Words by: Jack Dawson
It’s been weeks now, and the bad taste left by Batman v Superman is still fresh in mind, but damned if Captain America: Civil War didn’t nearly succeed in eradicating that lingering bitterness. Perhaps part of the reason it didn’t completely succeed is that so much of Civil War feels like a crushing rebuke to the absurdities and inconsistencies of Batman v Superman, as if Marvel executives wrote a detailed description of everything wrong with Batman v Superman and proceeded to do the exact opposite. The characters are compelling, the dilemma human and tragic, and the fight scenes thrilling.
Plus, it has Spiderman.
It’s been years since the events of The Winter Soldier, where Captain America’s brainwashed comrade Bucky Barnes left to reconcile himself with his actions as a brainwashed drone of Hydra, and in the meantime civilians have begun grumbling about the collateral damage caused by the Avengers. The UN demands that The Avengers sign an accord which would place them under the control of an International Council that would hold them accountable, something which Tony Stark and Steve Rogers disagree over. Sinister Machinations and tragic misunderstandings abound, and a titanic struggle between two friends looms.
If there’s one thing that Civil War perfects, it’s depicting the friendships and rivalries between the major players of the Marvel universe. Action-packed scenes and quiet scenes are used in concert to establish the relationships between the characters and how they react under pressure, so that even someone with no foreknowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity will understand what motivates each character.
Even where the plot calls for characters to act in a radically different manner or against their better natures, said actions are justified and expanded upon so that the conflict between characters seems both inevitable and mournful. It’s one thing for Tony Stark to find Steve Roger’s self-righteousness irritating, it’s another for Tony Stark to feel guilty for creating a homicidal AI and suffering chronic pain from a new device he’s built to simulate the last time he saw his parents.
This also belies one of the secrets of Civil War’s success, the scope of the story remains focused and personal. Avengers: Age of Ultron was a bloated mess that was ambitious in scope and clumsy in execution, partly because it was aspiring to be twice as epic as the first Avengers movie.
Civil War isn’t worried about being an epic, it’s content being the story of two tragic friendships in Steve Rogers’ life, and the effect of growing public discontent on his fellow superheroes. And thanks to that narrow focus, the ensemble cast are adequately fleshed out and all given moments to shine.
Of course there isn’t such a thing as a perfect movie, and Civil War does stumble in the course of its narrative. To begin with, I think Marvel might want to cut down on the romances in their films, since the canon romances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that are compelling and watchable can be counted on one hand. There are two love stories in this film, one between Steve and Sharon Carter (who is the niece of his former Lady-Love Peggy Carter) and one between The Vision and Scarlet Witch. The latter is actually somewhat compelling, and is at least given room to breathe and develop, but the former is rushed and sloppy, even with some very rudimentary set-up present in The Winter Soldier.
And while the film is wise in focusing on the conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, I do wish that Baron Zemo got more interesting things to do, even though his bland appearance and mannerisms are part of the point.
I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of Captain America: Civil War, I haven’t even touched upon its excellent effects or how Black Panther and Spiderman have some of the best scenes in the movie. I could gush about this movie all day, but at the end of the day it boils down to the fact that this is a fun, watchable, thought-provoking movie that embodies everything good about Comic-Book movies.
Plus, it has Spiderman.