Australian Council on Children and the Media

Captain America: Civil war

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Not suitable under 13; not recommended under 15 due to intense violence including torture, and disturbing scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Captain America: Civil war
  • a review of Captain America: Civil war completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 May 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to intense violence including torture, and disturbing scenes.
Children 13 to 15 Not recommended due to intense violence including torture, and disturbing scenes.
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Captain America: Civil war
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 147 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film opens with Avengers Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in Lagos Nigeria following the exploits of Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo). Brock is busy creating mayhem by threatening to release a highly contagious virus he has stolen. Captain America and the Avengers manage to capture the virus from Brock but at the cost of the destruction of a seven story building and numerous lives.

As a result of the collateral damage caused by the Avengers in their protection of humanity, world governments have decided that the Avengers (viewed by some as heroes and others as vigilantes) should be accountable for their actions and operate under the guidance of a panel. General Ross tells the Avengers that if they refuse to sign a document agreeing to cooperate (the Sokovia Accords) they will be retired.

Not all members of the Avengers team agree with the dictates of the Sokovia Accords and the team is split apart, with Iron-Man (Robert Downey Jr.), War-Machine, Black Widow, and Vision signing the Accords while Captain America, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch refuse to sign.

In Vienna, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) allegedly blows up the building where the Sokova Accords are being signed, killing hundreds of people. To avoid having the Winter Soldier killed before the real orchestrator of the Vienna tragedy is discovered, Captain America and his retired team decide to track down and capture the Winter Soldier. They are immediately labelled criminals and are hunted by Iron-Man and his team. The resulting head-on clash between the two teams of Avengers has devastating consequences.  

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Superheroes; superpowers; suicide bombing; betrayal and revenge

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains extended sequences of action violence and scenes of torture and suicide bombing. There are multiple deaths with the depiction of some injury and blood and gore. Examples include:

  • A brutal fight between Avengers and terrorists. During the fight we see Captain America repeatedly using his shield to smash attackers in the face, head and body, kicking one attacker in the head and slamming another into a stone pillar. Scarlet Witch levitates attackers and then throws them through the air. Black Widow uses kicks and punches to the face and body and also shoots a man in the head. A truck being used as a battering ram crashes into a building while men wielding automatic guns, cannons and grenades fire at the Avengers. One explosion throws Captain America out of a multi-story building. 
  • A man detonates an explosive device strapped to his body. His body is consumed by a bright flash and the explosion causes massive damage to an apartment building.  Later we hear that a number of people were killed and injured.
  • A torture scene depicts a man hanging upside down from the ceiling with his hands tied behind his back. His head is directly above a sink that is being filled with water. A second man questions the hanging man while the sink fills with water. As the water reaches the man’s chin he struggles until he finally drowns.
  • A man is strapped to a mind control machine and his body convulses and he screams in pain when the machine is turned on.
  • A van packed with explosives explodes, destroying a building crowded with people. People are hurled through the air and bodies and debris cover the floor. A man sits crying on the floor cradling the dead body of his father in his arms; blood is spattered on the man’s face and shirt front.
  • One extended action scene shows a head-on battle between two evenly matched groups of Avengers, each using their unique abilities to fight.
  • A man rides a motor bike next to the driver’s side of the car and causes the car to go out of control and burst into flames. The man walks up to the burning car and pulls the driver out then repeatedly punches the unconscious driver in the face until he is dead. Before the scene ends, the attacker walks around to the woman’s side of the car where she is seen trapped in the flames.
  • One of the Avengers flying through the air in a powered suit is hit by a laser beam and falls to the ground. He lies unconscious in a crater with blood on his face and is later shown with spinal damage, trying to walk with leg braces.
  • A number of dead bodies are seen inside stasis tubes, each with a bullet wound to the forehead. A man says they ‘died in their sleep’ inferring that he murdered them in the stasis tubes. 
  • A man describes how his wife and child were killed when a building collapsed. He says that when the screaming stopped it took him two days to find the bodies and that his dead father was still holding them. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are numerous disturbing scenes and scary characters, including

  • an evil character who wears a bone coloured mask with skull-like qualities. In one scene the mask is removed to reveal a badly disfigured face with burn scars. 
  • a man in a panther costume with cat-like claws
  • a man with a metal arm
  • a man with a bald head, red skin and implants on his forehead who emits a laser beam from his eyes

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes and characters described above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes and characters described above

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the scenes described above

Product placement

None of concern in the film, but associated products are marketed to children

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • a father infers that his son has had sexual relationships with a number of women.
  • a man talks about separating from his partner.   

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A man passionately kisses a woman on the lips.
  • One female character wears a tight-fitting body suit.   

 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man in a hospital-like setting is strapped to a bed with an IV tube inserted into his arm. A blue liquid flows throw the tube and as it enters the man’s arm he arches his back and screams.
  • One scene depicts several men physically enhanced by drugs fighting to the death. One of the deranged men, after killing one attacker, brutally slays a doctor.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Son of a bitch; “hell” ; “arse” ; “shit” ; “damn it” ; O god; pissed off; Jesus

In a nutshell

Captain America: Civil war is a superhero action film featuring Marvel Comic characters and targeting older teens and adult fans of the series. It is the third in this series and the most intense of the three Captain America films. The film is all about the need to consider the real world consequences of actions and the resulting fallout of grief, anguish and revenge.  There are intense scenes of action violence, torture, and a suicide bombing which make the film unsuitable for children under 13 and not recommended under 15.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • taking responsibility for your actions
  • protecting your friends
  • commitment to ideals

Parents may wish to discuss the beliefs of the opposing groups of Avengers, the issues involved, and whether a choice can be made as to which group is right.

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