There’s little debate about whether or not CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is a good movie, because most people agree that Marvel has once again provided a film of quality, in addition to its entertainment value. It’s not worthy of a Best Picture nomination, and I’ve yet to see anyone suggest that it might be deserving. It does a good job of introducing a couple major players into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and presenting all of it’s large cast with the respect they deserve.
The main discussion I’ve heard about CIVIL WAR is about how it’s an Avengers film, not really a Captain America film.
And isn’t that rich? Every time people talk about Iron Man 3, they talk about how Stark’s “enhanced” friends would’ve shown up to help, what with the President being involved. Same with WINTER SOLDIER having a huge flying ship come crashing into DC. So now that a Captain America film has the full team in it, suddenly it’s not a Captain America film?
Oh, it most certainly is a Captain America film. It’s not an Avengers film.
This film, at its core, is about the beliefs and morals and ethics of Steve Rogers. Yes, they use other characters as comparative tools, but the film centers around him. The plot is all about how his friend, Bucky, is being hunted down by government organizations who don’t want The Avengers to act autonomously, and how those two concepts are viewed by Captain America. By the end of the film, the Avengers are forced to view those two things through the eyes of Steve Rogers.
This is not an Iron Man movie. Tony Stark, whether you like him or not, is the antagonist of this film. That might not be a popular opinion with most people, because almost everyone I know was Team Stark before going into the film. Just like most people were Team Batman going into this year’s other big Hero V Hero film this year, where, likewise, the popular pick, was one of the antagonists. The Dark Knight was more of an asshole than Tony Stark was in this year’s offering, but neither one of them was the protagonist.
And CIVIL WAR wasn’t about the trials and tribulations surrounding putting a team together, or the team dynamic. It wasn’t about finding a way to combine the powers of several enhanced individuals to fight a tough-to-defeat bad guy. That wasn’t the theme at its core. It was all about how characters were interacting with the boy scout ideology of Captain America and how their ideologies played out as the villain enacted his plan. It wasn’t about Tony Stark’s ideology, because there wasn’t any friction when it came to him voicing his side of the story until Rogers spoke up.
It would be surprising if Robert Downey Jr felt like this was an Avengers movie. Or Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Chadwick Bostman, Elizabeth Olsen or the other big named characters. Because they know that their storyline arcs all drew back to what was going on with the character Chris Evans brings to life, carrying that shield on his back like he carries all of the Captain America films.
During the important scenes, where was the focus? Set on that shield. When you describe what any other character was doing in the film, how do you explain their role? In terms of how it relates to Captain America.
I’m surprised that there isn’t more negativity surrounding the film, because although I didn’t have major problems with it, there are plenty of minor complaints to be had with CIVIL WAR plotholes and logical discrepancies that viewers were quick to point out with BATMAN V SUPERMAN, and MAN OF STEEL for that matter. The Avengers get called out by the government and grieving private citizens for causing destruction and death, and yet, no one talks about the fact that they intervened to stop a bad guy from destroying civilization as we know it. In one scene from CIVIL WAR, a bad guy blows himself up, and to save everyone around the bad guy from death, Scarlet Witch hoists him up into the air. The blast takes out part of a building, and it’s said that a dozen people, or so, were killed. Yet, if she hadn’t lifted the guy into the air, he easily would’ve killed far more people than that in the crowded market, including at least two members of the Avengers.
This film had some great moments. The two debuting characters were both exciting and played key roles in the plot. I really like how they portrayed Black Panther, and I think they’ve built a strong base on which the talented Chadwick Boseman can build. They gave him a sense of deeply entrenched values, and they seem to do it effortlessly. And now that he’s in every single trailer for the movie, it’s an unavoidable fact that Spider-man is in the film, so as much as I didn’t want to give away that spoiler, chances are good that if you’re reading this review without having seen the film first, you’ve at least watched the trailers. I was initially afraid that Spidey was going to just have a cameo without much explanation, but he gets about as much on-screen time and character development in CIVIL WAR as Wonder Woman gets in DAWN OF JUSTICE. You get a real sense for who he is as a character, both as Peter Parker AND as Spidey. I initially balked when someone told me that Holland does a great job as both, doubting that CIVIL WAR would give enough evidence to make that sort of opinion, but it does, and they’re right.
As expected, CIVIL WAR is a very enjoyable ride and justice is done for all of the characters who deserve more than just a cameo style role. I don’t have any major quibbles with the minor plot holes and flawed logic, but most people don’t seem to have issues there either. Still, it feels like they didn’t dig deeply enough into the Us Vs Them conflict with the government on this New World Order they are establishing, where heroes are only to act at the behest of the government. I’d have to think that in the follow-up films, they will have to address that, because, not to diminish an otherwise strong storyline concept CIVIL WAR puts into place, this film felt like nothing more than internal debate to see whether or not the group as a whole was willing to go along with the new restrictions and regulations. A very entertaining debate at that.
My Rating: 90 out of 100