Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is downright amazing. It’s scary-good. It’s so good that it makes one wonder if Joe and Anthony Russo cut some sort of weird deal with Mephisto to make it happen. The script is so tight and the direction is so proficient that employers should ask questions about it during job interviews — any candidate who says Civil War is a rotten film should be told to have a nice day and shown the door due to their unfortunate lack of good judgment (I’m kidding … sort of).

For those who have been living in an underground bunker for the last year, Civil War involves the disintegration of the Avengers when the international community demands regulations governing the actions of super-humans. The United Nations has had enough with civilian casualties and diplomatic headaches linked to free-wheeling superheroes, and Tony Stark agrees. Steve Rogers decides the world is safest if he and his allies are only beholden to their own consciouses, and the disagreement puts everyone on a collision course.

Since this is a spoiler-free review, I will concentrate on what the Russo brothers professionally accomplished and only talk in broad brushstrokes about the of the film.

Imagine you’re the Russo brothers.

Now imagine Kevin Feige gives you $250 million and tells you to find a way to utilize Captain America, Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man, Spider-Man, Crossbones, and Zemo. You need to make sure the script is tight, juggle all the weirdness that actors bring with them to the set, navigate countless professional mine fields, and then somehow deliver a product that can impress a fanbase that has been spoiled with excellence since 2008’s Iron Man.

The verdict is in: Captain America: Winter Soldier was not a fluke. These guys not only met expectations given an almost impossible task — they exceeded expectations. Civil War is a modern superhero classic and should be used as the gold standard by which future installments are judged. One almost feels bad for the pressure their own greatness has created as production on Avengers: Infinity War – Parts I and II begins.

Regular readers of this blog know I am a stickler for superhero stories that work on multiple levels. If some child (or an adult) just wants to see Spider-Man swing across the screen and come to blows with other superheroes, then he or she will exit the theater with a smile. If intellectually curious individuals want their superhero flicks to be much more than “popcorn fare,” they too will be happy after the end credits roll.

Civil War has gravity, but it also has lighthearted humor. There is plenty of action, but the blows actually mean something because the script took the time to adequately address every character’s motivations. As an added bonus, the world will now get to see cinematic killjoys attempt to nitpick the film into oblivion (e.g., Well, the score wasn’t all that great and it was a bit too long.)

“Compromise where you can, but where you can’t — don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No. You move,'” S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carton (Emily VanCamp) says at one point of advice her aunt once gave her.

After watching Civil War, it is obvious that the Russo brothers had a vision and refused to compromise on all the issues that mattered.

If you are a fan of superhero movies, then you owe it to the creative team that put Civil War together to see it before it leaves theaters.  When you are old and grey you will watch it again and say, “Those were the good old days.”

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

26 comments

  1. Spot on. Saw it twice and it was AMAZING. I want to go see it two more times, contrast to my disappointment with Star Wars and BVS, this really re-engergized the blockbuster side of films for me personally 😀

    1. “Spot on. Saw it twice and it was AMAZING. I want to go see it two more times, contrast to my disappointment with Star Wars and BVS, this really re-engergized the blockbuster side of films for me personally😀”

      Civil War succeeded on every level that Batman v Superman failed. That’s not me being anti-DC — that’s just the truth.

  2. This is the second Marvel film I’ve seen three times this year (Deadpool being the other, even if that was FOX), so far so good. It also did what the original comic book failed to do and made me feel sympathy and empathy with Tony’s side of the issue, which served me well once we reached the final act. It’s a shame so much of the trailers and tv spots kind of assemble the jigsaw puzzle together for you when you watch the film and you start ‘sensing’ where each piece fits, but it does not hamper the journey getting there or how you figure all of that out on your own.

    Apparently The Russos are changing the titles of Infinity Wars because each instalment will have more of a sense of completion in each, which is interesting. We’ll see how that goes.

    1. “It also did what the original comic book failed to do and made me feel sympathy and empathy with Tony’s side of the issue, which served me well once we reached the final act.”

      It was very important for the Russo brothers to make sure Tony’s side wasn’t given the shaft. Anyone who watches Captain America: Civil War and then reads the original storyline will now see just how horribly the comics division handled the project.

      Side note: I loved that scene with a young Robert Downey Jr. That was amazing! Pretty soon we could have movies featuring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. The technology will be good enough that you won’t be able to tell the real actors from the CGI.

    2. “made me feel sympathy and empathy with Tony’s side of the issue”

      Comparing the “movie Tony” with the “Comic Tony” is a low bar to get over.

      Comic Tony’s point on Civil war was this: he took out a small box, opened it, took out the Hitler mustache and put that on. They had to completely reboot the entire Stark character to get it working again.

      There are moments in any media that sell or unsell a franchise for me. Comic Civil War unsold me when Maria Hill gleefully yelled to shoot Captain America with tranquilizers because he didn’t obey a law that wasn’t even in effect.

      This movie sold itself to me when Iron Man actually gave a crap he almost got a certain character hurt or killed.

    3. “Comic Tony’s point on Civil war was this: he took out a small box, opened it, took out the Hitler mustache and put that on. They had to completely reboot the entire Stark character to get it working again.”

      That was about the time I took a long hiatus from Marvel comics. The way they portrayed Stark was pathetic.

  3. For me, Spider-Man stole the show. It was great to see the character done so well, and I am eagerly anticipating his upcoming solo movie. Tom Holland is to be commended for his work.

    I’ll have to see this again to know if I like it more than Winter Soldier, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the Russo brothers are a force to be reckoned with. Glad to know that the next two Avengers movies are in their hands.

    1. “Tom Holland is to be commended for his work.”

      Agreed! 🙂

      I’m finally looking forward to a Spider-Man movie again. It’s been a long time…

  4. Just got out of he theater, and there was a lot to process with this movie. Surprisingly, it never got too muddled.

    I also like how it merely uses the 2006 Civil War comic story as a launchpad. By the end, it’s a far more personal struggle for both Steve and Tony.

    I wish in a way that Spider-Man had had his own feature film before this, but what’s done is done. Overall, I liked the portrayal, and the wall-crawler has never looked or moved better on camera.

    So, this movie was a success on a lot of levels. I only hope Marvel can keep the movie momentum going, and it looks like they will.

    1. “I wish in a way that Spider-Man had had his own feature film before this, but what’s done is done. Overall, I liked the portrayal, and the wall-crawler has never looked or moved better on camera.”

      If Sony gives Marvel Studios a hard time in the future as it pertains to their “sharing” deal, I hope someone just prints out endless streams of comments like yours. On some level it’s rather hilarious that as soon as Marvel gets its hands on the character again it shows the world what the right script with the right director(s) can do with him.

  5. Civil War is indisputibly the best MCU film so far. The Russo brothers certainly handled it far better than the original story yet maintained the spirit of the original that was buried under the politics of Marvel staff at the time the philosophical conflict between Team Iron Man’s results oriented Utilarianism and Team Cap’s principle driven Deontology the two pov’s were best encapsulated in Vision’s “For the collective good… (can’t quite remember)” and Black Panther’s (though he was on Iron Man’s side) “two people in a room can get more done than a hundred.”

    Though I didn’t at all mind Spider-Man being on Iron Man’s side just like in the first half of the comics it really irked me how Tony manipulated his sense of responsibility given that when Steve’s stated reservations with the accords runs far closer to Peter’s mantra.

    1. “Though I didn’t at all mind Spider-Man being on Iron Man’s side just like in the first half of the comics it really irked me how Tony manipulated his sense of responsibility given that when Steve’s stated reservations with the accords runs far closer to Peter’s mantra.”

      It’s been reported that Robert Downey Jr. is going to appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming. My guess is that Peter and Tony won’t see eye to eye on this issue for much longer.

  6. Finally saw it. SPOILERS

    The best Avengers movie that has been made, and this is an Avengers movie, not a Captain America movie, though it resolves The Cap movie subplots.

    This is ‘Civil War’ the way it cannot be done at marvel comics anymore. They are completely incapable of resolving understandable differences between superheroes without picking sides, injecting their own biases and worst of all, completely ruining a character in order to serve the way they hope to end a story.

    I’ll only talk about the philosophy in the movie, I think the love for Black Panther, Spider-Man and the incredible action sequences speak for themselves.

    There’s a hard line that the Russo Brother’s refuse to cross in this movie. As in the quote from Sharon, they plant themselves in the floor and refuse to do what would be ‘easy’ while still making a hefty paycheck. They absolutely refuse to dishonor Tony or Steve to serve the plot. Even when Tony loses it, I can literally feel his pain, and I admit…I wanted him to win in the end there, even though I ‘m firmly on Steve’s side. You can feel his pain, wasn’t he Cap’s friend too, haven’t they fought together, nearly died together? but Cap can lie to him and risk his life for the man that murdered Tony’s parents? Would Cap do the same thing for Tony? The fact that he knew answers the question. That this philosophical question about freedom, turns into a personal one about friendship and sacrifice makes the film for me. That both characters come out flawed and still amazing is a testament to how much the directors cared about the characters. It’s a far cry from the garbage I see on the comics. I could really identify with Tony here.

    When I can fit comfortably into every major character’s shoes, it makes for a special movie. I know I would have decided like Cap (we also know that a great many of these team cap guys will happily vote for more government oversight over pretty much everyone else…and they wouldn’t even get the irony.). Like Cap I would risk everything to save a friend, and not just because it was ‘right’ but because of that friendship, that’s who Cap is. Then you have Zemo, who some people thought uninteresting…no, he was great. I love the concept and what they did with him…this is an ordinary man, enveloped by vengeance, and what would any of us do in his shoes if we lost our way? If we had to deal with people that by their sheer power cannot be brought to answer, cannot be brought to justice? Somehow he does. He goes from a seemingly typical international villain with an agenda to a sad and understandable individual, who has lost the truly most important things in life…compared to his loss, Steve and Tony’s seems trifling. If theres a flaw, it’s that he refuses to acknowledge the real cause of his family’s death…but grief isn’t always reasonable and Zemo never was. (thunderbolts movie?!? hehe)

    Great movie…and these guys are doing Infinity war?! looking good for superhero movies so far. Even with all the storm cloud predictions.

    1. “There’s a hard line that the Russo Brother’s refuse to cross in this movie. As in the quote from Sharon, they plant themselves in the floor and refuse to do what would be ‘easy’ while still making a hefty paycheck. They absolutely refuse to dishonor Tony or Steve to serve the plot. Even when Tony loses it, I can literally feel his pain, and I admit…I wanted him to win in the end there, even though I ‘m firmly on Steve’s side.”

      Boom. Exactly. The Russo brothers made a movie where fans of any particular character can hold their heads high. The same can’t be said for the comic books.

      “Great movie…and these guys are doing Infinity war?! looking good for superhero movies so far. Even with all the storm cloud predictions.”

      This movie really energized me after Avengers: Age of Ultron. AoU was passable, but it just felt flat to me. It had the superhero action set pieces, but the script wasn’t nearly as tight as Civil War. Whedon has publicly said he was exhausted while making AoU, and it shows.

  7. I loved this film.

    The Russo’s managed to balance the 12 heroes, ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross and Helmut Zemo giving them all clear understandable motivation for their decisions. As well as being Avengers 2.5 it also never stopped being a Captain America movie giving the character (and Bucky) a solid storyline of their own. I plan to see it again soon.

    On the other hand Batman V Superman couldn’t give good motivations for their 4 main characters. I hope DC improves though as competition between studios can only be good.

    1. “I plan to see it again soon.”

      You’re not alone! 🙂 My wife didn’t get a chance to see it because she was working, so my guess is that I’ll see it again within the next month. I had to travel for work this weekend and almost broke down and saw it again at a mall in Virginia.

  8. I loved this movie.

    Like others said above, the movie made me feel for and understand both sides and really sympathize with Tony in a way the comic never did. Everyone’s personal arcs were so well executed that I left caring about all of them. My heart raced throughout the movie with anxiety over how they would all fair by the end of the movie.

    I really appreciated that the Russo’s took the time to outline everyone’s motivations for choosing the sides that they did, and making those choices feel organic and true to the characters as we’ve seen them thus far in the MCU.

    1. “Like others said above, the movie made me feel for and understand both sides and really sympathize with Tony in a way the comic never did.”

      I hope someone from Marvel Comics is reading comments like yours and taking notes. Maybe…someday…there will actually be an editor who takes this kind of feedback seriously. I have zero interest in Civil War II based on how bad the first one went. I picked up the issue they gave out for “Free Comic Book Day” and still haven’t read it — and it was free.

  9. I really enjoyed the movie a lot. Not only was it light years better than the comic it was based on (Tony wasn’t a straw-manned conservative), but I was glad to see the debut of a proper cinematic Spider-Man. I think Tom Holland nailed that role and I’m confident that he won’t be a whiny baby like the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man was. Don’t get me wrong, I like the first two Maguire movies, but it did seem like he spent a lot of time crying. I was also glad to see Black Panther make his debut. It’ll be interesting to see if Cap and the other Avengers show up at all in his movie, since the post-credits scene indicated he had granted them asylum in Wakanda.

    I also found this article by Salon.com to be both sad and unintentionally hilarious. The author obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about:

    http://www.salon.com/2016/05/06/captain_americas_a_douchey_libertarian_now_why_did_marvel_have_to_ruin_steve_rogers/

    1. That Salon writer contradicts herself repeatedly, which is not surprising for a self-styled “Progressive.”

      She says that Captain America has always been a liberal, “anti-racist, anti-sexist.” She praises the arc where the new Cap (Sam Wilson) protects “undocumented immigrants” (don’t dare call them “illegal aliens”) from murderous “racists.” (Because, of course, opposing illegal immigration is “racist.” Just as any disagreement with a leftist about anything is “racist.”)

      She says that Cap has always been “anti-nationalist,” and that he fought the Nazis and Hydra, who were the “ultimate nationalists.” Oh? Weren’t they seeking to create a borderless world, where one government would rule the entire planet? The kind of thing that “liberals” advocate, and that conservatives and (“douchey”) libertarians oppose?

      She says that Cap has always been for “we the people,” against government by “unaccountable tyrants.” But, today, it’s the right-wingers who advocate individual freedom, while the “liberals” demand more government regulation. After all, the world has to be run by a select elite (like Obama and Merkel), since those yokels in flyover country, “clinging to their guns and religion,” don’t know what’s good for them.

      On the one hand, Cap has always been against tyranny and autocracy. But then, OTOH, Ms. Marcotte insists that the UN demands for more control and oversight (by a cabal) are “more than reasonable.” She says that the events in “Winter Soldier” should have taught Cap a lesson about “unchecked power.” Well, maybe they did. Including the danger of giving “unchecked power” to ANY organization, whether SHIELD, the UN, or anyone else.

      Although Ms. Marcotte seems to consider herself an authority on what Captain America has “always” been, she also seems unfamiliar with the 2006 comic book mini-series/crossover event on which the movie is based. In that, Cap opposed the Superhero Registration Act and led the rebellion against it.

      Actually the movie is more balanced than its source material, trying to show the valid concerns on both sides. The comic was simplistic. “Registration bad, freedom good.” Of course, the liberals who sided with Team Cap (no restrictions on the Hulk or the X-Men) were the same people who advocate registering a single-shot .22 rifle, and who insist that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech” (“hate” being whatever the powers-that-be define it as).

      It is relevant, though, that the comic series was published during the Bush administration, when liberals were afraid that the Patriot Act would be abused, and that the administration’s political opponents would be harassed. Now that Obama is in office, surveillance and increased government “oversight” are “more than reasonable.” It’s a threat to our liberty if the FBI spies on ISIS and Al Qaeda, but it’s OK to spy on the Tea Party. A simple question of whose ox is being gored.

    2. “Of course, the liberals who sided with Team Cap (no restrictions on the Hulk or the X-Men) were the same people who advocate registering a single-shot .22 rifle, and who insist that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech” (“hate” being whatever the powers-that-be define it as).”

      That has always been one of my things with the people who sided with Cap in the comics — they’re essentially saying someone like the Hulk should have no restrictions placed upon him in the Marvel Universe, but the federal government has a legitimate interest in making Joe Snuffy jump through hoops for a handgun. If Bruce Banner has a bad day he could level half of New York City, but don’t make him register with the federal government because…freedom. Or something. Whatever you say, Cap.

      “It is relevant, though, that the comic series was published during the Bush administration, when liberals were afraid that the Patriot Act would be abused, and that the administration’s political opponents would be harassed. Now that Obama is in office, surveillance and increased government ‘oversight’ are ‘more than reasonable.’ It’s a threat to our liberty if the FBI spies on ISIS and Al Qaeda, but it’s OK to spy on the Tea Party. A simple question of whose ox is being gored.”

      That about sums it up right there. It’s like Code Pink going A.W.O.L. on their anti-war rallies, etc., once Obama was sworn in. They disappeared from site even as he became the Drone King. It’s easy not to have to worry about interrogation when your “strategy” is just to drop bombs on heads. Note to Obama: Simply killing people with drones is not a strategy.

  10. I liked the movie except for justification behind the accords to the team. Every single one of those situations would of been worse without the Avengers.I can’t imagine Superheroes in the real world and Governments not trying to subjugate them for their own gain. That being said I don’t have a problem with govermental motivation. I’m just not buying that they would get Black Widow, T’Challa, and Vision to buy in.

    I understand Tony struggles with the whole hero thing and I assume the creation of Ultron weighs heavy on his conscience, I get why he’s on board. Rhodes being career military is somewhat of company man so maybe he might bite. Black Widow has first hand experience being a tool for the political class. Vision and T’Challa should be too smart. Vision’s explanation was weak and I expected better from him after his insights to Ultron about humanity. Spidey I can see because he’s a kid and Tony Stark showed up asking for help.

    I get that they wanted to have the heroes square off and this was probably the most efficient means if not the most plausible.

  11. Apart from the Marvel movies being the best at what they do among adventure movies, the MCU is also making Marvel Comics look like sick on a stick. As the MCU moves from strength to strength, the comics division is a stagnant marsh of variant covers, incessant re-numbering, increased porn and gore elements, and hostile, ignorant ultra-liberalism.

    1. “As the MCU moves from strength to strength, the comics division is a stagnant marsh of variant covers, incessant re-numbering, increased porn and gore elements, and hostile, ignorant ultra-liberalism.”

      It’s not secret that I hate variant covers — or, rather, creators who refuse to acknowledge that variants are used to inflate sales. I’m supposed to believe that sales driven by variants are somehow a reflection of a comics’ content. Ummm, it doesn’t work that way Mr. Marvel Writer…

    1. “This movie is proof that Marvel Studio’s is far more competent than Marvel Comics is now.”

      Kevin Feige has done an incredible job overseeing the MCU. He has a very difficult task and has exceeded expectations for years. I’d definitely like to shake his hand.

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