Movie – Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War
© 2016 – Marvel Studios

I love a good superhero movie, and luckily in the past few years, I haven’t wanted for lack of them.  Since the first X-men movies re-invigorated the formula, it’s been an exciting time to love super heroes.  The biggest moment of all probably was in 2008 when Iron Man premiered, and Marvel reinvigorated its library of heroes on their own terms, with a grand plan to tell stories with many different heroes over the course of many films.  Phase One was comprised of introductory movies (and Iron Man 2) that re-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU, as it’s known), and culminated in the first Avengers movie.  The films that followed in Phase Two were about expanding the universe of heroes, and creating some discord and differences in hero philosophy with so many people with different opinions.

captain america: civil war
© 2016 – Marvel Studios

With Captain America: Civil War, we begin Phase Three, which is focused on a world where we are beginning to grow tired of superheroes.  We don’t appreciate how in saving our lives, they destroy our livelihoods.  How entire physical landscapes are ruined.  It is the cost of being super-powered, and the characters with those powers are only just beginning to realize the ramifications.  The plot of this movie is simple: Iron Man has been confronted with the destruction that he has caused, and realizes that while their powers can save lives, used recklessly, they are putting innocent bystanders of the world at death’s door because more and bigger villains are trying to goad the Avengers into battle.  Because the Avengers go off and do what they want without any regulation, people are hurt or killed by accident, even when these heroes are doing the wider world a service.  Iron Man believes that the team should be put under control of the UN and be treated like special forces – deployed at the right time, and not before.  Captain America believes there is more good that can be done without having to go through a committee first.  Captain and his friends who agree with him go on the run, Iron Man and his friends that agree with him follow.  And thus, they fight.  It’s 2.5 hours of an awesome-awful friend fight where the friends in questions have super powers.

Chris Evans Captain America
© 2016 – Marvel Studios

So – how was it?  Well…first off…uf.  Look at Chris Evans as Captain America.  So hot.  Shoulders so wide.  Basically, you trust that he’s going to scoop you up and save you and you’re going to love every minute of it.  And you get to stare at his beautiful visage for a few hours.  You also get his delightful friendship with Anthony Mackie as Falcon.  You get his friendship/bromance from beyond time with Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier.  And his witty banter back and forth with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.  All great stuff.

Black Panther in CA:CW
© 2016 – Marvel Studios

We get the introduction of Black Panther, the first African superhero (as opposed to African-American), who also happens to be T’Challa, the Prince of Wakanda.  He is played by Chadwick Boseman, who gets potentially the most impressive emotional arc of the entire movie, going from anger and vengefulness to acceptance and forgiveness.  The fact that he was so impactful in this movie, when he was something like the 4th or 5th lead shows that when the Black Panther movie comes out sometime in 2018, it’s going to be pretty special.  Also – how badass is that mask?  I wonder how he can breathe in it but still.

CA:CW Spiderman
© 2016 – Marvel Studios

Also wondrous in this movie is the introduction of Spider-Man…who is being rebooted for a third time.  *headdesk*  I mean, I get it.  I understand that if a company doesn’t use a property they own to make a movie, it reverts back to the original owners, which is why we get crappy movies like Fantastic Four that just keep happening.  And thankfully the producers here have decided to actually use a teenager play the most iconic teenage superhero ever.   (Don’t get me started on Marisa Tomei playing Aunt May, because I think she was great and age appropriate.  She’s in her 50s despite what you might think based on how amazing she looks.  Of COURSE she can have a 16 year old nephew.  Argument over.)  But this eager, loosey-goosey, complete newbie hero version of Spider-Man is so refreshing.  He is played by Tom Holland with such exuberance, that it’s hard not to love him.

What I don’t like about the movie is something that has been held against Marvel in the past – while there are plenty of “strong women” on the Avengers team and in the Marvel canon, they aren’t allowed to shine.  We won’t get our first female-titled MCU movie until 2018, and even that one (Ant-Man and the Wasp) requires that she share the title with a male superhero.  The movie I’d been most looking forward to was Captain Marvel who is amazing, and whose comics I may discuss and review here in the future.  She would have been an amazing role model and a spectacular first female title character if Marvel bosses weren’t going to get off their asses and do an origin story movie for Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson’s character).

But none of that really changes the movie.  It’s fun.  If you’re invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is another entry that you’ll enjoy.  If you like to spend hours ogling hot dudes with beefy pecs, this is a movie you’ll enjoy.  If you want to see women kicking butt and being the star of the show…you get half your wish?  In any case, I’m all in, and will continue to be there until things take a more decidedly downhill turn.

Details: “Captain America: Civil War”, written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo.  In theaters for a little while longer.

7 Comment

  1. Nicole says: Reply

    My favorite thing about this movie was Falcon’s sass. “So you like cats,” he asks deadpan to T’Challa. And the back and forth between him and Bucky was hilarious as well. I live for the dry humor.

    I felt conflicted about T’Challa actually. I mean, I LOVED him, let me say that. That actor is a beautiful man and I did not want the camera to leave his face every time he was on screen. And his character is super bad-ass and Boseman’s acting was rich to watch. However, I felt a tiny pang of discomfort because I felt like his character rested slightly on the “Magical Negro” trope (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicalNegro). He’s the first African superhero, and that is to be celebrated, but he his character, the literal epitome of his native people’s folk-story guardian, displays a deeper wisdom and nobility than the white people in whose world he stands. Comparatively, his African-American superhero peer – Falcon – is neither worse nor better than the white superheros that he calls friends. He gets to be portrayed with more or less the same flavor as Captain America or Iron Man or Black Widow (who is herself not American, either, but nonetheless white). IDK; I’m still working through it.

    1. maggie says: Reply

      I’m not sure I agree – at the beginning of the movie, he’s so very focused on vengeance, that that trait almost becomes his sole characteristic for the first part of the movie (along with stoicism). It was towards the end when he learns about the whys and hows and nuance of what happens that he becomes more nuanced himself. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than any of the other heroes, but it’s also his first appearance onscreen in the MCU, unlike nearly every other hero onscreen. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it was a really powerful introduction to show a hero who is willing to admit that he is wrong, and more importantly to forgive those who have wronged him.

      1. Nicole says:

        Yeah, funnily enough I agree with everything you said, but it’s for that exact reason that I saw him in the light of the Mystical Negro trope. BP is in this movie, for one reason, to literally model the behavior and attitude that Cap and Iron Man are failing to exhibit. His big moment of growth and acceptance and forgiveness comes at the exact same time that Iron Man is trying to kill Bucky for a crime he committed long ago as the Winter Soldier. It’s T’Challa that realizes he’s been angry at the wrong people, and trying to get vengeance for something that cannot be changed, while the American superheros are literally trying to kill each other over that same thing. He’s a foil for them, in many ways. Also, he’s a LITERAL Mystical Negro: His superhero-ness, it is implied, is imbued in him from the spirit of the protector in which his native people believe, unlike all the other superheros, who were made in some way (with the exception of Thor who is a literal being from another universe). Still thinking through this as I type though…it’s interesting to consider, regardless.

      2. maggie says:

        I’m still not sure I agree with your specific points about why he’s this “Mystical Negro” trope. Yes, he’s acting better than the main characters in this movie, but I feel like Cap had a similar journey to make in Winter Soldier, and also maybe that it’s just T’Challa’s character. We see him at the beginning having thoughtful, nuanced discussion about the superhero bill with his father and then with Natalie, which would fit into him later having a more thoughtful nuanced moment. Tony has always been a hot-head, since the first Iron Man movie. He shoots first, talks about stuff never, and drinks to forget the pain. Yes, it’s a contrast, but I don’t think being more rational when struck again with new emotional information makes him that magical negro.

        As for a hero with mystical powers – I think the Scarlet Witch certainly fits in that category.

      3. Nicole says:

        Ah but Scarlet Witch, too, was “made,” not born. At least in the MCU.

      4. maggie says:

        But she wasn’t made by a natural thing or by science – it was Loki’s staff (which is from that same Asgardian magic as Thor) that changed her and Quicksilver.

        We also don’t know where T’Challa gets his powers. I think a part of it could be the suit, and the other part…we don’t see. His origin story is one we don’t see, and I bet that if we did see it in the Black Panther movie, it would be more in line with other MCU heroes – a thing happened (not a magic thing necessarily), and it made him become more.

  2. Nicole says: Reply

    Also, Spider-Man. You should have seen Ben in the theatre when he was revealed. And for hours after the movie ended…. Haha. I thought he was great! I loved that he was a true KID, like you said, and he felt real in that way. Try as they might, neither Garfield nor McGuire (CERTAINLY not McGuire!), felt like believable teens. But Holland’s awkwardness and teenage sense of humor and honest humility felt genuine.

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