Comic Book Movie Rewatch: Captain America: Civil War

New year, new intro to my comic book movie posts. I really enjoy movies based on comic books, whether they be blockbusters like the MCU and DCEU films, or old, cheesy films like the 90s Ninja Turtles movies. Every time I watch one (or re-watch one) I write up a post with my thoughts. I try to be spoiler free, but the older the movie, the less careful I am. This time it was the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War.

captain-america-civil-war-posterCaptain America: Civil War

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

Rotten Tomatoes critics: 90%

Rotten Tomatoes audience: 89%

My Rating: 7/10

The Captain America franchise has been an interesting one. The first movie seems separate from the rest of the universe because it’s primarily set in the 40s. The second movie started the shift away from the light and fun Marvel films and started showing that the actions of the Avengers had consequences, which almost made it like an Avengers 1.5. This entry takes it a step further. It could easily have been the 3rd Avengers rather than the 3rd Captain America.

Usually, when so many characters are involved in a movie, character development suffers. There’s just not enough screen time for everyone. I didn’t think Civil War had that problem. Sure, some characters, like Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and even Black Widow take a backseat, they still add something to the story and their characters grow throughout the course of the film. Not only did the movie manage to develop all of the previously introduced characters, it also added a few new faces. That was impressive.

As good as the character development was, the story had some real problems. There were two problems that bothered me the most. The first was the villain, Baron Zemo. Marvel really struggles to create memorable villains, and Zemo may be one of the least memorable in the franchise. He’s supposed to be a cunning manipulator, but by the end of the movie, you realize that his plan was so dependent on things out of his control that if anything, anything at all had gone differently, everything he was trying to do would have fallen apart. He didn’t really manipulate anyone, he just got lucky.

The other big problem with the story was that Steve Rogers has absolutely no valid reason for disagreeing with the accords. His best argument is basically ‘what if I don’t agree with the UN’s decision about something?’ The movie uses a quote from the original comic

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right….

When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, YOU move.”

That sounds great, and when said by someone like Captain America, it’s inspiring. The problem is that pretty much every dictator and fascist regime has used that exact same argument to justify horrendous actions. Marvel has introduced moral ambiguity into their universe, and by doing so, they’ve eliminated that quote as a legitimate argument. Tony learned this lesson in Age of Ultron. In that movie, Stark creates Ultron to protect mankind. He knows, without doubt, that he’s in the right and that it needs to be done… it didn’t work out so well. That’s why he’s so adamant that the accords are a good thing. He’s learned that accountability and oversight are necessary.

Whew, sorry about the rant.

Anyway, despite the plot issues, the movie is a lot of fun. Even though the universe is getting more serious, there’s still some great humor (albeit more subdued than in previous movies), and the battle scenes are everything you could hope for. It’s not the best installment in the MCU, but it’s a good movie and should make the following movies much more interesting.

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