tobacco Knights presents
Installment 13: Captain America: Civil War
2016 Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Well there it is. The big anticipated clash of the titanic Marvel forces. A tumult that has been brewing since the first Avengers film juxtaposed Tony Stark’s condescending quit-wit against Steve Rogers’ no-nonsense Good Samaritan virtue, and a film we’ve eagerly awaited ever since Marvel announced that the Civil War story line would be the basis for the next Captain America venture.
And for the most part, it has lived up to the hype. A pretty tall order, considering the months-long build up and the release coming on the heels of the ill-received Batman vs Superman, which had a similar hero-against-hero theme. Maybe I’m biased, because I’m a big Cap and Bucky fan, but this by far surpassed not only BvS, but all of the MCU films since Winter Soldier, except for maybe Guardians.
First, there’s Bucky. He’s become one of my favorite characters, mainly due to his complex back story with Cap and his eventual involvement with Hydra. I’ve also really come to like Sebastian Stan a lot. He makes a good tall-dark-and-handsome alpha-male friend of Steve in the early days without making you hate him for those very same attributes. He also makes an awesome take-no-prisoners merciless assassin of the future that looks awesome with a metal arm and hair in his face, making you love him for those very same attributes. The fact that his character arc seems still a bit unresolved at the end of the movie made it only better.
Second, there was Daniel Bruhl. While I was a little unsatisfied overall with his character’s motivations and resolve, Bruhl played the part of Zemo impeccably. There’s something about his facial expressions that see-saw back and forth between devilish sneer and endearing grin that keep you on edge whenever he is on screen. He brilliantly pulled off this same maneuver in Inglorious Basterds years ago, and this certainly has a hangover effect on me here (which is just fine, by the way).
I suppose I liked the whole Spider-Man extended cameo bit. Definitely more so than any previous manifestations by McGuire & co. Admittedly, this may be enhanced by “movie-goer peer pressure”, as I was sure to be informed by those seasoned MCU attendees in the theater that this was “awesome”. A little forced (and yes I’ve heard all the politics why), but yeah. It was awesome. I’ll see the inevitable movie.
I also liked Ant-Man, Falcon, and Black Panther being added to the mix. Unlike the “cameos” in BvS, I didn’t feel like these were mere seeds planted for future franchise spin-offs, but were integral parts of a pretty good story.
Having said that, I won’t waste your time on the Civil War – BvS comparisons, since that’s already been done at length by those more qualified than me, only to say that Cap wins, by doing things right.
There were things to not like about this film, to be sure, but surprisingly for once, one of those things was not Tony Stark. I didn’t expect that to happen. Ever since the end credits of the first Iron Man he’s kinda gone downhill for me, past the point of annoying to completely unlikable on the screen. I figured I would just have to endure it until Robert Downey Jr’s contract expired, but his irritating irrational way of sarcastically rationalizing everything made so much sense to the plot that it actually didn’t bother me. In fact it was needed to give believable motivation to Cap & co. to go against him. I mean, I’ve wanted to kick his ass for the last four films and now Cap & Bucky get to do it, with vindication.
Lastly, some of the plot resolve at the end had my head spinning a little bit, if not shaking. I had to talk myself into the notion that it was actually an awesome plot twist that the five incubating Winter Soldiers were mere decoys, and disposed of by Zemo himself instead of being activated for some penultimate screen-sizzling battle. And maybe I just need to see it again, but I wasn’t completely sure where everyone stands with everyone else. Yeah there was a sort of truce, then Cap sort of won the final brawl with Stark, and then let everyone out of prison. The final voice-over lets us know he’s given Stark a sort of calling card for when the shit inevitably hits the fan again, and we see that Cap & co. have gone to hole up with Black Panther. Maybe I just answered my own questions, but…. Are they still fighting?
I guess it’s like any civil war. Circumstances manifest into crises. Sides are chosen. Battles are fought. Righteousness is awarded to those who prevail. Reconciliation is forced on those who do not. And the questions of resolve never cease to be asked or answered.