Captain America: Civil War
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Based on: the comic by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Sequel to: Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, Martin Freeman, William Hurt, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard, Stan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 1.5.2016
After the recent events surrounding the Avengers, the UN feels it necessary to institute some kind of regulation for the action of superheroes. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who feels guilty about all the damage, destruction and death that happened on his watch and due to his decisions, thinks that’s a very good idea, while Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) fears that they will cease to be an effective task force, bogged down by bureaucracy, if they have to wait for approval by somebody else. And who’s to say that that somebody will make the right decisions and work for the right things? This disagreement causes a schism in the Avengers – a schism that only gets broader when Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is accused of planting a bomb in the UN meeting where the regulation is to be discussed and Steve wants to protect him at all cost.
I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So far, the films were always entertaining, even if varying in quality. With Avengers: Age of Ultron, [or with Guardians of the Galaxy although that isn’t that closely connected] they started to stumble, though and those smaller missteps are starting to get more notable the longer the series goes on. Civil War proves that: while it was far from awful and delivered on many counts, I felt more unsatisfied with it than with most of the earlier MCU films.
Civil War had the potential to discuss some interesting and serious issues regarding superheroes in general [kind of like Watchmen]. But it never actually lets any discussion happen. Instead some people get to outline their basic point of view and then the rest is divvied up mostly by social ties and not due to any convictions and then they start hitting each other. Insightful. The deeper issues fall by the wayside in favor of the fight scenes. Admittedly, the one at the airport is really very entertaining and I loved it, but it is still the symptom of a major wasted opportunity.
Equally problematic is the fact that this is a Captain America movie and not an Avengers movie. It means that the movie is very much with Steve Rogers and his perspective, basically suggesting who is right in this conflict from the get-go, nevermind whatever good arguments Tony Stark and “his side” might have. Had it been an Avengers film – and since it is an issue that affects all of the Avengers, one has to wonder why it isn’t – people would have maybe more reason to think for themselves which side they would take.
Speaking of: the fact alone that there are two sides that seem so mutually exclusive is already a weird set up. The question of actionability vs accountability is not new. Police and military all over the world have to face it and have found solutions. Sure, some are better than others and they need to be revised and reevaluated continuously, but both Tony’s and Steve’s concerns could have been addressed in some kind of agreement. If only they had actually discussed it.
But even apart from the central conflict that just wasn’t very well handled, there were a couple of things that just didn’t work for me. Steve’s relationship with Sharon (Emily VanCamp) being probably the most offensive one, making her – to borrow the internet’s phrasing – the embodiment of No Homo. [I’m totally here for bisexual Steve Rogers.] Or Quicksilver’s death that was already ineffective when it happened and was made even more meaningless by not being mentioned in the film and having no effect on anybody, not even Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). [I still believe he’ll be back btw.]
Nevertheless, if you don’t think too hard about it, Civil War is an entertaining film. By now we know the characters so well [thank you, fandom] that we quickly ease into the established patterns at the beginning of the film and then can just lean back and enjoy their interactions, the fast-paced action, the humorous one-liners. And the film certainly delivers on those. I also enjoyed the introduction of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) [still hoping for more women though].
I just expected more. Above all, I expected more depth. Maybe my expectations were too high, but they certainly weren’t fulfilled.
Summarizing: Solid but not what it could have been.