Sunday, May 8, 2016

Captain America: Civil War Review

We need MORE hero vs. hero action! More moral quandaries! More philosophical arguments! MOOOOOORE!!!

Civil War sucks. And no, I don't mean the actual Marvel movie, I mean the original event comic this movie is "based on".

Civil War was a dark, unnecessarily morbid and joyless affair that made all of the heroes present into jerks and/or outright villains, punished heroes for being heroic, and was the centerpoint for Marvel's strategy in the mid 2000's and why they failed at actually writing comics. It would be an understatement to say that Civil War impacted the Marvel Universe for the worse, though the book does have its fans. I'm not going to knock on those fans, but if you were to ask me what one of the worst event comics of the 21st century is, I would say Civil War ranks in the Top 5.

Thankfully, Captain America: Civil War takes after the original comic in name only and shares a few key similarities with it, but that's about it. And good on them if you ask me, because trying to accurately adapt that comic would have been stupid, if not insane. Instead, we actually get a pretty enjoyable superhero movie that I would say satisfied my needs, yet makes me yearn for more classic superhero stories.

So after everything that's happened in the MCU, the United Nations all got together and agreed that having a team of super powered people capable of destroying cities go unchecked is a pretty nasty prospect. So the United Nations crafts a bill titled the Sokovia Accords, which essentially state that the Avengers will be owned by the UN and will act at their request instead of acting whenever they want. A schism forms between Iron Man and Captain America, who supports the accords and opposes the accords respectively, but all of that gets chucked out the window when The Winter Soldier suddenly reappears and seems to be wreaking havoc in the MCU. Captain America tries to find Bucky to protect him, while Iron Man and whatever Avengers side with him try to track Bucky and Captain America down to serve the UN. Oh, and Spider Man makes an appearance too.

So I tired my best to leave out as much plot as I could in that description because of two reasons. One, the plot actually matters very little when compared to the character relationships, and two, the movie is much more focused on exploring the philosophical differences between Captain America and Iron Man and why they're doing what they're doing. Both heroes are exploring moral grey areas, where Iron Man is worried that his actions will cost many innocent civilians their lives, while Captain America believes that if they're controlled by people, people have agendas that could influence the Avengers' ability to actually be heroes. At the end of the day though, it's hard to say that Iron Man has a valid point in this movie, because while he preaches for several scenes that they can't sacrifice innocent civilians in their pursuit of justice, he neglects to mention that he, as well as the Avengers, SAVED THE WORLD FOR TOTAL DESTRUCTION.

Look, I get the moral quandary that Tony is going through, but it's all spurred by one woman, singular, coming up to him and saying that she blames him for the death of her son during Age of Ultron. It was the Avengers' fault that he died, so they're just as bad as the villains because they did nothing to stop his death.

Ummm... no.

Ultron was a villain that was going to drop a meteoric city onto Earth to destroy it. Loki was planning an inter dimmensional invasion to take over Earth. HYDRA was planning a hostile takeover of Washington D.C. to overthrow the American government. These were all major, global events that if it wasn't for the Avengers, would have brought about the end of the world in one way or another. Yes, it sucks that your son died lady, and I know you must be grieving terribly for his loss, but would you rather he be alive while Ultron destroyed the entire planet? Yeah, I don't think so. And the fact that Tony Stark is so affected by this, while is in line for his character now, hampers his whole argument and the central premise of the damn movie. He says the heroes should sign the accords to prevent future innocent civilians from dying, but they're still going to die regardless of the accords. So morally, this movie makes no sense.

But to be fair, I don't really care about the arguments that Civil War makes, dumb as they may be. Because I still enjoyed myself whenever I saw heroes fighting heroes.

Personally, I hate the very concept of heroes fighting against heroes. I firmly believe that superheroes should spend their time fighting villains rather than each other, because the forces of good shouldn't fight against each other in the face of danger. Villains exists for a reason, and when stories like Civil War come along, I roll my eyes are far back as humanly possible because the same arc repeats itself. Hero disagrees with hero, villain prepares a master scheme,  heroes fight each other, realize that one of them was wrong, make up, then team up to fight the villain. That arc is in spades here, making me impatient whenever I see scenes of Captain America and Iron Man bickering.

Now to be fair, the fight scene between Team Cap and Team Iron Man is magnificent. Instead of having two burly action figures smash into each other like in Batman v. Superman, each character has a chance to shine in this fight. Everyone has a good line, a good hit, or a strong moment that makes me smile as wide as I can. When Spider Man is fighting, I'm loving every second of it because he has great chemistry between every character on both teams. Ant Man has a great moment in the fight, as does Vision, Black Widow, Black Panther, Hawkeye, and even Falcon. And the fight is long. It takes up about ten minutes or so from the running time, but it's just long enough to keep me entertained and immersed in the action.

It's always been apparent to me since Captain America: The First Avenger that Steve Rogers would be one of the more interesting characters in the MCU. He's a fish out of water, and I'm happy that they included several classic Captain America quotes that directly influences his personality. Hindsight may have dampened my appeal for The Winter Soldier, but I think that Civil War does the most justice to Captain America. If you were to ask me what the quintessential Captain America movie was, a movie that would explain everything that Captain America stood for, I would say Civil War fills that role. It also serves as a great primer for Black Panther and Spider Man, making me even more excited about those two movies than I ever thought I would be.

Civil War ultimately succeeds where Age of Ultron failed. It doesn't try to juggle every character and set up five different movies. It doesn't try to have grand sweeping action to justify its scale. It doesn't attempt to be three hours long just to make sure that everyone gets a turn to speak. Instead, Civil War focuses on exactly what it needs to, spends as much time as possible with characters that relate to the overall conflict, and doesn't go big just because it can. This is what Age of Ultron should have been.

I've been watching a series called My Hero Academia recently online. While I have a lot of problems with the series, the one thing that I adore is the message. In it, heroes are heroes because they do what is right because it is right. A hero isn't defined by their powers, but the will and perseverance to do the right thing. Civil War misses that ideology slightly, but it still retains the idea that heroes are heroes because they're good people. Civil War is a perfectly fine movie that delivers on its premise and makes you remember when you like Captain America and his team in the first place, while showing fans that they have every reason to love Spider Man, Black Panther, and the new status quo set by Civil War. 


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