Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

Let’s get this out up front: I don’t care for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I don’t like the MCU birthed onslaught of the worse mouth breathing, talking-during-the-entire-run-of-the-movie fan boys (and girls) that make watching these movies such a chore. I wish the movies in the MCU could stand on their own. I would really like to be able to get up and exit the theater after the movie without stepping on those same mouth breathers who are glued to their seats in sweaty anticipation of a couple of post-credits scenes that “set up” other MCU bullshit.

That being said, I like the Captain America movies, and am quite fond of Iron Man 1 and 3. I think of all the MCU nonsense those movies stand better on their own than the rest. I made the mistake of reading reviews that asserted that knowing what happened in Avengers: Age of Ultron would go a long way in enjoying what happens in Civil War. Of course, they were wrong, I should’ve boned up by re-watching Winter Solider. And we wonder why no one listens to critics anymore?

Sure, Civil War takes place about a year after the events of Age of Ultron, but the only continuing action from that film is the destruction of Sokovia having dire implications to how the world views the actions of the Avengers. Coupled with a bunch of other cataclysmic events both seen and unseen, it is decided to reign the Avengers in. Iron Man/Tony Stark thinks this is a good idea Captain America doesn’t…CIVIL WAR!!!!

To keep with this faux Avengers sequel notion, I’d like to note that I’m glad the Russo brothers are helming the next Avengers movies. While I respect the effort Joss Whedon went through in helming the previous Avengers movies, he just doesn’t do the superhero movie justice like the Russo brothers have shown with their Captain America movies.
Ostensibly, Civil War is a mini-Avengers movie set up inside of a Captain America vehicle and the Russo brothers are seemingly dealing with a veritable boatload of characters to service. The previous Avengers movies would always grind to a halt in order to deal with characters and the various underlying issues/plots. Did we really need that protracted Hawkeye’s family bullshit in Age of Ultron? The Hulk and Black Widow nonsense…and on and on. Civil War includes tiny characters moments, especially furthering the Vision/Scarlet Witch romantic subplot…but it doesn’t bog down the film. In fact, a lot of elements that would’ve ground down lesser comic book movies, are more the aperitif of the film instead of a monstrous side dish of distraction.

Unlike Whedon, the Russo brothers are experts in staging fight sequences with too many characters and making it work. The problem I had with both the first Avengers movies and Age of Ultron was that the fight scenes were either too busy, or  more often felt like a calculated “What is Character X up to…let’s see!” checklist, instead of feeling organic and fluid as it does in Civil War. It could be argued that perhaps the vaunted Marvel Studios malfeasance was to blame in that, but one could also argue that Civil War was met with a similar stick and turned out a better product for it.

After watching Civil War, I’m more prone to fancy the idea that Marvel just starts utilizing a cadre of directors for their films. This committee of directors would “direct” all the MCU movies and they would be much better “products” for it. Even though his action direction is a bit sub par, Whedon does play the smaller more “comic book” elements of the movies better than others do. Get James Gunn to round out all the films in that odd, fantastical element that resides in the comic books as well. Since the fear of any of these movies failing is becoming farcical at this point, why not?

They’re already doing something in Civil War I’ve long been asking for: dispensing with the character origins. They introduce Spider-Man to the MCU; they cover what he’s all about in a little less than ten minutes. They introduce Marisa Tomei as the new Aunt May and throw him in to the mix. This same economy of plot is given to introducing Black Panther, I’m sure they’ll go a bit more in depth with these two characters in their respective movies, but Civil War itself gives these characters just enough motivation to pick a “side” in the conflict, but not grind the film to a halt in doing so.

Contrary to many critics, Civil War is indeed a Captain America sequel. On top of this, it goes a bit farther in filling in the gaps in the past with both Cap and Iron Man with the respective Winter Soldier tying the two together in even further Civil War-ing in the revelation that he killed Stark’s parents.
If this was indeed an “Avengers-lite” sequel as we are led to believe, I think we would’ve gotten a bit more of Iron Man’s motivations and thoughts to the proceedings, but we are not outside of a broad stroke “Tony Stark feels bad because a woman was all ‘You guys killed my boy!’ to him one time.”.

Speaking of Tony Stark feelings, a lot of praise has been heaped on Robert Downey Jr’s performance in this movie, as if he wasn’t the entire catalyst to the MCU having any respectability?! Being a good actor was the entire point of having him in Iron Man, and thus lending the notion that these Marvel comic book movies were going to be different from past comic book movies. That Marvel Studios was going to do the work in making this MCU thing something great. They have used a philosophy to great success. It’s why these Marvel movies have attracted such a wide variety of mouth breathers to their gates, it simply cannot be ignored.
All that being said, Downey Jr’s acting is the least important thing in the entire movie. That’s MY biggest problem with all these MCU movies: they’re fine. There’s nothing so great about them, they’re filmed competently, acted competently, but they don’t take risks. Say what you will about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but at least Zack Snyder tried something with the DC characters. It’s biggest problem, critically speaking, was that it wasn’t like the MCU movies or some shit. And to me it was readily apparent critics were just waiting to shit on that movie, regardless of quality.  Parlaying their general feelings of comic book movie fatigue on to a perceived “lesser” movie, moviegoers be damned!

Captain America: Civil War is a good movie and a great way to kick off the summer movie blockbuster season. We can only wait and see if the next Marvel property based movie Dr. Strange can keep the whole MCU ship upright.

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

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