I didn’t go see “Captain America: Civil War” opening weekend as crowds aren’t my favorite – and I did have some other obligations. But I went last night. I was nervous about how they were going to deal with the idea of “registering” people with powers (as we’ve seen in the ABC TV Show, “Marvel: Agents of Shield” (which does run in some fashion as a companion to the Marvel films). The film focuses more on The Avengers; than “inhumans” or people with powers – specifically. The idea is that the United Nations wants to control The Avengers – determining when/if they are needed and calling the shots. The United Nations wants to bring them to heel; they are simply too powerful without a leash.
IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE AND DO NOT WISH TO BE SPOILED, STOP READING. I AM GOING TO BE TALKING DETAILS HERE.
For me, the viewer, while I understood the premise/idea behind the fear that drives this particular plot point – it also made me angry. Not once during the reprimanding and reminding of the Avengers of all of destruction in New York, Washington DC, or Sokovia were the big bads/evil guys laid to blame. There were, “…thanks for your help..”, “..we know we owe you for defending us..” kind of statements – but they were throw away lines to me. They felt hollow and insincere. And, frankly a little too reminiscent of how we hear our own government in the real world deal with big battle catastrophes and attacks. Not enough blame goes to the evil doers that decided to attack and murder innocent people. As you never know where evil is going to show it’s evil head, the theory here seems to be to harness the head you DO know, i.e. The Avengers. And it’s lame.
I won’t lie, I was surprised to see how quickly Tony Stark would be consumed by his guilt to readily agree that they all have to be reined in. He was almost manic about it. Ashamed at a level that seemed uncharacteristic. I’ve seen all of the films several times; and while Robert Downey, Jr is ALWAYS fantastic, I found myself for the first time wanting to punch Tony Stark in HIS fabulous face. He annoyed me. Disappointed me. (Not through the entire movie, however – just in the beginning to the middle – which is still too long!)
Conversely, Captain America never waivers in his stance of what is right and wrong. He talks about choice of the individual and acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions. He carries the weight of the human losses; knowing that he did what he could to minimize the collateral damage while defending against evil. Tony can’t handle the weight at all and he’s desperate to unload it onto another entity.
“This job… we try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody. But you don’t give up.” – Steve Rogers, Captain America
Therein lies the line between sides. Who feels they should be controlled by the government and who believes they should control themselves. Guilt can be just as powerful as fear; which we are shown in this film. And it proves to be a very powerful motivator for some of the Marvel beings. Throughout the entire film, I tried to imagine what my choice would be. I couldn’t escape it – I’m Team Cap all the way.
My friend, Annie Jackson said it best in her recent post, “He’s such a fantastic character, constantly at odds with the world around him because he is a Modern hero in a Post-Modern world.” She further clarifies it here:
In storytelling, the difference between Modernism and Post-Modernism is the difference between Captain America and Iron Man. It is Superman and Batman. It is stalwart heroes who wrestle with external conflict without the burden of internal conflict vs. heroes with so much internal conflict they are their own worst enemy.
I’m going to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Annie Jackson Books. She is an author, as well as talented reviewer and commentator on TV, Movies, and modern entertainment. So, please check out her site.
There is one small chink in Steve’s armor, however, or weakness – and that is Bucky. Throughout the film he is fighting to save Bucky from being hunted and murdered, as he’d been tortured and controlled by Hydra for years. His mind wasn’t his own. However, there is a moment where Bucky does say, “But I did do those things”, to Steve. It was that moment, where I felt that Bucky’s character should have turned himself in. Begged Steve to turn him in, especially seeing the destructive effect the manhunt was having on The Avengers and Steve’s personal friendships. But he doesn’t. He flees. I felt it was a missed opportunity here. Later, they mollified me quite a bit by having him voluntarily have himself frozen until someone could figure out how to get all of the Hydra conditioning out of his brain. He realizes he’s a huge threat and danger to everyone; and really there isn’t anything else for him anyway. And I get for the sake of the endgame fight they wanted to happen, they had to lead us back to the beginning in sense before having Bucky AND Steve stand down. (Isn’t it funny that when I think of/talk about Bucky and Steve – I don’t refer to him as Captain America? Well it is to me!)
The film itself is a feast for the eyes. Lots of action. Lots of humor. Lots of conflict and hard to watch encounters by former brothers-in-arms fighting each other. Make no mistake, it IS super hard to watch them go at each other. The cast wears it well and is very convincing. There are some twists and surprises along the way as well. So much of this film is driven by the heart: love, grief, fear, guilt, trust, and less about aliens and invasions. And in the end, it is clear that it isn’t really over for The Avengers, and that friendship goes deep. Way deep.
On the more geekier side….
- I was thrilled to finally get to see just how “super soldier” soldiers like Captain America and Bucky (Winter Soldier) could be. While we’ve seen them be strong and quick; what we get to see in one particularly thrilling car/tunnel chase scene is absolutely fantastic – and frankly, eye porn for geeks like me in the audience!
- If anyone ever had ANY doubt as to who would win (which I never did) – your questions are answered here.
- Black Panther is awesome – design, character, and execution. I dare you to tell me where you actually heard him land. Anywhere. Beautifully done.
- Natasha Romanov “Black Widow” is particularly lovely throughout the entire movie. And her moves only get better.
- All of the humor was spot on. The bickering in particular between Falcon – and ANYONE – was delightful.
- I completely squealed out loud when Steve finally got to kiss the girl. It was about goddamned time! I have no issue that the girl is Peggy’s niece – for some reason it makes complete sense to me. AND? She’s a badass in her own right.
- Having the kiss witnessed by Steve’s best buds? And them cheering him on with their eyes??! CLASSIC
- Teen Spiderman is adorable, but Tony never should have brought that child into such a big fight.
- I was sad that Pepper and Tony appear to be on the outs.
- Having Antman stomp around like Godzilla was AWESOME
- I was half-afraid they were going to have Captain America actually kill IronMan; Steve kill Tony Stark. I was holding my breath on that one and was very relieved they didn’t take us down THAT horrible path.
- I’d like to know just when/how Captain America received the piece of information that the Winter Soldier had killed Tony’s parents?! WHAT?! HUH?!
- It was sad to lose Peggy Carter, end of an era and all that (especially on the heels of her tv show being cancelled).
- Thank God Natasha broke ranks first….it took her long enough!
- So..how is Captain America going to get shield back?!
- Where DID Captain America and those he helps escape go?!
- That final old-school letter to Tony made me tear up a little
I highly recommend the movie both for the entertainment factor and the ideas / ideals behind it. Which side will you be on?