Sunday, May 8, 2016

Civil War

Captain America: Civil War (or as my friend Matt Penn insists it must be called "The War of Superhero Aggression") manages to transmogrify the 2006 crossover even that made me virtually stop reading Marvel into an entertaining film, though it is inferior to its predecessor, Winter Soldier.

Civil War plays with interesting thematic elements: individual freedom vs. control, dealing with consequences of well-intended acts, the destructiveness of vengeance, Iron Man vs. Captain America (ok, not a theme)--but mostly it's about superheroes wailing on each other, and it doesn't think a whole lot about what it has to do to get there. So we get an unelected monarchy lecturing the Avengers about accountability after a handful of civilians die when the Avengers prevent the release of a toxin into the city of Lagos that would have killed who knows how many, and the U.S. secretary of state rushes headlong into putting American superheroes (several of whom were super-secret agents of the U.S. government just a film ago) into the hands some sort of UN committee.

Now, even if all that can be made since of with the pat "the Marvel Universe is different from our own," we also get former soldier Captain America being the staunch "we can't be under someone else's control!" guy, which for most of the translates as "my friends shouldn't have to face consequences for their actions!" The film has to have those who oppose him behave stupidly and heavy-handedly to make his position justified.

The villain in the film seems to have accounted for all these things, because his plan hinges entirely on people performing very specific actions that there's no way of knowing they would do. He and Batman vs. Superman's Lex Luthor must have take the same super-villain prognostication classes.

All this, though, is in service of a superhero punch 'em up, which is a sight to behold. We get all of Marvel's crew and sees some great tricks pulled out including one big reveal I won't spoil, but also the classic bit of Ant-Man riding Hawkeye's arrow. This battle is probably the best done multiple characters battle in a supers film-- it beats any of the X-men films in that regard, I think.

We also get the intros of Black Panther and Spider-Man. I'm ready for that Black Panther film now. This Spider-Man is probably my 3rd favorite cinematic portrayal (though I have no doubt there are many places where Marvel Cinematic Universe adherents are proclaiming he's finally "done right" now that he's in the "Universe.") but I don't blame the actor as much as the writing and the use he's put to in the film.

All in all, it's a solid superhero film. I'd put it above Age of Ultron.


Cross Planes said...

I really liked this film, but it went WAY out of its way to make Tony Stark a heel. Especially in the final act.

How is it all of these smart people don't realize that they won't be able to decide their missions anymore?

And how is it Iron Man's team, who is supposed to be so concerned with collateral damage and consequences immediately is firing missiles at comrades or cutting down an air traffic control tower to block two people from reaching a hangar?

And the "villain" should at least have been psychic to go so far afield to achieve his goals.

Black Panther was visually cool, but we didn't really get to see T'Challa's personality (one of my favorite characters) until the end.

JB said...

@ Trey:

Huh. I finally had the chance to see the film (and blog about it) a few days ago, but I somehow missed all these reviews around my corner of the blog-o-sphere. Glad to see I'm not the only one that felt the plot was pretty flimsy.

I will say, though, that while my initial reaction was ALSO "this is better than Age of Ultron," after actually going back and re-watching Ultron, I reversed my ranking (i.e. Avengers 2 is a better film, than Civil War). The problem is, I hate the way Cap (one of my all time favorites) is portrayed in AoU. Well, that AND the Ant-Man material. Oh, and much better in CA:CW.

Okay...enough nerding out for now.
; )

Trey said...

Well, if that's all the nerding you've got... ;)

I may need to rewatch AoU to do a fair comparison.