Sunday, May 22, 2016

Captain America: Civil War, reviewed

Yes, I'm the last person on the face of the Earth to see the ruddy film, so sue me.

So, the premise of Civil War begins with a mission in Nigeria that goes sideways and wipes out some civilians. The UN sees this as a good excuse to shackle the Avengers to their whims. US Secretary of State General (ret) Thunderbolt Ross is in charge of the arm twisting.

Meanwhile, a little grey man named Zemo is manipulating things from behind the scenes. First, Zemo attacks the UN conference for the Avengers agreement, framing Bucky "Winter Soldier" Barnes for the attack, making the world a suddenly much smaller place for him to hide.

And then, we're off to the races.

Now let's look at this for a moment, shall we?

This isn't even everybody.  There were twelve characters on screen. And, much to my surprise, each and every one of them had a character moment. They had screen time that made their appearance worthwhile. Some of these people were only on screen for about 5-15 minutes (sorry I'm vague about the time, but I didn't look at my watch once during the entire 2:30 running time).

And keep in mind, they introduced two new heroes. We'll get into both of them in a moment, but think about how much work had to be done here. This wasn't a Captain America film, this was an Avenger movie. And the best part is, there was no SHIELD, no Infinity Gems. And the bad guy was more of a MacGuffin than an antagonist.

The Russo brothers proved that they can take over for Joss Whedon's seat as the directors of Phase 3 of the Marvel universe.

About the villain: I am surprised that they changed the character of Zemo from the comics. He was not at all affiliated with Hydra. I was thrown by it. I was also thrown by the fact that, after a bombing, he did very little in this movie. It was all about thinking, and chess, and playing people. And people were played very well. It almost makes me wonder if he planned the opening scene as well, just to set the events in motion. He was a spymaster. Just a grey little man with nothing special except a plan. It was like George Smiley versus the Avengers, and he almost won.

Team Cap
And the bit players. Yeah. They were fun. Hawkeye didn't steal large parts of the show again, but he came close for a few scenes. Vision and the Scarlet Witch had surprisingly good chemistry on screen, even if, well, he's a robot dressed in a sweater (yes, really). Sharon Carter contributed nice little moments, but didn't feel shoe-horned in. I expected her to have a larger part of the film, but maybe later.

Also, notice, this had Ant-Man. I even liked Ant-Man. There was some good bits of business with him which boil down to spoilers. So moving on.

By the way, remember in Winter Soldier when Peggy Carter brought all the feels? She kinda does that again.

Black Panther And .... 

Meet prince T'Challa of Wakanda. He made his introduction into the MCU with this movie, and he was done surprisingly well. When he is brought into the situation, he is driven by vengeance, and he's also obviously royalty. He carries himself like a king, and you will respect him like one, or he will rip your throat out.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the day, he was the sanest one on the battlefield. I look forward to him having his own movie.

Of course, the other one people talk about is ....

Yup. Back to Spider-Man. Sony and Marvel studios came to an accord after they badly mishandled Amazing Spider Man 2.

However, I can say with all honesty, I like this one. Especially scenes where he's bantering with Tony Stark.

Marissa Tomei as Aunt May is probably more realistic (consider the ages for a moment, you'll see what I mean. Aunt May should be 46, watching after a 16 year old. Not much older. Rosemary Harris, while accurate to the comic, was probably older than she should have been).

Also, this exchange.
Parker: You know that really old movie, The Empire Strikes Back?
War Machine: How old is this kid Tony?
Stark: I don't know. I didn't carbon date him!
I'll take it.

At the end of the day, this was a totally character-driven film. There's plot, but this one relies heavily on the characters. It is the end result of multiple movies coming to fruition. And it never slowed down. And I never looked at my watch once.

Best Marvel film to date. Hands down.

And props for making certain that this image was in the film.


Now, a few things: Last time I had this conversation, after Age of Ultron, I called a few things. Some things weren't that hard to guess. That they brought up Bucky killing Stark's father is not a surprise. I didn't even believe that they made it a "twist" in the film. Was anybody surprised by that?

Blowback happened from the Hulk's rampage in Age of Ultron. Also not surprising.

And of course, the Disassembling of the Avengers. Called it. But then again, not surprising either.

Tell me that last note to Stark wasn't a note from Chris Evans to Marvel fans. "If you need me, call"? Pretty much what Evans said about retiring ... except for Marvel films.


  1. It really should be called "Avengers 2.5"

    If I had ANY complaints it would be...

    1) Tony's "trauma tech" at the start was only a partially fired chekov's gun. I was hoping it would be fired again at the end in efforts to cure/fix Buckey.

    2) I really was waiting for Giant-Ant-Man to shout "AHHHH IS THIS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE?" (while spiderman was on him)

    3) I haven't worked out quite yet how Zemo found out. I think the villain's plan is a case of "step 1 paradox."

    Fun dump

    1. 1) Yeah. Tony's "trauma tech" was disorienting. A cute way to do a flashback, but yikes that threw me. I'm surprised they didn't just do that at the opening. Let's face it, was anyone surprised at the "twist" with the Mission Report?

      2) Okay. That was a good line.

      3) Yes. Zemo was less "kill squad" and more "master spy." It feels like they missed two words during editing the script, and no one caught it.

    2. 2) Thx! Sometimes movie lines seem so obvious to me I wonder why they didn't make it in. (like in Matrix 3 when Mr. Smith demands, "Why? Why do you keep fighting?" I was waiting for Neo to cry, "To piss you off!")

      3) Yeah it's always the question of, if nobody knows about "mission report/macguffing/whatever" then how does anybody know to search for it? I heard something about a hydra file dump but...

      3 more things bugged me.

      4) Opening, you notice Black Widow doing body blows to guys much larger than her? I almost burst out laughing at that point. Did the CGI funds run out and they forgot to put her stingers going off?

      5) Some of the sequences & stuff started to get cartoonish. I kind of wish the closing fight where Bucky is trying to climb up with Tony shooting at him had been trimmed down or cut for more banter & character.

      6) I really did want even more character moments. Like why didn't Scarlett Witch act more torn about her roles in the previous Avengers? She had as much to do with the city's damage as the Avengers did. Yet never once was there something like her empathizing with Bucky needing to make amends or expression over her own guilt/regret. Or heck she would have a very valid point about being manipulated into doing something one shouldn't. I definitely wanted the movie to err on too little debate than too much (and bog it down) but there were times I wish some characters talked more about their views.

      Anyway, in the ongoing drinking game, notice there's also a kick-butt woman with a staff in the new Star Trek movie?

      Like... every kick butt woman is becoming clone of the others. Not in the vague, general sense, but a literal one! WTF??


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