the story itself there’s not much to go on). It’s actually discussed after the fact during the funeral when Natasha says she doesn’t want him to be alone… which I think supports my point – all of Cap’s major emotional moments have to be discussed after the fact so the audience understand, meanwhile we already know Tony’s viewpoint before his big moments. I happily cede the one exception, where we have to be clued in to Tony’s reaction to Pepper’s name in the beginning, because I consider that the exception that proves the rule.

Assume for a moment Cap is the MC. He’s a Steadfast character, not a Change character, so that really changes how to evaluate everything else, doesn’t it? Keep in mind Cap has been the Steadfast character in his previous films too.

I think Bucky might be the Influence Character, and the emotional journey is Cap’s refusal to turn on his friend. That’s the subjective story. Everything else is the Objective story.

Zemo is the Antagonist, because ultimately he’s behind it all, and Tony is the Contagonist, used by Zemo to achieve the antagonist’s ends.

I imagine they start with one MC at the scriptwriting and filming, then a year or two passes with tons of world events traumatizing people. The audience reception at that time might identify with a different character, more.

Well, that’s actually the irony of my point. I think Captain America was supposed to be the main character, but because Tony technically got the more substantial emotional connection with the audience he ended up satisfying the criteria for the Dramatica main character better than Steve.

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Would it make any difference to the storyform which characters are the MC and IC?

I haven’t run it through the software, but exchanging main and influence characters at the very least rearranges how the main character’s throughline interacts with the overall (changing from complementary to companion or vice versa) which affects whether the growth is start or stop and everything else dependent on that, I believe.

Having thought it over some more, I think there’s actually -two- stories going on, the second centering on T’challa, who wants to avenge his father, and Bucky, the man who didn’t do it. That ending stinger shows much more of a relationship change between them than anything else.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but could one be a tale and one be the storyform Story?

Well, at risk of spoilers again (sorry, should’ve marked the thread title), I’m pretty sure the Iron Man-Captain America conflict is the main story and the T’challa-Bucky conflict is a sub plot.

Hope I don’t bother anyone jumping in and unloading a bunch of thoughts. I watched this again a few nights ago, and have been thinking it over.

I think the intent is that Cap is the Main Character, although, the line is blurred a lot in the storytelling. I’m sure they wanted to beef up Iron Man’s role to give Robert Downey Jr. more to do. Plus there’s a lot of “story chatter” with the Black Panther and Spider-man stuff.

I see MC as Fixed Attitude. All the problems for him personally seem to stem from his loyalty to Bucky, and his unwillingness to do what the “system” demands vs. what he feels is right.

That puts Iron Man in Situation, and I think his state as the public face of the Avengers is tearing his life to shreds. He’s lost Pepper, the world is turning on the Avengers, and he’s coming apart at the seams trying to hold his team together.

Relationship Story seems to be Manipulation. All the stuff with the Sokovia Accords and their differing perspectives on the Avengers role in the world drives a wedge between Cap and Iron Man. It’s also where most of the meat of the movie seems to be too, as it’s dramatized by having all the characters split into Team Cap and Team Iron Man. At first I thought this was the OS, but it’s separate from Zemo and his plan.

This leaves Zemo, and his plan to rid the world of Super-People. The storytelling here is lightly drawn until the last half hour or so. But Zemo is acting out a plan to hunt down and destroy the remaining Winter Soldiers, and destroy the Avengers. Even though he is most like a protagonist, I think we’re meant to see the dismantling of the Avengers as a bad thing, duh, which gives the movie it’s downer feel.

Concerns I would put in the lower left. (Obtaining, Future, Becoming, Innermost Desires). I think Openness, Delay, Preconception, and Choice seem strong for Tony. Closure, Denial, Hope and Dream also seem strong for Captain America. Rationalization, Obligation, Commitment, and Responsibility seem strong for the RS. Finally, you have Self-Interest, Morality, Attitude and Approach for the OS.

Steadfast for Cap, Change for Iron Man? He seems to be a lot less stressed and having a new attitude by effectively giving the Secretary of State the finger at the end. I think the implication is that he’s no longer interested in cooperating with the Government to hunt down his friends.

The only thing I feel weird about is Cap having a growth of Start, but I’m always kind of iffy about growth.

I’d be interested in doing a full analysis of this if anyone is interested.

This is actually really, really good, but I still object to Cap as the main character on the grounds that he reveals a secret at the end of the movie that forces a serious reinterpretation of his character which compromises his status as the audience entry-point into the story. Meanwhile, Tony’s very first scene establishes that he has issues that become such a huge factor later on.

Analysis sounds great.

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Putting Tony as the MC gives him a growth of Stop, chip on the shoulder, which seems like a good fit.

Something just nags me about Iron Man being the MC in a Captain America movie, but you make some really strong points. Especially the big reveal at the end. Argh! It kind of feels like I’m trying to push all the water to one side of the bathtub and keep it there. :confounded:

Might be time to start an official analysis thread and hash it out some more …

I totally understand about not wanting Iron Man to be a main character here. Honestly, I think it was accidental, but the dramatica model seems to insist on it.

You’re 100% correct.

So, if we’re good on Iron Man as MC, and feel good about the domains and concerns, then we’re pretty close to a final storyform. Just need some dynamics, and the issue and problem levels.

Can’t wait to be a hit at parties with my fun, new Civil War factoid! Hahaha

I haven’t seen the movie, yet. Is the movie experience for the audience through the eyes of Iron Man, Tony Stark (MC), for sure? Is Captain America the Protagonist or is Iron Man? The title prompts me to ask.

If stopping Zemo from ridding the world of Super-People/Destroying the Avengers is the goal, then Captain America is the only person actively pursuing that goal. Even if he doesn’t realize exactly what Zemo is doing until toward the end.

Jaybird makes a very compelling case that our experience of the movie, and our sympathies lie with Iron Man’s personal issues.

It’s worth checking out if you’re into this kind of thing.