Random Thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is the best Avengers movie Marvel Studios has made. That was an easy conclusion to arrive to. It’s quite possibly the best or, at the very least, one of the three best movies from the studio. After seeing the movie last night, that seemed like a reasonable opinion, but I wanted to sleep on it in order to give my movierection (a medical term) a chance to settle down. After reflecting a bit on Captain America: Civil War, I can totally understand the argument that it’s the best Marvel Studios film to date and also accept the opinion that it’s not. Let’s keep the examination going, with the RPadTV binary not-a-review of Captain America: Civil War.

[Turn on your spoiler shields!]

It’s An Avengers Movie, Not a Cap Movie (Good): Although he’s the titular character in Captain America: Civil War, this is very much an ensemble movie. Sure, Cap and Iron Man are at the forefront, but many characters get a chance to shine. Some help drive the plot forward (The Winter Soldier, Black Panther), while others are comedic scene stealers (Ant-Man, Spider-Man). Whatever the case may be, this is definitely an Avengers film…and the best one ever, at that.

Scarlet Witch Still Sucks (Bad): I’ve been high on Elizabeth Olsen for years, but was puzzled by her portrayal of the Scarlet Witch in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Once you get past her hotness, I’m not sure what she does for the movie. Speaking with a bad accent and doing funny things with her fingers doesn’t add much to the film. That said, these are very minor criticisms of Captain America: Civil War. That’s how good the movie is — you have to actively look for flaws and it’s difficult to find anything significant.

Tony Stark is a Dick (Good): Similar to his heel turn in the Civil War comics, Iron Man is pretty much a dick in the movie. His emotions are manipulated (perhaps too easily), leading to irrational thoughts and actions. I suppose your political leanings come into play on whether you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, but to me, Tony is clearly the villain in Captain America: Civil War.

Captain America Civil War
Avengers, Disassemble!

Wonderfully Diverse Comedy (Good): I loved the humor in this movie. It’s frequent and diverse, without getting in the way of a serious conflict. Ant-Man’s bits were wonderful. Spider-Man will win the hearts of millions. I even enjoyed the deadpan rapport between Falcon and Winter Soldier. For me, this is what separates Captain America: Civil War from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Many cite the latter as Marvel Studios’ best, but I prefer Civil War. I won’t argue with anyone that thinks The Winter Soldier is Better, because that’s an understandable opinion, but I’ll watch Civil War exponentially more in the future, simply because the comedy balances the drama. Also, the jokes about Marisa Tomei’s age and beauty were excellent…though I’m still not sure the world is ready for Hot Aunt May.

Lack of Anger Management (Bad): While I understand that they needed to be Cap’s antagonists, it was somewhat disappointing to see Iron Man and Black Panther suffer from ridiculous mad-ons. The former is supposed to be one of the smartest people in the world, while the latter is supposed to be one of the noblest Avengers. For most of the movie, both gave into their anger and went full Sith. Much of the conflict would have been avoided if everyone — those two in particular — calmed down and applied some rational thought to the situation. Of course, the movie would have been much shorter….

The New Guys (Good): Although he was irrationally angry for much of the film, Black Panther was pretty frickin’ cool. His fight scenes were dynamic and his costume looked great. Ant-Man (new in The Avengers movie sense) was pretty awesome on several levels. I mentioned his comedic bits before, but I love the way the movies portray his shrinking powers and it was brilliant to see him as Giant Man for a bit. Spider-Man lived up to his comic-book adjectives — amazing and spectacular. Spidey’s CG was fantastic and it was fun having an innocent character around for a heavy conflict.

You're either #TeamCap or a communist traitor
You’re either #TeamCap or a communist traitor

Second Comings (Good): Winter Soldier and Falcon have grown into their characters nicely. I’m a huge mark for the comics version of Winter Soldier and Bucky Cap. Sebastian Stan was very good in that role. Falcon, who’s pretty lame in the comics, was great in the movie. Anthony Mackie did an admirable job as the Avenger’s birdman. His new tech made him look cool and he brought a confidence to the role that makes him much more than Captain America’s token African-American friend. That said, I will always see him as Papa Doc from 8-Mile. It would have been awesome if the Civil War conflict came down to a freestyle rap battle between Falcon and Vision.

Wanton Violence (Good): In previous Avengers movies, the good guys spent most of their time beating up aliens and robots. You never really felt the weight of the violence. Seeing Captain America and Iron Man bloodied, bruised, and battered hit much closer to home. The violence was borderline shocking, especially because former friends and allies were truly taking it to each other.

Best Action Ever (Good): Marvel Studios has really upped the ante on its action sequences. Whether it’s visceral melee combat, thrilling chase scenes, or fanboy-squeal inducing super-power sequences, Captain America: Civil War has raised the bar for Marvel action. I enjoyed every bit of action in the movie and will certainly pay to see it again.

Masterful Pacing (Good): I was shocked to see that the runtime of Captain America: Civil War is 146 minutes. The directors and writers did an incredible job of weaving action and comedy into a dramatic conflict, allowing the film to move at a zippy pace. While I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that movie feels like it’s 136 minutes.

Captain America Civil War Spider-Man
Spidey-Cap?

Bottom Line: As I was leaving the movie, I said to my excellent friend Paul, “It’s hard to think of anything wrong with that movie.” While I understand that abandoning logic was necessary for the hero vs. hero conflict, the worst thing I can say about Captain America: Civil War is that Scarlet Witch’s accent and finger motions were silly. For me, it’s definitely in my top three Marvel Studios films, along with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There’s a good chance that it’ll end up being my favorite (I need to see it a few more times). Its combination of amazing action, excellent comedy, and a weighty conflict completely worked for me.

For another take on Captain America: Civil War, check out this PaulSemel.com review.

  • Paul Semel

    Now I just want to pull Cap and Iron Man aside and say, “Be excellent to each other.”

  • Tokz_21

    This was better than Age of Ultron. Waaaaaaaaaay better. I’ll agree that this was more than an avengers movie than it did a Capt America one. Definitely did enjoy spidey and black panther. Yeah i still dont see any use for wanda. I also noticed that they have abandoned calling her scarlett witch. Im going to definitely need to see this again. Number 2 Marvel movie IMO. Winter Soldier is still #1
    #teamcap #capwasright

  • Mackenzie Calhoun

    Wow. There were a lot of characters in that movie. I’ve always thought that the rule of thumb in these kind of super hero movies is to limit the amount of characters on the screen because it’s impossible for them to all get character development (X-Men).

    I think this is the greatest asset of the MCU. They can concentrate on “moving on” with the characters having them grow as a natural progression instead of having to re-tell their origin stories over and over and over again (looking at you, Spider-Man). I love that the MCU is so comfortable in their universe that they don’t feel the need to go out of their way to re-establish the characters (Batman). The point I’m trying to make with this is that this movie would be nowhere near as good as it is had we not had the phase 1 and 2 MCU movies. While this movie could stand on its own even if someone watching was completely unfamiliar with the characters, being familiar with the characters from their previous movies makes Civil War all the better.

    Yes, this movie was a better Avengers movie than Age of Ultron. In fact, this should have been an Avengers movie, and not a Captain America one, but I get why they did it as he is the main protagonist of the movie.

    I do agree that the emo Tony was turned up a little much (especially with that random black lady). I don’t think it should have affected him to the point that it did. However, I do agree that the reveal of his parents getting killed by Bucky would be enough to send him over the edge like that. Especially if you were to take his PTSD into account (see how great it is when the previous movies add depth?) from Iron Man 3. You can make a case for Tony breaking down emotionally and mentally based on past events. It’s no wonder why he wants to play it safe by siding with the government. His sanity depends on clear “black” and “white.” Any time you have a grey area, he starts to let doubt and fear creep into his mind. Ironically, Captain America, who is the very embodiment of pure good against pure evil (amusing you lived in the US circa 1940) has slowly come to recognize the grey area that is so much in contrast to his nature (and what he used to know). Yet, it’s his overwhelming sense of morality that allows him to see the good in bad people and the bad in good people and act in righteousness. He wants to bring out the truth, but only when painted against one of his highest values: loyalty.

    For the most part, I did like Tom Holland as a young, high school Parker/Spider-Man. I think Marvel did a good job with the character. He was on screen just enough to be a welcome change of pace (and fan service) while not staying on too long to be annoying. One could make an argument that his contribution to the movie was forced or unnecessary (as Tony could have recruited another MCU character), but it was nice to see Marvel’s introduction to the character and not have it be an origin story. They act as if he’d always been a part of the universe and almost makes you feel that there should be a Spider-Man MCU movie (which would probably be awesome). On the negative side for me would be the (relatively) young, hot Aunt May. I agree with you when you say that no one should ever fantasize about Aunt May. Unlike you, however, I was not thrilled with the CGI Spider-Man. I get why they did it (some of those moves would probably be damn near impossible even with fancy wire-work) but it still doesn’t mean I have to like it. A part of my brain can’t get past the uncanny valley of CGI Spider-Man. I will admit that it has come a long way since 2001 and looks a lot better now (love the expressive eyes), but when I see an all-out brawl of (mostly) live-action characters, it kind of breaks the immersion for me a little bit. It’s like Batman fighting Superman with CGI Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern coming into the fight.

    My one nitpick with the movie was about the Stark parents-Winter Solider scene. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention (I’ll likely have to see this movie again) or maybe I missed it, but why exactly were Howard and his wife carrying super solider serum in the back of his car as nonchalantly as taking a midnight stroll down an abandoned road? How did the Russians know they were going that way to intercept? If Howard was transporting the serum, why the hell did he take his wife with him? All the camera angles and high resolution and night vision of those CCTV cameras back in 1991 was some major bullshit. We got to see everybody’s face as clear as day, even when in the car… at night! Those were some perfectly placed cameras if I ever saw them. What would have happened if Howard Stark slammed on the brakes earlier or sped up a little? Would he have missed that sweet spot where the Russians apparently set up no less than 4 conveniently placed, high res video cameras? Lastly, what was Zemo’s ultimate angle in all of this? I get that he was plotting to break up the Avengers, but to what end? Will he reveal the reason for doing so in the next movie? Surely, you wouldn’t go through all THAT trouble just because you’re butthurt about something that happened 30 years ago, right?

    Aside from that, I think it was probably the best Avengers movie to date. I don’t know how they are going to top this one… even with Thanos.

    I may have some more thoughts on the movie later, but I have to go and I think what I wrote is enough for now.

    • The Stark stuff is understandable, but non-essential. You can dismiss it as him doing SHIELD stuff.

      Zemo got exactly what he wanted. The Avengers are fractured and fighting each other. He made the team and world weaker by fracturing them. I’m not sure what you mean by “30 years ago” since it wasn’t 30 years between Age of Ultron and Civil War.

    • Tokz_21

      I was in the same boat as rpad when I initially made my comment but after talking about it more this movie does have some issues but the not the ones the Cuban pointed out. I get the reason Zemo has but the better plan wouldve been to let those more lethal winter soldiers out. Also, yes Howard Stark was running a mission and he brought his wife as a cover? If u are running a secret mission with important shite why wouldn’t you try to make ur trip more suspicious by bringing your wife too. I guess the Cuban forgot that Hydra infiltrated Shield so im sure someone wouldve known of the mission. And my last issue I really feel that Marvel missed something it doesnt annoy me as much as the 5 super soldiers but i feel that it wouldve been better if the winter soldier killed Spiderman’s parents instead of Howard. I get it. It’s civil war but it wouldve connected spider-man more to the story.

  • smartguy81

    First of all this was a very good Marvel movie. I’m not sure it cracks my personal top 3 but it just might bump Winter Soldier for that honor.

    I feel the casting is spot on for these movies for the most part. I wasn’t a fan of Sam Wilson but he really made me like him in this movie. The only things that don’t work for me are Don Cheadle since he is such a good actor and should get more screen time and Elizabeth Olsen. I agree with Ray’s assessment on her character’s viability and onscreen portrayal.

    Spiderman was great. A young Spiderman is a good Spiderman. He and Paul Rudd steal the airport action sequence by a country mile.

    During the action scenes in which Vision is involved it reminded me of a conversation I had with friends about Thanos. He’s going to get a good old fashioned Blizzard type of nerf for the movies. Vision is obviously very capable but feels under-utilized or they just avoid his capability.

    Overall story was decent. I felt that the Avengers being blamed for a giant space dragon flying into buildings, Ultron doing what he did, and so on was a bit thick when it came to laying blame. I have to disagree with Ray regarding the hero and villain. I felt that both were irrational and Captain America became even more irrational once the video was played showing the Winter Soldier killing the Starks.

    Ending: I felt this was the weakest part of the movie. Captain American relinquishes command of the Avengers to Ironman. I would have liked instead of a letter maybe something along the lines of Captain America pushing phase 3 towards Infinity War or something. It just felt very hollow.

    I am very excited at a Black Panther movie (hopefully) since Wakanda is very neat and I think the new Spiderman will be awesome.

    1. GotG
    2. Ironman
    3. Winter Soldier
    4. Civil War