Saturday, May 14, 2016

View Log: Captain America: Civil War

Spoiler-Free Review
Captain America: Civil War takes the increasingly-fantastical Avengers and plops them down in the middle of Captain America’s world, where good and evil both cloud themselves in shades of grey until you start to have trouble telling which side is which. And the movie managed to take the deeply flawed (and often profoundly stupid) conflict between Captain America and Iron Man from the original Civil War event and make it work. That in and of itself is a small miracle.

If you haven’t seen it yet, buy your tickets right now. Like, literally right now.

As for anything else… Spoilers ahead!

You guys have no idea how much I loved this movie from the get-go. I could go on forever about it. But instead, I’ll be doing something a bit different with this View Log. To keep this from being a few thousand words long, I’ll be limiting myself to my five major praises and five major gripes regarding this movie, in no particular order.

  1. One of the things this movie does well is give the Civil War conflict a reason to exist. Collateral damage had been quietly ignored in the films until now, and it’s completely believable that people have been growing more and more vocal about condemning the destruction left in the Avengers’ wake, especially after the last few films. And since Tony knows what power is like in the wrong hands (Iron Man 1,2,3,), and Steve knows how politics can corrupt the best of intentions (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), their points of view are actually both valid, unlike in the original comics.
  2. Even though the Avengers got some screen time and a big fight scene, it was still a Captain America movie at the core, with the search for Bucky kicking off the main plot.
  3. Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei as Peter Parker and Aunt May. That is all.
  4. Helmut Zemo is an amazing villain. No powers. No fancy-schmancy future-tech. But through determination, guile, quick thinking, a little luck, and a lot of declassified HYDRA information after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., he manages to utterly break the Avengers as a whole. And his scheme could easily have ended with either Cap or Iron Man killing the other. And he survives! Finally, another MCU villain who wasn't killed off after having their best scenes cut! And his plan is a stroke of genius, too. Any other MCU film would have had him release the other Winter Soldiers, and the Avengers would team back up to stop him. But that was only a smokescreen to cover his real goal: Find the evidence linking Cap’s best friend to the death of Tony’s parents. Then sit back and watch the carnage. Simple, but personal. Actually, it's the kind of movie that Joss Whedon wanted Age of Ultron to be, before the higher-ups started meddling.
  5. This movie was able to focus on its own plot, rather than push the main story aside to make room for, say, buildup regarding the Infinity Stones. Looking at you, Age of Ultron.
  1. Introducing Black Panther (and doing his origin story), Spider-Man, and Giant Man in the same movie? And it isn’t even technically an Avengers movie? Perhaps a little overstuffed with new developments. (Though the Giant-Man reveal is immediately called out for being a deus ex machina.)
  2. Hawkeye sure had a short retirement, didn’t he?
  3. Helmut Zemo is nothing like his comics counterpart, though he did survive. Perhaps the purple mask and sword are yet to come? 
  4. Sure, the Avengers have caused quite a bit of collateral damage… but in the Sokovia events alone, they saved the population of Earth. 7 billion people. Maybe cut them a little slack, Former-General Ross? How did you even get a promotion to Secretary of State after creating the Abomination?
  5. The brief post-Peggy-funeral romance between Sharon Carter and Cap is kind of out of left field. It’s almost as if he goes, “Wait, Sharon’s related to my World War 2 gal pal? That’s almost as good as the real thing!”
Now, feel free to ask me my opinion on any other aspect of the movie. And feel more than free to leave your own thoughts on the film in the comments.

But in the end, I can’t recommend this movie enough if you haven’t seen it yet. I have to say that this is a phenomenal start to Phase Three of the MCU, and I can’t wait to see where things go from here. Especially since, strictly speaking, none of the Marvel heroes are allowed to operate without permission. That might be a problem for Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel when they show up….

I guess we’ll see how the good doctor deals with that hurdle later this year. See you then!


  1. Overly-forgiving fanboy that I am, I do believe I'll play Mephisto's advocate here and attempt to ignore- I mean defend all the flaws of what is quite possibly my favorite superhero movie yet.

    1. I know less is more, but as someone who can't get enough Marvel, (and loved Age of Ultron and Amazing Spider-Man 2 both) you won't see me complaining.

    2. To be fair, the Russo bros didn't write AoU.

    3. I never really cared for 616 Zemo. For me, the reinvention was a welcome improvement.

    4. The way I interpreted it, it wasn't so much about the Avengers being at fault and more about people wanting a scapegoat. If Ultron was still alive, I doubt the Avengers would be under so much fire. The same can be said of General Zod in Batman v Superman.

    5. ... No shut up they were adorable though. (Shipping intensifies)

    - That One (Fanboy) Anon

    1. 1. As for Age of Ultron, I'm wondering if I might enjoy it more now that my initial disappointment has worn off.

      3. Zemo's only cool moment was the big Thunderbolts twist. But dang it, sometimes a man just wants to see a pink mask!

      4. Fair point; the movie makes it very clear that this backlash was growing with no outlet for a while.

      5. They were, but I think it could have been handled a bit better.

  2. Also, in honor of the Friendly Neighborhood Web-Slinger's most comics-accurate film portrayal yet, can we maybe get some more Spectacular Spider-Man recaps in the not too-distant future? Pretty please with Vibranium on top?

    - That One Anon

    1. Wow, it's been almost a year, hasn't it?

      There definitely should be more SSM recaps before the year is out, but I'm afraid can't promise anything more specific than that.

  3. Zemo does makes me wonder. It feels as if they used him for name recognition, or they would use Dr Faustus.

    Is it just me or who Cap villains have tendency to be made underpowered in movies? Zero's normal, Strucker's a chump, Zola's a computer...I have no idea who can be villain in next movie, assuming that Marvel wants to sequalize their heroes forever.

    1. Well, to be fair, Dr. Faustus was already used in the first season of Agent Carter.

      But you raise an interesting point. I can only imagine the underpowering is the result of trying to make the characters "realistic."

    2. Oh yeah, cause Captain is the one with the most unrealistic gallery.

      Which makes me wonder, how Marvel decides who gets the movies and who can be thrown into tv shows. Are there fat discussions who gets MODOK or Serpent Society or Moon Knight?

    3. To be fair, Cap's rogues gallery is relatively unrealistic. It makes sense for Iron Man to fight genetically enhanced walking time bombs, and for Thor to fight space elves, but Cap is a far more "realistic" character with a less flashy powerset.

      And to answer your question, I believe that minor villains are simply a matter of calling them first, whereas major villains probably involve lengthy round table discussions.

      And I think heroes take forever to get going, judging by the ratio of proposed superheroes to the ones that we've seen so far.

  4. Don't forget that Stark was also suppose to retire. I admit, I am slightly disappointed that we never got to see New Avengers work together, aside for one mission where 2 members were missing.

    Still on of best Marvel movies, of course.

    - Faceless Enigma

    1. Yeah, my main thought at the end of Age of Ultron was "Wow! Look at this cool team! ...Who will disband the next time they show up."