Captain America – Civil War: Background
In spite of being the first avenger, one of the “original” Marvel superheroes, Captain America has a bit of a bigger reputation. He is the boring Marvel superhero who stinks of emotional righteousness. As a result, he only brings to his viewing die-hard comic fans who were there (more or less) at his inception and collectors of the vestiges of an American superpower some kind of melancholic relief.
Being played in now three installments by American actor Chris Evans should have injected some cool in the character, as shown by the actor’s signature portrayal of leads and particularly that of the fantastic four’s the Human Torch. However, the character’s intrinsic personality did not permit this side of his acting to entertain or to maintain him in some kind of stereotypical role, which I feel benefited both the actor and the role. Chris Evans keeps his charm though alongside an invisible but perceived trail of coolness he had been riding on, which, on top of the heroism, the innocent courage and the charisma of Captain America, propels his portrayal of the first avenger from a boring self-righteous black-and-white-world bore to someone you might want to watch a little closely after all.
Yet it takes a really strong plot to make this character more than just another superhero no matter how much more righteous. From the symbolism attached to him, to his name to his peculiar uniform, it seems the clothes he has been given to wear have played an adverse role to helping us relate to him. But from his original story as an underdog whose courage and positive attitude led him to a scientific potion then to greatness and the way that the filmmakers have taken some time into building the plot made it still a film worth watching.
I was not having the greatest of motivations for the third installment though. Seeing the superhero films rushed one after the other made me doubt about the time taken to make it more than just another stereotypical animation for comics nostalgics. And then, I saw the trailer.
Movie Captain America – Civil War – Trailer
Three main things captured me in the trailer:
- The film allowed itself to go deeper than any of its kind before it by putting its lead character in real question,
- An individual Marvel hero movie pulled the necessary stops to star more than just the commissioned lead hero with the ridiculous justifications for the other avengers’ absence which we all know relate more to costs (actors and special effects alike) and justifying individual films than to the plot sense, Captain America pulled the biggest trick of them all, getting notoriously expensive Robert Downey Jr.
- The coolness came to its peak with the introduction of the Black Panther and a new Spiderman.
There was no doubt now about this. I was just going to have to see this movie.
Captain America – Civil War – The film
It is indeed Civil War among the Avengers as two camps form that split the Marvel superhero group over what it means to take responsibility for the collateral damages that their saving the world do time and time again.
Captain America is on one side and since the film is named after him, that Black Widow who first sides against him lets him go at the crucial moment he is about to be arrested, and later on Tony Stark is accused of being too selfish to see further than the dispute, well I guess the film might seem to bend towards the Captain’s side. He choses to risk being seen as a vigilante as he refuses to sign accords that reassure the families of the innocent side-victims of their avenging that they are agreeing to be bound by some laws that will hold their reins and reassure everyone that themselves and their powers are being somehow under control and check.
It is a theme that would always have been on the cards, what with the constant worry that with great power comes greater sense of entitlement (and with it greed) than responsibility as would destroy any Marvel Universe and Tony Stark stating himself “if we don’t do it now, it will be done to us”.
Tony himself surprisingly stands on the other side with even more surprisingly Black Widow who believes that it is a means for truce and a little give on their side to reassure the public that they protect that they are not just off on another one. It is clear what the reasons are for Tony. The separation from Pepper Potts is mentioned, and the guilt grows with the loss of confidence among some people that indeed all the things he has done from the weapons to sponsoring all students grants in a University were indeed not as such good deeds (as collateral damage) but rather a way to appease his conscience and ease the burden of the money he has made, the latter being suggested by him himself.
One of the best make of a character CGI’ed back to his youth is that of Tony and we know how many times this has failed in the past (we are not going to mention any names but Ant Man’s will come back later on in this review).
All in all, action, solid plot, the usual lack of explication that causes some issues and misunderstandings that were avoidable, but I guess by now we are either used to it or we have come to the conclusion that even in a scripted dialogue, there has to be some sense of misunderstandings as the real life characters would not have rehearsed their part.
I think Captain America Civil War is much more about three main things:
- Putting a stain in the perfect black and white version of America ‘s world as the villain says in the end
- Introducing some new characters: First, it is great to see a first Spider Man that truly looks his supposed age, fits into the rest of the Marvel Universe and truly shows the use of his powers beyond chasing and stopping (or not) robbers and ill-fitted girlfriends. Second but not least, is is a breath of fresh air to be introduced to a Black Panther that purrs and roars and falls on his feet in the most impressively gracious way but does not interfere beyond his own mission, leaving the boys to come out of their revenge mode on their own just like he did, in their own time within their own pace of understanding and of falling out of the passion of their anger.
- Understanding that the Avengers can be summoned in an individual film for a change without jeopardising the Avengers films themselves or the lead character of the individual movies.
Movie Review: Captain America – Civil War – Verdict
Entertainment factor: 9/10
The film is fast-paced, makes sense most of the time and the spectator is torn between its heroes and does not feel obliged to side with Captain America, until of course, he saves his colleagues that have been imprisoned. The question will continue to haunt the intelligent viewer as to the right to free prisoners against the law because you can. The mind challenge justifies a fear of the vigilante who can do what they want because they can and in the name of what they believe is justice. Whether a government or even united nations-led avengers is a better option remains unsure with the coup witnessed and it would have been interesting to see a third option. It is hard not to root for the captain when he saves the heroes, resume some kind of friendship with Iron man, is friends with (kind of approved in the end by) the Black Panther and basically when there is as much to prove that he was right than the opposite but the dust has settled under the last collateral damages of their heroism. The only fact that I am having this monologue is proof that a film like that has touched deeper than the superficial (awesome btw) visual effects and way beyond the end of the film.
The very solid plot has been rehashed over and over again in this review. It stays with you beyond the film and continues to have you ask questions. Enough said on this. The point and a half taken off is for the little things here and there that feel less like a natural flow of the story than the occasional need to keep the audience surprised or wondering. A simple example is the unravelling of the villain’s plan and his phone conversations which does not make as much sense when the clues to it are remembered. There is nothing that could have led him to believe that his actions would lead to a civil war because there is nothing in his knowledge of the avengers that could lead him to believe that the captain would side with Buddy against his fellow avengers.
Visual effects 9/10
From the chase, the animations (or should I say the ani-motions) of Black Panther and Spiderman, the fights, the explosion (whether justified or not), everything has a beauty and precision that hides the artifice used to make it. I am just impressed.
As happy as I am with the casting, I still have a hard time forgiving the Marvel movie Universe for misunderstanding and ill-developing the character of Black Widow. Granted, it is not casting as such (or is it?) but if you are going to have one single female in this world of superheroes that does not have superhuman powers, try at least to construct within the plot and her contribution to it what truly makes up the reason she is there and indeed make her useful! Damn, I’ll take a point off for that. Why? Well, Marvel has now added more heroes, Antman, Spiderman, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Falcon (who is another one they completely mis-developed and definitely mis-cast, no offence to the awesome actor who plays him but Falcon is a 16-year old genius teenager when he joins the avengers) and seem to be playing on quantity rather than refining the characters they already have.
I actually thing the acting was on point. A genuine-sounding Antman, a Black Panther that fits the costume in more ways than one, a perfect teenager of a Spiderman (that conversation with Tony Stark lasted far too long by the way!), everyone seem to play their part beautifully. The only awkwardness came from Black Widow and Falcon, but not through the actors who, considering the lack of personality given to their characters, have done a great job.
Final Points (Entertainment + Visuals + (Plot x2) +Acting+Casting)/6 = 8.5 / 10
There is much more to the movie than I have spoken about in here but the scores reflect the whole film. It is obvious that the way it was developed means different people will be marked by different things as they come out of the cinema so my advice is without hesitation go and watch it if the relevant scores motivate you.