This post involves Captain American: Civil War, my example, so there will be semi-spoilers. I won’t be discussing the plot of the film as much, but mostly about some of the consistency issues I had with the film.
So, if you don’t want to know some details about the film, stop reading. If you choose to read, it’s a long post since I try to explain a lot (in case you haven’t seen the film).
I’ve always enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark. It’s iconic, the only portrayal anyone wants to see of the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist. I will forever love seeing this Tony Stark interact–recruit–this Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Their exchange is hilarious and amazing.
Iron Man and Spider-Man
Tony wants Peter to join him, to have Spider-Man be a hero on his side. He’s a young teen and is presented to us as just a kid who hasn’t been doing hero work very long. He’s not out for vengeance in this movie, not trying to stop a bad guy and save the city.
He’s just a bright, poor, and good kid who wants to stick up for the little guy (sort of like a young Steve Rogers).
But, hey, I can’t just geek about my two favorite superheroes finally sharing the screen together. I want to detach myself from my love of the characters and talk about what I think the writers could’ve paid attention to.
Early on in the film, Tony is confronted by a woman who lost a son in Sokovia (where people have died after a tussle between some Avengers and some baddies at the start of the film). The woman–I can’t remember her name–gives Tony a photo of her son… a casualty as a result of these brawls.
She outright blames Tony Stark for her son’s death. Others in the film come up throughout to blame the Avengers for the loss of loved ones, and this hits Tony hard. Former weapons developer, whose inventions have resulted in the deaths of thousands, Tony is seeing that there is still so much to do before he can believe he’s made up for the sins of his past.
Tony brings up Charles Spencer (the son’s name, I believe) at a meeting the Avengers have when they are given the Sokovia Accords. It’s a program to keep enhanced beings like them under a leash, and Tony fully supports it. He wants the Avengers to be held accountable for the regrettable losses that often result from their actions… even when they are doing what they believe is right.
The Accords inevitably divide the group, and each side has very valid points. It’s difficult to not understand both sides.
I paid a lot of attention to Tony after that, after he’s completely decided his stance on the Sokovia Accords. It means giving up some freedoms, but if he can do right by the families who’ve suffered, like Spencer’s family, then he’ll do it. He won’t put innocent people in danger.
So… why does he recruit young Peter Parker… a bright kid like Spencer, a kid who wants to do what’s right… like Spencer? Why involve him in this fight so early on? The
The writers gave Spencer to Tony to add some weight to what Tony believes is at stake with these Accords. They’re not just a leash on the Avengers, but an attempt to preserve human–young–life.
And then Tony brings in a kid to the fight. Tony meets Aunt May, leads Peter through a lie about a grant Pete never actually applied for, and he sort of pressures Peter to join him in the fight at the airport. Tony went to their small home in Queens, completely aware that he was putting this young kid in danger. Asking for this kid to put himself in danger.
Yes, Tony does ask that he keep a distance during the fight, but Peter fully involves himself anyway–as expected. And, yes, the confrontation at the airport was never meant to result in any deaths. None of the Avengers want to actually kill each other. Half of them were just avoiding arrest.
Where’s Captain America On This?
But do you see what I see when it comes to Peter’s involvement by Tony? I’d also like to mention Steve Rogers doesn’t help either.
Back to the airport battle, Steve and Peter have a small brawl, and I believe Steve knows that Spider-Man is another teen hero brought into this mess.
Some of the other Avengers wonder how old this new guy is (since he makes dated references and, clearly, sounds like a teen).
But I would’ve assumed Steve would’ve called Tony out about this, about involving a kid in this world of battling enhanced adults and political agendas.
But he doesn’t. He fights him all the same. Pulls his punches, maybe, but there’s not much concern.
Based on Tony’s experience with Spencer’s mother, I’d expected a certain outcome: avoid putting more people at risk, in danger. He agrees to, and fully supports, the Sokovia Accords because he’s seen what happens when people like the Avengers aren’t held accountable.
People hate them. Some of the film’s villains are consequences of the Avengers’ past actions; many references to the previous films.
Knowing these things–faced with them–I’d assumed Tony would avoid involving more innocents, especially young ones. So, to me, his involving Peter didn’t make sense. It was inconsistent to what Tony’s ideals became when he supported the Accords.
The Point I’m Trying To Make
Characters grow and learn–they are supposed to, anyway, throughout a story. As authors, we make choices for our characters, and we understand these choices have consequences. They will affect the characters, and it is your job to make sure the readers see this.
After all, we write characters like they are people. Because we are people. We are affected by the choices we make.
We need to remain consistent with the choices we make for our characters. They’re supposed to connect… cause and effect is not just a phrase. Thingss like trauma can linger over a lifespan. It can change one’s behavior and thinking. You don’t need a degree in psychology to see that.
Tony is a great example of that. Ever since The Avengers, the writers who handle Tony’s character keep that event–how it has affected him–around. We see it in Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and here in Captain America: Civil War.
This is consistency. Everything that happens to your character is important.
I hope this post about consistency in characterization and writing read as a post about consistency in characterization and writing.
Posts for this blog haven’t been consistent, but only because I’ve lacked the brain energy to sit and write about something that isn’t for class. I spent over an hour putting this post together, rearranging everything where it made the most sense.
Whenever I have a good idea about writing, I will post.