Weekly Review: Captain America Civil War (2016)

Amid mounting pressure on the Avengers over the collateral damage that surrounds their service, the members are forced to choose between continuing as private vigilantes or with government oversight.

Captain America: Civil War picks up where The Avengers: Age of Ultron left off. As with the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), there tends to be a bit of description necessary to fully understand what is going on in a particular film. In the case of Civil War, the world is still reeling from the destruction in Sokovia during Age of Ultron, and this leads to one of the biggest issues in Civil War: the Sokovia Accords.

Marvel has done a large amount of marketing for Captain America: Civil War, encouraging fans to choose a side. #TeamCaptainAmerica or #TeamIronMan. This division among the Avengers begins with the Sokovia Accords, but continues to spiral out of control as the movie progresses.

Within the film, Iron Man/Tony Stark is in favor of the Avengers having government oversight with the Sokovia Accords. He feels that if they continue their work with no supervision, the body count will continue to rise, and he feels ridden with guilt over how his actions have affected others. Captain America/Steve Rogers is against the Sokovia Accords because he feels that with government oversight, the Avengers will always be working for a government agenda rather than being where they need to be.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 1.17.19 AM

This is a completely understandable conflict, and would make for a compelling film, full of grey area where nothing is completely right or wrong. It would have provided the Avengers with the opportunity to open the conversation of their vigilantism to the world and compromise. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an Avengers film. It was a Captain America film, so none of this really happened.

Instead, the film seems to brush aside the Sokovia Accords, using them simply to split the team apart. The majority of the movie surrounds the issue of Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier. Similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap finds himself obligated once again to help his friend Bucky come hell or high water. While this struggle was endearing in The Winter Soldier, it didn’t sit well with me in Civil War. It felt contradictory to me that Captain America would be against government oversight because of hidden agendas when he had an agenda of his own.

With the Avengers split into two separate sides, there are plenty of moments in the film that didn’t sit well with me. It was weird for me to see some of these fight scenes between Avengers that were friends, especially when they were going for kill shots rather than shots meant to disable or stun. At one point Black Widow and Hawk Eye, who have been incredibly close through all the films in the MCU, throw punches at each other while on different sides. It really disconnected me.

In terms of film production, I had some issues with that as well. Some of the camera work seemed really haphazard in this movie. I was shocked. There are also these ghastly titles that come up throughout the film to tell the audience where something is taking place (“BUCHAREST” it says in bold, white capital letters that take up the entire screen). It felt far too in-your-face for my liking.

As of this point, I’ve given a lot of negatives about Captain America: Civil War. I do have positives. There were several things that I liked.

Tom Holland makes his debut as Spiderman in Civil War. He completely surprised me. I was really worried about this new Spiderman, but I actually think it works out really well. Holland really gets to play up the fact that Spiderman is a kid. When he’s in the suit, dropping the one liners, it’s great.

Civil War also introduces Black Panther to the MCU. This character is portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, and I thought he was fantastic. Black Panther has one of the more compelling storylines of Civil War. While everything else is cut-and-dry, black and white, Black Panther provides the most of the grey area that I was looking for. His story is one of revenge and justice, and I felt that he had the only real story arc in the entire film. Plus, his Black Panther moves were phenomenal. I loved all those cat-like reflexes. I can’t wait for the Black Panther film to be released.

I mentioned earlier that films in the MCU tend to require description to be understood. One of the things that I really liked about Civil War was that they introduced two characters into the film without supplying any backstory. Audiences aren’t forced to see another spider bite and watch Uncle Ben die again. Black Panther is brought into the story with no explanation necessary, and everyone just goes with it. I thought it was expertly crafted. It takes a good writer to bring this type of ensemble cast together and make it work like Civil War does.

There are plenty more films set to be released on the Marvel schedule, but I’m thinking we won’t see much resolution in the problems from Civil War for quite some time. While there are some solo films coming out, there won’t be another Avengers film until 2018.

So far, the response to Captain America: Civil War has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ll be honest when I say that I’m a bit too cynical to really be a fan of Captain America. Perhaps that’s why there are so many things within Civil War that don’t click with me. If you’re a fan of the Marvel films that have been released thus far, you probably won’t be disappointed by this one either.

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