#Pick #A #Side–Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain America: Civil War is a thematically confused mess of a movie.

Ok, maybe that was coming off a bit harsh. As many gripes as I had with the movie, the things it did well were enjoyable. Newcomers Spider-Man and Black Panther felt comfortably familiar to the series and were able to be of oddly large amount of use to the movie’s plot. The big superhero fight the title alludes to was stupid yet gratifying to watch (seeing Spider-Man piggyback off War Machine was just one of its many highlights). And on the whole it made me excited for the future of Marvel’s movies rather than anxious over the burnout that you’d expect come thirteen of these movies over the course of 8 years.

That said, there was plenty wrong with Civil War, too.

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The main focus of conflict this time around doesn’t come in the form of a big baddie, but in the form of a stack of papers. The Sokovia Accords act as a means to better regulate The Avengers, allowing the United Nations to control them as they see fit, and provide a proper face to blame in the case that missions go south. Now in the case of most vigilante superheroes, public outcry over collateral damage doesn’t feel all that justified mainly because the hero themself is small-time enough to not take the full brunt of the blame. In the case of The Avengers, however, they’re not only a public figure, but an incredibly large public figure pitted with its own building of operations as well as clear country allegiance (as if the “A” stamped on Captain America’s forehead wasn’t enough of an indicator). And while S.H.I.E.L.D. is no longer a thing come this point in the movie’s timeline, the heroes themselves are still high-profile enough to warrant needing to take responsibility for their own screwups.

That said, motivations for every hero’s either going along with or against the accords aren’t exactly that well fleshed out. While there are a handful of instances building up both Tony Stark/Iron Man’s stance for and Steve Roger/Captain America’s stance against the accords, both sides’ motivations felt lukewarm at best, with the bulk of their reasoning being left in previous Marvel movies—the past Iron Man movies and Age of Ultron establishing Tony’s concern with letting power go unchecked, and Winter Soldier cementing Steve’s distrust in big organizations. Yes, both of their actions still make sense, but when you need to have done your homework via watching older movies (plural) to do so, it suddenly becomes cumbersome. Can you justify that using multiple movies to build up character rationale is genius and the point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the first place? Maybe, but if a single movie can’t be enjoyed by itself, then that defeats the purpose of movies in the first place.

As the movie continues and ideals begin to clash, it’s clear that you as the viewer are supposed to pick up that there are moral grays when it comes to any kind of clash where distinct sides are forced to butt heads with each other. But that moral gray is never fully explored in the slightest, with scenes either applauding Captain America and his otherwise terrorist-levels of government paranoia or applauding Iron Man and his blind government loyalty. The sole mitigating factor in all this is Black Panther, who while he doesn’t verbally form any opinion on the accords, is SPOILERS still able to capture the crappy underdeveloped villain as a non-verbal way of saying “you white people and your senseless lover’s spats are getting you nowhere.”/SPOILERS If anything, seeing him in action has made me highly anticipate his movie even though I know next to nothing about the character outside of Civil War.

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With all the hubbub made over the accords both in and out of the movie (the “Whose side are you on?” campaign actually becoming semi-relevant in my twitter feed is like being witness to a never-ending commercial for the movie), it’s incredibly awkward to find that the movie takes a sudden shift from them to mere boyfriend drama in the form of Bucky aka The Winter Soldier. Bucky’s presence was never downplayed in the first half of Civil War (the movie begins with a flashback featuring him), so to say his appearance is sudden would be misleading, but there is a noticeable shift in the plot once he arrives at Avengers HQ around the halfway point of the movie. What was initially a movie concerning the rights of superheroes and the responsibility they have over the public’s safety becomes a movie about conspiracy and lies featuring a villain that’s neither interesting nor well-developed—essentially a far inferior version of the Captain America’s first sequel Winter Soldier.

And while the plot featuring Captain America trying to clear his friend’s name and the plot having him disagree with Iron Man over the accords have some overlap, it’s never enough to make for a seamless meshing of the two, ultimately making the accords feel like an unnecessary and roundabout means to justify an admittedly cool but mindless fight between all the superheroes at an evacuated airport—a big misunderstanding that could have easily been resolved if any one of the heroes stopped to explain their point of view (think the scene in the first Avengers movie where Thor, Cap, and Iron Man fight, except exceptionally longer). All the drama concerning Bucky could be easily avoided had Captain America just avoid him altogether, but alas, the bromance must remain intact. You know how in ‘80s action movies how the protagonist could easily stop the bad guys if he made a point to just leave the damsel in distress alone? The damsel in this case is Bucky. SPOILERSAnd considering where Bucky ends up come the movie’s end and the keywords used to turn him into a killing machine, I fear his drama will end up pouring into the Black Panther and Spider-Man movies as well./SPOILERS

The Marvel Cinematic Universe made leaps and bounds in getting the general public to look at their superheroes in a different light other than just costumed people punching each other. And while Civil War’s subtext can be ripped apart and micro-analyzed to hell (Cap’s good intentions but lack of responsibility when things go south was an allegory for America, much?), the movie itself doesn’t offer much to think about. And if the subtitle was anything other than Civil War it would have an excuse for doing such. As it stands though, I offer these options for an alternate title to refer to Civil War by:

  • Captain America: Boyfriend Drama
  • Captain America: Spider-Man Reboot 26,558
  • Captain America: The Black Panther Prequel
  • Captain America: The Avengers 3

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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