Hump-Day Help: 3 Things We Can Learn From Marvel’s Civil War



I know what I want to talk to you about today, but my migraine is making it hard for me to use the English language so I’m going to try to used those things called words and see how I do.

Anyway, as you’ve guessed by now, this post is brought to you by…


That’s right…I’m gonna talk about the movie WITHOUT SPOILERS!  The things I’m going to mention are public knowledge from even before the movie came out so…if you’ve not seen the movie, you are safe to continue reading.

Now, why is this post brought to you by a movie? Well, a post on FB yesterday about this movie got me to thinking about character and the reasons they exist in your story.

As many of you know, I have a degree in Theatre Education and used to teach Drama at both the middle school and high school level. My minor is in English…specifically in Shakespeare and Creative Writing. So I usually direct large casted shows AND I tend to go see movies (and plays) and then consider what I’ve learned from them and apply it to writing books because I’m weird. 🙂

This time I’m hoping my weirdness is helpful…if my headache doesn’t work against me. Here goes. I’m going to talk about 3 things we can learn from this movie and I’ll keep them as brief and to the point as I can (for me). 🙂

A. Writing for a Large Cast –

Civil-War-Cast PosterMany folks were concerned when the Avengers movies came out that  having that many characters can cause bad writing where no character gets enough time to show importance (other than to, you know, fight the baddy). Then Joss Whedon surprised those skeptics (like I knew he would). That said, the story of Civil War (penned by Jack Kirby, Mark Millar, and Joe Simon) is a work of art. If you want to know how to use your large cast effectively, watch this movie. Not only do we get time with all of them, big or small, what they do sets us up for the continuation of the universe (*cough cough* Infinity War *cough cough*) as well as expanding their character. Always a plus. THESE two things are something to always keep in mind when you have a large number of characters. Are some of them throwaways? Sure! But ones that you keep around, know why you do and let that drive your story.

B. The Purpose of an Added Character 

Spider-ManAs we all know, SONY “leant” Spider-Man to Marvel to be added to this movie. Many have been asking why since the original Civil War storyline from the comics isn’t followed to the letter. They felt his chatter and juvenile behavior wasn’t needed. But it was. We need perspective…and this movie is all about giving us perspective.

Known Fact: The “war” between Tony’s side and Steve’s side is about signing a piece of paper that makes the Avengers answer to someone. One favors, one doesn’t, they both have valid reasons…etc. etc. etc. But those papers are brought about because unlike other superhero movies of the past, this alters your perspective as a viewer to think about the bad that has occurred when the Avengers were “saving” the world. No one has really ever addressed this at this scale.

Spider-Man is another way of giving the viewer perspective. It shows the difference of age (which throws great light onto our characters). Heck, there’s lines peppered throughout this entire movie about the age of these guys and their futures. Having Peter there not only makes it blazingly apparent to us (if you missed all the subtle hints) but it also connects him to the group in a way that I feel will be important moving forward. He’s not like the rest (and some of you are happy for that as you found him annoying)…just like the next wave of Marvel movies will not be like what we’ve seen so far. Plus, the underlying thing with Spider-Man is…say it with me now, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And that, my friends, is very much what Civil War is about.

So how does this translate to writing. First and foremost, see the big picture of your story or series. Secondly, remember that not all your characters need to be the same. Their differences will give your work depth and to offer up alternative views (whether they are right or wrong) and thus create a richer world for them to live in. Personally, I love David Coe’s Quick Tip Tuesday post called, What We Can Learn From Ro Laren, where he refers to this…so go read that post after this one. It expands on what I’m alluding to better than I could probably explain it.

3. Crafting a Character (we want more of) –

Black Panther- MarvelIf you’re going to do it, do it right…and the way they introduce Black Panther is done right! I had no real strong interest in the upcoming movie about him (because I knew nothing about this character)…but I’m chomping at the bit now. I’m sold! I’ve drunk the Cool-Aid! Give me the Black Panther movie NOW!

My point? When you add a character into a story and you’ve done it right, your reader will want more of them. So if you find you forget about them (I’ve done this) or you don’t crave to spend more time with them (and not because they are the bad guy or gross in a twisted way that would make all but serial killers uncomfortable) your readers might not care either. So think about not just backstory, or purpose, but the crafting of those things as well…that is vital. Way to go, Marvel, on this one! Sincerely wonderfully done!!! For both Spider-Man and Black Panther!

That’s it for me this time around, until then, write hard, bathe in imagination, and go see Civil War if you have not yet. It sincerely is the best Marvel movie out so far and bonus? It’s filled with examples of some well crafted writing (plot/character/dialogue) as well as using all three effortlessly to set up for the future of the universe…or in book speak, the series.

Tamsin 🙂


Originally from Michigan, Tamsin L. Silver is the creator/writer of two YA Urban Fantasy Series, Windfire and The Sabrina Grayson Novels, as well as the Web Series, Skye of the Damned. She graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in Theatre/Secondary Education and a minor in Creative Writing/Shakespeare. She has taught both middle school and high school theatre and run two successful theater companies, one of which in the place she currently lives: New York City. You can learn more about her and find links to all her things at



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