25 Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Captain America: Civil War

A Reel Leadership Article

What could be considered Marvel Comic’s biggest superhero team, The Avengers, are split in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.

Captain America: Civil War is about the struggle two leaders of the Avengers. One wants to move towards government control and sanctions. The other believes this will lead the Avengers to be controlled by those government agencies.

Captain America teaches us leadership

The Avengers split. Half of the Avengers join Captain America. The others side with Iron Man.

This rips the Avengers apart.

We see friend fighting friend. We see beloved characters injured. We see what a split in leadership can do to an organization.

And, as always, we see leadership lessons in a movie.

WARNING: Captain America: Civil War Spoilers Ahead

Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War

1. Steve Rogers/Captain America:

What do you see?

Captain America: Civil War opens up with The Avengers on a mission. Steve Rogers is asking the team what do they see as they’re getting ready to execute.

Steve knew his team had to have their eyes open. They had to be aware and ready for the danger they may face.

Do you keep your team members alert to what may be coming their way?

Help your team to realize they need to be looking out for issues which may arise. They shouldn’t be oblivious to what is going on.

2. There may be collateral damage: Captain America takes on the villain Crossbones and handily beats him. Except for one issue. Crossbones was prepared to die for his cause. He had a bomb ready to go off.

The Scarlett Witch steps in and contains him. Something goes wrong though and he was able to blow up a building with civilians inside. There was collateral damage.

As much as we hate it, our actions don’t always turn out the way we would like them to. We make a bad call and people get hurt.

Whether that’s through poor financial decisions or a bad hire, collateral damage happens in organizations.

3. Tony Stark:

Break some eggs!

I love this saying by Tony Stark as he encouraged students to get out there and make mistakes.

Are you willing to let your team members make mistakes? To crack a few eggs?

These messes are great learning opportunities. You and your team are able to see what works and what doesn’t.

4. King T’Chaka:

Victory at the expense of innocents is no victory at all

King T’Chaka gave this message at a governmental meeting that was discussing the destruction that was left in the wake of the Avengers taking care of business.

There were innocents injured. And that made their victory null and void.

It’s a tough message to swallow.

We know people may be hurt by our leadership.

Now, we’ve got to ask ourselves: Did we lead well? Is our success a victory with what we’ve left behind?

The answer is up to you.

5. Leaders accept responsibility: The previous Marvel movies have seen some major destruction occur while the heroes were saving innocents. In Civil War, we see the mental repercussions of these incidents.

Captain America struggled with the damage he caused. Iron Man blamed himself for the death of a young man.

Each hero struggled with what happened. With that struggle, they also took responsibility.

They admitted it was their fault. They didn’t run from it.

As a leader, are you willing to take responsibility for what happens? Are you willing to say it’s my fault?

This is a good question to ask yourself.

6. Our actions have consequences: The whole premise behind Captain America: Civil War is that the Avengers have been left unchecked and their actions have left behind death and destruction.

Their actions, while noble and good, left people grieving and cities destroyed. There were consequences.

Every action you take in your business has a consequence. These consequences could be good. They could be bad.

Either way, you have to accept this.

7. Tony Stark/Iron Man:

There’s no decision-making process here. We need to be put in check! Whatever form that takes, I’m game. If we can’t accept limitations. We’re bounder-less. We’re no better than the bad guys.

We can’t go on unchecked. There has to be boundaries for what we can or cannot do.

8. Margaret “Peggy” Carter:

Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, YOU move’.

Regardless if you want to or not, there will be times when compromise is the way to get things done. This is great if the compromise is acceptable. If the compromise benefits both parties and doesn’t cross any moral or ethical boundaries, go for it.

But there are times when we can’t compromise. We must stand firm in our convictions and say No.

9. Compromising can make us give up more than we realize: Going along with Peggy’s quote, Steve Roger speaks realizes this government oversight will make the Avengers give up more than they realize. This is why he pushes back.

Be aware of what you’re getting into. Are you agreeing to something that you can live with? Have you looked at the option thoroughly?

10. Do something nice for those you’re serving with: In a somewhat silly scene, we see the Vision cooking dinner for the Scarlett Witch. He wanted to do something nice for her and cooking it was.

Don’t do something nice to manipulate others. Do something nice to connect with them. Show them you care by serving them.

11. Vision:

I wish to understand it. The more I do, the less it controls me.

When we don’t understand the things we should, we let them control us.

If you don’t understand something that is a part of your organization or leadership, dive into it. Study it. Learn it. Gain control over it and break the control it has over you.

12. Your leadership mantle will pass: After King T’Chaka passed away, his mantle of as king (and Black Panther) passed to his son, T’Challa. His position as a leader wasn’t permanent. It was temporary.

The same goes for you or me. Our leadership is temporary. We won’t lead forever.

Be training up someone who can take your place. Help them to understand the role and responsibility of a leader.

13. General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross:

Tell me, Captain. Do you know where Thor and Banner are right now? If I misplaced a couple of Mega-ton Nukes, you can bet there’ll be consequences.

Once again, we see there are consequences to our actions. We have to be ready for them.

14. We may not get the full story: As Captain America: Civil War progresses, we begin to realize we didn’t get the full story of Bucky’s mission at the beginning of the movie. There was more to the mission. Much more.

This was revealed in flashbacks throughout the movie and a movie that Zemo played for Captain America, Iron Man, and Winter Soldier.

Like this movie trope, we don’t get the full store. There are gaps. There are missing pieces.

15. Tony Stark/Iron Man:

Why are you doing this?

Tony wanted to know why Steve Rogers would choose to split the Avengers up. He couldn’t wrap his mind around what Steve was doing.

You may feel the same way. You may not understand why a business partner chooses to go down another path.

Reality is, we’re all different. We have different life experiences and these are going to impact the choices that we make.

16. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow:

Is this part of the plan?

Our plans will not always go the way we think they should. Be prepared to make adjustments.

17. Great leaders make sacrifices: The members of Team Captain America knew how important the safety of Winter Soldier and Captain America.

They were willing to sacrifice their safety and lives to ensure they made it out.

I thought this was a great example of leadership. We see these heroes band together to get the job done. Even at the expense of their freedom.

Great leaders are willing to make sacrifices.

18. Steve Rogers/Captain America:

I’m sorry, Tony. If I see a situation pointed south, I can’t ignore it. Sometimes I wish I could.”

Great leaders know they can’t ignore situations that require them to take action. Leaders are called to do what they must to get things done.

19. We think things are impossible when they are actually possible: Tony Stark thought the Vision couldn’t get distracted. He thought it was an impossibility.

As we saw, this wasn’t the case. The Vision got distracted.

What do you think is impossible in your life? Is it really impossible or is it a mindset issue?

20. We make the wrong choice: Tony Stark thought he knew what was best. He made his decision and led with that.

But he was wrong. He didn’t know the full story. And he regretted it later on.

You may think you know what the right choice is. Yet it may not be. You may be missing information or made a poor judgment call.

Be okay with it. Then be willing to fix the wrong choice you made.

21. Steve Rogers/Captain America:

This isn’t going to change what happened.

22. Danger can be closer than we think: Zemo had a reason for trying to split the Avengers. His family was killed in the Sokovia incident.

Not for lack of trying to make them safe. He’d sent them to the outskirts of the town. Still, danger was nearby and Zemo didn’t realize this.

You may want to let down your guard because you think it’s safe. You may make the wrong choice here.

Danger could be closer than you think.

23. Captain America:

He’s my friend.

Iron Man:

So was I…

Captain America was friends with Iron Man. He was also friends with Winter Soldier.

These friendships were put to the test when he had to choose sides.

You may be called upon to pick a side. Know who you’re willing to stand with.

24. Lieutenant James Rhodes/War Machine:

This sucks

Leadership isn’t all fun and games. Leadership can suck at times.

25. You can work with competitors: One of the coolest things about Captain America: Civil War was seeing Spider-Man join Team Iron Man.

While it wasn’t the surprise it should have been, it was a joy to see Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For years, Spider-Man has been a Sony Movies property. They had purchased the rights from Marvel and he could only be used by Sony.

This changed. And it was great to see two movie studios work together for the benefit of their audiences.

Working with a competitor might not be the easiest thing to do. But, as we seen with Sony and Marvel, it is possible.

Don’t write off working with someone you may view as competition. You may find out it works out just fine.

 Should You See Captain America: Civil War?

Seeing as Captain America: Civil War was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, I had high hopes for the movie. Did it meet those expectations?

Oh yeah! In fact, Captain America: Civil War exceeded my expectations.

It’s currently tied as my favorite Marvel movie with its predecessor Captain America: Winter Soldier.

These two Captain America movies have set the standard for storytelling and comic book movies in my mind.

So, if you haven’t seen Civil War yet, what are you waiting for? See it at your first possible opportunity!

Question: Have you seen Captain America: Civil War yet? If so, what was your favorite leadership lesson from the movie? If not, what was your favorite leadership takeaway that I shared? I want to hear about it in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I saw the movie on Saturday night with my son and four of his friends. One of the leadership lessons I pulled from the movie is that we all have a unique perspective on what is right and wrong. We need to continually pursue knowledge, so we can best make a decision on what is right.

    • That’s a good one Jon. Both Captain America and Iron Man thought they had all the insights they needed. As we saw with Iron Man, he didn’t have the full facts and that clouded his judgement and decision making.

  • Point 11 is so important! What we don´t understand keeps us under control. Never thought about it from this point of view. True, knowledge is freedom!

  • Jeffrey P. Rush

    I would add that one should be willing to change their position in the face of new or overwhelming or just plain emotion (cf. Black Widow in the hangar, “I told you I’d help you find him . . .”