You get an early Film Review Friday this week because I just came back from Civil War and want to get it down while it’s fresh!
Captain America: Civil War (2016) Dir. Anthony and Joe Russo Writ: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman Rated PG-13 146 mins. Action, Marvel IMDB 8.5
If you have somehow lived under a rock the past few months, Captain America: Civil War is the 3rd Captain America movie and 13th feature film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It tells the story of the Avengers after Age of Ultron. It’s been a few years and the Avengers have caused some collateral damage that has upset the wrong people, IE the international community. They are given the choice to either comply to being a UN sanctioned organization or to disband. In the midst of all of this, Steve Rogers’s old friend, Bucky Barnes, makes a return to the fold after being photographed setting off a bomb at the UN sanctioned signing of the accords. When the accords combined with Bucky Barnes being back tears the Avengers apart, they still have to save the world while fighting each other as well.
Okay, so let me preface EVERYTHING I’m about to say with making it clear that I REALLY enjoyed this movie. It was AMAZING. I don’t want you to look at ALL the criticism I’m about to give and think I wasn’t so happy with it.
Buuuuut I’m gonna get all the criticism out of the way before the praise.
To start with, I feel betrayed by whoever it was that said, “This is still very much a Captain America movie” when people started saying what I feared all along that this seemed a LOT like Avengers 3, not Captain America 3… because it was definitely not very much Captain America’s movie. I think I would’ve been happier with this as an Iron Man movie than a Captain America movie, honestly. As an Avengers movie, this movie was excellent. As a Captain America movie, it didn’t quite cut it. And here’s why:
- Steve Rogers, Captain America, the man whose name is in the title, had very little character development. His character arc was very flat. In order to make a good movie, your protagonist has to change somewhere along the way, and Steve did not really change. He went from “We shouldn’t be controlled” to “We shouldn’t be controlled and Bucky should not be blamed for this” to “We shouldn’t be controlled and Bucky should not be blamed for this again, let’s fight” to “We shouldn’t be controlled and Bucky should not be blamed for this other thing, let’s fight some more.” Steve’s great, but his character does not develop like a protagonist should.
- Speaking of Bucky, the guy that’s been missing for what I believe they said was SEVEN YEARS (correct me if I’m wrong, they may have said ‘several’) after Washington? The one that Steve has been searching for forever and then finds and saves from a international response team death squad? Yeah THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A SINGLE CONVERSATION! You mean to tell me, you are going to give us 10 minutes of fighting in a stairwell at the expense of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, the best friend he’s been trying to find for ages, the one person he never gives up on, even talking? Hell, not just Steve! Bucky had like 10 lines in this whole movie, but unlike Winter Soldier where that was the point, he was meant to be like a MAIN PART of this movie and he was basically a prop, not a character.
- While we’re on the subject of characters: Yeah, Spiderman was cute and def not as shitty as I expected when I first found out he was in it… but he was also utterly unnecessary. He had no use in this movie other than A) introduce Spiderman to the canon, B) even out the ‘one teenager per team’ quota. He was pointless and it was just a waste of movie time. An adorable waste, but still a waste.
- Also a waste, was the bad guy’s final ‘plot twist’. Not his motivation, that was a really good one, but that he did all of that terrorism stuff just so he could kill some super soldiers who have been frozen for decades where nobody is probably gonna find them other than him JUST to attract the Avengers so he could show them a video of Bucky killing his parents. Literally he could’ve just sent Tony an email. Posted it on youtube and let it go viral. Hell, youtube would’ve did the ‘the world finds Bucky Barnes cause he’s relevant again’ thing without mass killing by bombing a busy street. It was just far too convoluted if his only goal was to end super soldiers and enhanced beings.
- The worst part of all of it was that there was so little emotional impact for the right things. The Sharon Carter part was so extraneous that you can’t really care that he liked a girl and finally got to kiss one. Yay. She was literally only there to kiss Captain America one time and be a link to Peggy dying. Her part in the movie wasn’t as important as it should’ve been to make it reasonable to bring her back into the story. Peggy’s funeral was the only part of Steve’s story that had any emotional impact really. Bucky’s ‘poor Bucky’ wasn’t even that ‘poor Bucky’ because it never focused on him with any real emotion. There were a few things that had emotional impact, but there was never a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking moment for the MAIN CHARACTER at all.
Okay now that I’ve sorta ripped the movie to shreds, let me highlight all the REALLY great things about this movie!
To start with, the reason I say this would’ve made a way better Iron Man movie than Captain America is because almost ALL of the things that I said up there? Were totally opposite for Tony Stark! He had a great character arc! He started in one place, went to a dozen different points, and then ended on an incredibly emotional point at the climax before returning to a more human point in the 3rd act of the film. He has so many solo parts of the movie where it’s HIS story and it’s a damn good one, full of emotion. You really feel for Tony so much in this movie. Even when you disagree with his choices, you understand them and it makes it hurt so much more. He hurts and he prevails and he has heart and he has ego and he has such a vast range of human emotions in this movie. It’s like Avengers all over again with Tony’s well measured character arc. I’m not saying Steve WASN’T good, I’m just saying that from a writing perspective, going by ‘how to write a good character’, Tony was the one that SEEMED to be the protagonist in this movie, not Steve.
And speaking of incredibly well done characters with great characterization, T’CHALLA!!! Oh man Black Panther was wonderful! He was such a great character and Chadwick Boseman did an AMAZING job! Oh man he was the best part of this movie, not even kidding. I loooove him. Can he be in every movie ever from now on? HE was even better as far as emotional arc than Steve and Bucky’s. From the moment we met him until the very end, he was just never stagnant, he was always evolving as a character, and it was awesome. I’m so happy with that.
Wanda and Vision’s budding feelings were freaking adorable. Anybody that knows the canon knows that Wanda and Vision getting together is a thing, so it was just so cute how they did it. Aw man I loved it. So adorable!
Sam was hilarious, Ant-Man was super fun, and wow, Clint was really good. Like, he was barely there, but he had really good moments. Also Natasha was really amazing, too. Her ambiguity was very fitting, never gets old, and worked really well. Also, if we’re talking about things that never get old RHODEY! Oh man I love Rhodey. His and Tony’s friendship is the one thing that never dies and I love it so much.
Also one of the better Stan Lee cameos! I loved it!
All in all, for all I complained about, I don’t want you to think I didn’t love this movie. It was amazing. It’s just that Marvel movies are always SO GOOD with their characterization, and this movie sacrificed a lot of good character stuff for some random things that weren’t necessary and just didn’t work. Nobody needs more fighting when it means sacrificing the protagonists story arc, come on! But as you’re about to see with my rating, even the negatives aren’t enough to change that it really was still a very good movie. But the people who claimed that it was ‘as good as Winter Soldier‘ were just wrong. Way, way wrong. It’s definitely not nearly as good as that, even if it is a damn good movie.
My Rating: 8/10 Amended 5/7/16: The more I think about this movie, honestly, the more bummed I am by how little like a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie it was and how much more like an Avengers movie it is. I wrote this review fresh after watching it, and it’s still a great movie to watch, but if I’m really honest with myself, as Captain America 3 it just isn’t worthy of an 8/10 rating.
Amended 11/12/17: I just watched this movie for a 3rd time and it’s still worse and worse every time I watch it. I can’t even give it a 7/10.
My Rating: 6/10