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After Seeing “Captain America: Civil War” I’m Left Wondering Why All the Love?

Full disclosure: I went to go see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” back when it came out and enjoyed it quite a bit. I was a leery of making Hydra a shadow government since I felt it let all the air out of the balloon regarding the movie’s thesis on government power and the politics of fear.

However, the other elements outshone that critique.

Not so with “Civil War”. I found myself having a hard time caring about the characters. The movie felt overlong and bloated as a result. For me, the movie’s climactic moment should have been the airport fight, with a quick winding down as the sides become more entrenched and then carry things over to a future film.

Also, the characters seem to approach every problem as something to blast or punch. I know: it’s a superhero film, but the Avengers are doing triple duty as spies, diplomats and special forces. If there’s no place in the story to show me the Avengers being diplomats or something new, then I’m going to get pretty bored pretty soon.

It didn’t help that I had seen this video earlier in the day, either:

The fight scenes are presented in handheld, presumably to add to the feeling of authenticity. In reality, it seems far more likely the film crew was trying to hide how the actors may not have been coached. As the video states, these scenes can burn up hundreds of takes to get right. I can’t imagine Disney and Marvel allowing their directors to do this, given the grueling schedules they have.

Spoilers to Follow:

Some random things that left me scratching my head were

  • Why did any of the Avengers need to sign the Accords? Whenever Congress or another governmental entity passes a law, we don’t have to sign anything. It’s ratified, and then enforced, depending on the funding earmarked to do so. Dumb plot device, in my book.
  • I would have found Tony Stark’s motivations for signing the Sokovia Accords much more believable if his decision would have been all about how he needed to continue his ongoing contracts with the U.S. government. “You’re threatening to cost me $130 billion,” sounds asshole-ish enough for Tony Stark’s character.
  • Why didn’t anyone suspect the blurry photograph and the fact the Winter Soldier had successfully been in hiding for 13 years? Why didn’t anyone (Cap, perhaps?) bring up that point?
  • Revenge seems to be the sin du jour throughout the movie, with parental figures biting the bullet left and right. I was wondering why they wanted to out-Bruce-Wayne Bruce Wayne. . .
  • Too, too long for me. This has to do with my lack of engagement with the characters, but structurally, I felt that the airport battle is the climactic scene. As a result, the rest of the movie meanders off towards its exit.

did enjoy the scenes with Spiderman and Peter Parker quite a bit. He came across just as enthusiastic and fanboyish as I imagined. My one quibble would be the line about “that really old movie, The Empire Strikes Back”. . . sort of a ham-handed attempt to make him appear young, as well as product placement.

Maybe Marvel’s Cinematic Universe’s has phased me out, or maybe the ensemble format leaves much to be desired, I’m not sure.

 

Published inScience Fiction

3 Comments

  1. Making Tony’s motivation about money instead of empathy for the people he’s hurting would make him a villain instead of someone the audience in turn can empathize with. In BvS, Bruce Wayne is clearly in the wrong. Civil War played it more gray and made both sides relatable. Plus, it serves as character development for someone who in Iron Man 2 told Congress that he had successfully privatized world peace and wouldn’t turn his tech over to the government. A Tony that has matured since Iron Man 2 is much more interesting than one who cares more about contracts than people.

    And the airport battle is candy. The fight at the end is the meat and potatoes, pure character driven drama.

    • kjy1066@gmail.com kjy1066@gmail.com

      I guess I can get that making Tony care about people rather than his profits would make him more “heroic”. A couple of points, however: 1) by letting more “real-world” issues come up, critiques such as mine may tend to come up more often; and, 2) Tony’s always been a morally ambiguous character, and having him be a bit more villainous in Civil War would have been par for the course. I suppose that if we had seen Pepper Potts break up with Tony on screen rather than withholding that information until the last possible moment, I would have felt for him. As it stood, I was left wondering if this was some sort of moving-the-goalposts plea from sentimentality to get Cap to agree. As for the airport battle, you’re absolutely right. . . it is candy–just the type of candy I’ve come to expect from Marvel movies. I would counter that the meat-and-potatoes was a little undercooked for me, mainly because some of the more important character work hadn’t really been taken care of earlier. This made the sudden reveal (which I felt was unnecessary) that Tony’s parents were assassinated seem both heavy handed and manipulative.

  2. Ok, one more.

    “Why did any of the Avengers need to sign the Accords? Whenever Congress or another governmental entity passes a law, we don’t have to sign anything. It’s ratified, and then enforced, depending on the funding earmarked to do so. Dumb plot device, in my book.”

    Wanda is referred to as a weapon of mass destruction in the movie. General Ross compares the missing Banner and Thor to misplaced nuclear weapons. It’s safer to get these kinds of people to willingly agree to supervision and deferment of power to politicians. In the real world, we don’t have to sign anything because men with guns can make us obey the law. Guns don’t work on the Hulk. The Accords exist because people are scared shitless of the mass destruction The Avengers (a non state actor) have left in their wake, and the UN was trying to bring them under control diplomatically rather than risk another city getting leveled by bringing them under control by force.

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