So Vanessa and I went with our friends to watch Captain America: Civil War last night. It was amazing.
After the movie, we all went out to a diner and over late-night milkshakes we talked about what made the movie so good. We touched on things like the dynamic action sequences, witty (often laugh-out-loud) dialogue, and, of course, the inclusion of Black Panther and SPIDER-MAN!
But one of the most important components in making this story a success lies in the excellent storytelling itself.
For those uninitiated, the story of Civil War revolves around the heroes of the Marvel Universe taking sides over a controversial piece of global legislation. The basic question is, "Do the countries of the world have the authority to direct the actions of the Avengers?"
Iron Man says YES. Captain America says NO.
What Civil War accomplished in their storytelling, however, was the equal justification of both of these choices. We, as the audience, understand and expect Iron Man's acceptance of the new global legislation. Likewise, we can empathize with the choices of Captain America. The same can be said for every other character in the movie. No matter where we fall personally on the spectrum of the issue at hand (should superheroes submit their powers to a global authority) we can at least acknowledge the validity of everyone else's choice.
The takeaway from this movie, as an author, is the importance of justified character motivations. Every choice by every character has to be earned within the story. Villains cannot do evil stuff just because they're bad. Within the framework of that character there must be some reason why an "evil" choice seems legitimate. Likewise, when heroes do something heroic, there must exist within the story a justification for their choice (and "just because" is never good enough).
We can contrast this to the turning point of DC and Warner Brother's Batman v. Superman when the two heroes reconcile over the shared first name of their respective mothers. This is a weak motivation that does not justify the subsequent truce AT BEST. At worst, it is the hallmark of lazy storytelling, and the belief that the audience will blindly accept any slop put up on the screen.
This is why DC continues to fail when it comes to movies, and Marvel reigns as king.
Storytelling (and character motivation) makes all the difference.