Semi-long overdue prime reaction to Captain America: Civil War.
2016 has bombarded me with bad piece of media after bad piece of media only semi-rectified by a super late screening of Zootopia. So I put what little faith I had left into this movie. Thankfully, Marvel Studios does it again.
Spoiler-free review –
I’m struggling to decide whether I liked it more than The Winter Soldier which is at the top of my Marvel Cinematic Universe list. No contest whether or not this was better than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Civil War succeeded at many of the same things Dawn of Justice failed at. The characters were likable and defined to where you care about each and every one. The new characters had characters and made you want to see more of them. Their interactions were on point and entertaining. The villain had motivations. It was a clash of ideals instead of… a clash. Two-sided argument that actually played out! The action, themes, dialogue, comedy, and story were all just fantastic. I can go on… and I will, later.
Go see this movie. Marvel Studios is making plenty of money, but it’s well-deserved. Captain America’s department keeps getting better and better. Raising the bar in a genre that’s now taken seriously and dominating it time and again. I don’t like all the Marvel films, but at this point the good ones they’ve done more than make up for their bad ones. Maximum effort!
REVIEW WITH FREE SPOILERS
I liked Spider-Man. I’m sort of with the people who think he’s too young… looking/sounding. As Spider-Man/Peter Parker, I think the performance was spot on. Great mix of nerdy, but likable Peter and the dialogue I expect from Spidey. The last two franchises couldn’t find the right blend. This might be my first time hearing a really young Peter, but I can put that aside for the amazing portrayal. I’m looking forward to where they’ll be taking him.
Black Panther’s design was very cool. His suit being made of Vibranium along with his relentlessness and fighting style made him a joy to watch during action scenes. He’s also one of the few characters who goes through an arc. Unlike most of the Avengers, Black Panther comes from Wakanda, a location ripe for world-building and new lore. I feel like he got jipped because the post-credits scene says Spider-Man will return, but what about this guy? Sure, we’re seeing Spidey first, but you get my point.
These are two new characters that needed to win people over. The important thing is how they told us little, but introduced them enough to where we want to see more of them. Didn’t have to see Uncle Ben die. Didn’t even mention it. Unlike Spider-Man, moviegoers don’t really know Black Panther so to show his father die makes sense. That’s how you do it. Both are memorable in their own way and will get people coming back.
As for younger Aunt May… I don’t get it. Unless there’s going to be a unique dynamic a younger Aunt May brings to Peter’s character, as of now it’s a nonsensical change. I have to see where this goes.
The villain was underwhelming, but that’s nitpicking. I suppose at worst he won’t be very memorable. What he represented and why he was the villain I totally understand and it’s nice to see a regular guy screw with our heroes. His motivations tie into the story’s main conflict very well. Besides, the action climax more than made up for the lack of a huge fight with a supervillain. Not a favorite villain of mine, but like Loki, he’s the only other villain to make it out alive so we’ll be getting more of him. Most importantly, he won. He did what he set out to do. More than I can say for the villains before him.
I liked every scene with Ant-Man. That Paul Rudd charm is front and center. His reaction to meeting Captain America was great. Tony dismissing him was great. I really wanted to see Ant-Man again after this. Giant Man on the big screen was fun to watch and didn’t look terrible short of one part where eyes in the helmet looked off. Otherwise, a worthy closer to that airport battle.
In my Age of Ultron review, I complained that Tony wasn’t held accountable for creating Ultron even if he helped to create Vision who took Ultron down. We all like Tony, but he’s gotten away with a lot. That’s all covered here. His guilt over the people that were killed as a result of Ultron and the casualties in general have finally gotten to him. He still wanted to be Iron Man and help people, but under government control hoping that would prevent unintended damage. The scene in the undersea prison with Clint was really hard to watch, but the fact that I cared means they did their job. Though I find it funny that Tony was wrong again on the other winter soldiers. At least he’s consistent?
With Captain America, he doesn’t like the idea of handing the Avengers over to the government. Being a good guy/hero is in his DNA. He doesn’t want marching orders because he can’t turn his back on anyone who needs help. Even if some get hurt in the process, the amount they save outweigh that number. I wish they pushed this more. I don’t think anyone directly says this and if they did, it wasn’t a prominent point.
I was on Cap’s side. To him, it’s all about doing the right thing no matter the cost. That’s not to say I disagree with Tony entirely. I completely understand where he’s coming from too and that’s where the story succeeds. The conflict between these two heroes we’ve been following for years makes complete sense. This two-sided argument makes it hard to side with either. They’re both making their choices for all the right reasons. I’m never a fan of heroes fighting each other and if they do, there’d better be a really good reason. This gave me good reasons and it escalates to the point where neither side has no choice but to fight. Tony snapped when he found out Bucky killed his parents. Wouldn’t you? If you were in Cap’s position, wouldn’t you fight Tony to save Bucky? This is just what I need out of a good superhero/vs story.
The action scenes were a joy to experience. I really liked the action in The Winter Soldier because unlike previous outings, these fights were just guys beating each other up. No super powers or long range projectiles involved, but sometimes that’s what makes these choreographed fights more interesting. It’s all real when Captain America’s beating up thugs. They also got better at making use of the terrain/location. Big example being the stairs fight. They could just fight, but no. They incorporate the area and maximize what they can do with everything in the shot. I praised Age of Ultron for the teamwork attacks that show how close they’ve become. There was plenty of that here. My only gripe is in the first scene where Wanda lifts a guy and throws him at Falcon to knock out. Really? She couldn’t do that herself? I do like Falcon’s new tech, especially how his wings can shield him now.
The movie doesn’t end on a happy note. Tony and Cap don’t make up. They don’t simply work together against a common foe. Our heroes are divided, but Cap decided to be the good person he is and sends Tony that note. He knows they’re not okay, but the bridge isn’t completely burnt. They’ll help if they’re needed and all I got from this was that these are true heroes. Come what may, doing the right thing takes priority over all else. I’m almost disappointed that we won’t see how this resolves until at least 2018. That’s a long wait even if we have other things to tide us over.
This does a whole lot of what Batman v Superman attempted but did all of it better. The government tries to deal with super people because of casualties and destruction. We learn how Tony’s parents die just like how we finally see how Bruce’s parents die. Both villains want to manipulate the main heroes into fighting each other. Both action climaxes involved dead moms. Civil War just resonated with me more. It comes down to the fact that I care about the characters. If I didn’t, none of this matters and that’s where Batman v Superman failed. Most of them weren’t integral to the plot. None of them had any sort of an arc. The villain’s “plan” made no sense. Both Batman and Superman were very out of character and I’m not even a comics guy. Rational people wouldn’t act the way these two did. Batman’s smarter than that. I can’t root for either because nothing brought up came to fruition. The casualties of Man of Steel were barely addressed. Really? Superman didn’t help rebuild? Didn’t think he needed to get on the people’s good side? Just ugh. I’m more mad at Batman v Superman after watching Civil War.
Many of the bad superhero movies force way too many things in. Civil War proved it can be done and done well. I was a bit worried about how many characters were here, but somehow they made it work. Dawn of Justice couldn’t even make Wonder Woman as interesting as Spider-Man or Black Panther. I can at least give reasons why I want to see those two, one of which is because both actually have characters. I only want to see Wonder Woman because there’s otherwise nothing to say about her. Civil War was always on track, focused, and I don’t feel like any scene was pointless. I maybe could’ve lived without the opening action scene because there were enough casualties elsewhere, but it’s fine.
I can keep going on, but I don’t know if you guys would want to keep reading. Feel free to ask me about anything I left out if you’d like because there’s plenty to say.