I saw Captain America: Civil War last weekend, but to be honest I’ve had to spend several days gathering my thoughts on it before I could be happy with this blog. Because I get the feeling I’m missing something about the movie given the almost overwhelming love for the movie I’ve seen coming from elsewhere.
Okay, let me try to explain. And as I do so be warned this is full of spoilers.
First, is this even a Captain America movie? No, not for me it isn’t. Not that I’m saying it’s a third Avengers movie either you undertand. No, this is more Captain America and Iron Man. It could quite easily have been Iron Man 4. The only reason for making it Captain America 3 is that it’s his friend they’re chasing and not Tony Stark’s. So as far as I’m concerned, this is not a standalone Captain America movie. You can claim that all you want, but it didn’t work that way. There’s too much focus on Iron Man for that to be the case.
The others in the movie, yeah, fair enough, they’re extras rather than being main characters. That’s the same as it was with the Winter Soldier really. But Iron Man is just too central to this storyline, and he’s the one that goes on the journey through the movie – not Steve Rogers.
Not that Tony Stark’s journey made much sense for the most part.
I really don’t understand why he is just accepting that Captain America has gone off on one? I don’t believe he’d just accept the idea that Bucky was the bad guy and not framed. It should have taken him five seconds to listen to what Steve had to say and then he’d have sided with him. The whole storyline about Tony wanting the Avengers to have oversight is fine, but it doesn’t at any point address the idea that Tony would accept those people having the oversight are trustworthy. They’ve done nothing to earn it, especially in the post SHIELD are Hydra era.
But more than that, the whole main thrust of the civil war is utterly needless.
If the whole point was to get Captain America and Iron Man to fall out and kill each other, then we didn’t need them going to war and involving all the other characters to do it. That whole plot is needless, because ultimately they still get back together in Siberia. It’s there that the revelation comes out about Bucky having killed Tony’s parents, and that revelation coupled with Steve knowing the truth about it would make them fall out in the end anyway.
Which was the whole point. There’s your real civil war, and the best part of the movie by a mile, never mind the other three quarters of the movie.
You can throw most of this movie in the bin and it makes almost no difference to how the plot goes. They’re all conflicted and so some retire and some sign the accords. Fair enough, I can understand that aspect. In fact it’s probably the strongest part of the whole story. I can even understand both sides of it as well, so there’s no way I’m picking a side at this point. Which only feeds back into my refusal to say I was Team Captain America or Team Iron Man from the trailers. I knew there had to be more to it and so there was.
Having oversight makes a lot of sense. After all, you don’t want a bunch of vigilantes and you need consequences for when things go wrong as they have been in recent movies. But equally it also makes sense to be wary of that oversight given what happened with Hydra within SHIELD. Prior to Winter Soldier, SHIELD was the oversight for the Avengers. So what the accords are basically doing is putting that back in place.
If this aspect have been allowed to build over time then I could see how the friction might come from this… but it doesn’t get the chance to do that because things escalate too quickly. It’s far more believable for Captain America and Iron Man to be disagreeing about Tony wanting to protect the world from all the scary stuff that’s out there and going too far to do that.
You know, like in Age of Ultron?
But here we get a whole new story. Suddenly it’s Tony who wants brought under control and Steve who thinks there’s too much hand tying. If anything this is a role reversal of their positions in Age of Ultron. Suddenly Tony wants the Avengers restrained and Steve wants freedom to do anything and everything to protect people.
But then the story runs away from that aspect as Bucky gets framed and the world wants to get him. Except Captain America of course who wants to save his friend and convinces some others that he’s been framed. Not that there’s any logic as to who picks which side of course. It seems to me that it’s a coin toss at times, roughly along the divide over the accords but it’s not even consistent about that as others get roped in. And as I said earlier, even Iron Man makes no sense just to accept that Bucky needs brought to justice.
The civil war doesn’t happen because of a difference in opinion around the accords, it happens because some people believe Bucky is framed and some people don’t. And to get to that point, you have to accept the idea that Captain America is driven purely by the need to save his friend and not do what’s best for the world. I’m guessing those who believe that didn’t see the Winter Soldier? And have also ignored why he doesn’t want to sign the accords in the first place?
It seemed to me that the whole civil war in this movie was put in place purely to throw half of them in jail and ultimately send them underground. But lets face it, rebelling against the accords to help the framed Bucky could have sent them underground just as much as anything else. What we got here was Iron Man throwing half the Avengers under the bus, albeit inadvertently.
On top of that, I think a few of the characters were a waste. Vision was an utter joke. After establishing how powerful he is in Age of Ultron, they’ve cut the feet from under him and made him a comedy figure instead. Dressing him up in a shirt and jumper and making him cook, yeah, great, you could have got Ant Man in longer to be the comedy relief. Spiderman was a really nice addition, but again you would have to think you could throw his character away and not lose too much from the overall movie. He felt a little tacked on as an afterthought sadly.
And yes, most of them were like that – but you’ve gone out of your way to get Spiderman into the universe. That will work better later on when he gets a standalone and this is seen as his intro that lets us skip the origin aspect entirely. I think it might be worth revisiting this introduction when we have more of Spiderman and then I’ll probably appreciate it more. If this movie did one thing, it’s made me look forward to Spiderman Homecoming a lot more than I thought I would, so full credit to them for that.
I also loved Black Panther. I thought he was a great addition and that’s another standalone movie I’m now looking forward to seeing. Here though he’s probably the one character in the movie that they added and he added to the movie. The main plot would lose something without him, as he’s a good comparison for Iron Man when it comes to revenge.
Scarlet Witch was good as well, and if anyone in this movie showed the difficulty with dealing with the consequences of their actions then it was her. But then why on Earth is she on Captain America’s side? Because Tony locked her up? Okay, I understand why that would be frustrating, but surely she’d just clear off and go into hiding instead of following Hawkeye? Actually, come to think of it, you’ve just spent half the movie thinking you need to be controlled for your own good and for the good of everyone else, but the minute you realise you are controlled you switch sides?
And then there’s the utterly needless Sharon Carter. Oh come on! I can’t have Peggy so I’ll have her niece, that’s ALL that is. There’s no reason Captain America would hook up with her, there’s no chemistry with them and it just gets thrown in here. The best bit of her whole story arc was the truth about who she really was from Winter Soldier coming out at the funeral.
Okay, so I might be slightly disappointed they’ve killed Peggy off. It’s not like we didn’t know that was coming though. Maybe watching this movie the same week they cancelled Agent Carter was a bad idea from that perspective!
Here’s the thing though. So many of these criticism, in isolation, actually work well. They just don’t seem to blend into the movie properly. The fight at the airport is brilliant, I loved it, it just isn’t necessary for the story. Spiderman is a really well done character and I’m looking forward to seeing him expanded in Homecoming, but he still feels tacked on to this. The conversations between Vision and Scarlet Witch – despite his comedy value – are truly wonderful and insightful, but they are then completely undone when she fires him through the floor and he later shoots down Brodie in friendly fire because he’s distracted by her.
What, does he have a computer virus or something?! Geez I hated the Vision in this movie. PLEASE make him better in Infinity War, we know he must be important in it!
So what about the bad guy? Zemo? He’s rubbish, right? Well… he is what he needs to be. He’s had his family ripped away from him by the actions, or possibly inactions, of the Avengers in Age of Ultron. I don’t agree with what he’s doing, but you can understand why he’s doing it. Yes, he’s not actually doing all that much. If anything, he does us all a favour by killing the super soldiers so he’s not even that bad a bad guy! He does just enough to push the civil war over the edge. So I’ll tip my hat to the writers for not going overboard with the bad guy, it would have taken away from the central plot if they had.
However, why does he do anything to split them in the first place? All he wants to do is get Captain America and Iron Man and the Winter Soldier to Siberia. That’s his goal, right? Those three need to be there for the climactic scene. So if that’s the case, the civil war at the airport completely deflects away from that! Splitting them makes it less likely that Iron Man will be there, and he needs to be there or the whole plan fails.
As I’ve already said, you don’t need to set up friction between the two characters in this movie, because we’ve seen the friction when Tony created Ultron. In fact, we saw friction between them in the first Avengers movie as well, so we know it’s there. We don’t need an airport fight to show it.
So as far as I can see, Captain America: Civil War is a movie that comprises of some really terrific bits and pieces that are cobbled together into a flimsy plot that makes little sense in an effort to get to a brilliant ending and also to ensure that other pieces are in play for future movies.
Sorry Marvel, but as far as I can see you’ve fallen into the third superhero movie trap that so many others before you have done as well. I enjoyed the movie as I watched it, I loved certain parts of it, but it just doesn’t work for me and so the movie doesn’t even come close to the other two Captain America movies. Granted those were a high bar to try and reach, but you’ve left me somewhat disappointed by a movie I was really looking forward to seeing.
A real shame.