Captain America: Civil War
May 10, 2016
The Short Review: I thought the shaky cam was gonna kill me.
You know what a good use of shaky cam would be? Shake the camera once when someone hits the ground, to get a sense of jarring. But that’s it. Shaking it the rest of the time to convey the idea that it’s being held by a person-on-the-scene found footage documentarian? When that’s not the kind of movie you’re making? That’s stupid. Stop it stop it stop it. Just stop. STOP.
A-hem. But what about the movie? All right. With spoilers.
First act was a little rough, I gotta tell you. MCU movies usually win me over in the first scene, but I was so angry at the shaky cam that I wasn’t there. And then we got a lot of contrived explanation that I’m not sure I buy. So wait, is Ross saying that we all would have been better off if the Avengers hadn’t been at the Battle of New York? If they hadn’t downed the Hydra-controlled helicarriers? Or hadn’t stopped Ultron? Is that what he’s saying? Because I don’t think that’s right, you know?
And let’s break it down: This is all about Tony Stark’s guilt. He became Iron Man because he’s guilty over arms dealing. He created Ultron because he’s guilty about New York. The Accords are about being guilty over Sokovia. And really, ultimately, he’s super-guilty about how he handled his parents before their death. Tony’s enough of a narcissist that he doesn’t want to be guilty alone — he’s going to spread it around. It can’t be his fault because it’s everyone’s fault, right? On the one hand, I’m totally happy psychoanalyzing characters in superhero movies, especially when the movies give me enough to psychoanalyze with. These movies are so good with character.
On the other hand, Steve is totally right and Secretary Ross is using Tony’s guilt to manipulate the entire team into a politically expedient situation, because it’s always a good idea to target the guy writing the checks. There, I’m calling it. (And yes, there’s something to be said about the existence of superheroes somehow creating a commensurate level of disaster — but generally we call that plot.)
So yeah, a little awkward getting the plot spun up. But it turns out it’s all a red herring anyway. Once the plates all got spinning, the film was great. Lots of good moments, good banter, great action (GIANT MAN OMG), strong emotional arcs. A+.
It’s really hard not comparing this to Batman v. Superman, especially when both films have this core issue of collateral damage and oversight of superpowered heroes. And when both films have a good guy v. good guy smackdown. Civil War has a 12 character battle that is interesting, full of banter and weight, and wasn’t set in motion by a contrived plot-hammer. This is how you do it.
I’m not going to break the whole movie down or I’ll be here all day. I liked it. I’ll see it again like I see all the MCU movies again and maybe the shaky cam and stumbling first act won’t bother me so much. It did what it had to do well. Black Panther was great — a hero who stops to examine evidence and can change his mind? Nice. I loved Peter Parker. I’m a fan of the Raimi/Tobey McGuire Spider-Man and I actually like this character better. I hope this means we can have a Spider-Man movie without the origin story, since the origin was subtly handled in about two sentences here. (Tony: “Does anyone else know?” Peter: “No. Nobody.” *HEART BREAKS*) I really liked that the villain wasn’t an alien or a monster or technology gone wrong or anything. Just an angry guy with a plan.
And Peggy. That text message destroyed me. My wonderful Peggy. I knew it was coming, and yet….and yet…. The film did a fantastic job handling that whole situation. And I love that the film gave Captain America’s famous “No, you move” speech from the comic to Peggy, via the eulogy. Love it. (I remember Jarvis’s line from the TV show: “It’s my understanding Captain Rogers had you.” Oh yes he did.) (And I’d like to point out that we lose Peggy and Howard Stark in the same film. Symmetry.)
And now I have to go cry again.