Uncollected Thoughts: Captain America – Civil War

As you should know by now, I am a lifelong DC Comics fan, in large part by my formative comics experiences in a part of Manchester where Marvel’s titles weren’t distributed, but also because by temperament I am not fully in sympathy with Marvel’s standard tone of screaming hysteria.

Of course, when it comes to the two company’s Cinematic Universe, there’s even less of  a contrast: Marvel have it sewn up and as long as Zack Snyder is allowed to even buy DC Comics, that’s the way it will sell.

I’ve already expressed my opinion of Batman vs Superman, which is overwhelmingly the worst film starring DC characters ever made (and I speak as one who has seen the 1990 Justice League of America TV film. Seriously, even that was better).

I shalln’t waste time re-enumerating Batman vs Superman‘s faults, which I’ve had to argue with colleagues at work who held contradictory opinions. Suffice to say that this film was everything I wished a DC film starring the two most iconic characters in the world had been.

It was fast-paced, properly balanced between light and dark, properly grounded, well thought-through and not afraid for a second to have it’s characters going out during the day. It didn’t bore the arse off me, it progressed logically from stage to stage, it was joyful fun in large measures, and it managed a large cast far better than Snyder managed a cast of two.

Although it said Captain America on the shingle, forget that. This was an Avengers movie, whatever the official billing. It was about the Avengers from start to finish and whilst it used Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, as its focus point, demanding a leading role from Chris Evans, it was the ensemble that carried everything through.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and it didn’t feel like two and a half hours plus, I find myself with nothing in particular to say about it. It was good fun, an entertaining way of passing several hours, and I had a whale of a time during the Avenger vs Avenger sequence at Leipzig Airport (my word, Marvel got Spider-Man absolutely perfectly though I am one with the entire Marvel fandom in finding the concept of a fanciable Aunt May as alien beyond belief), but there wasn’t much of it that was of significance. Sometimes, you don’t actually need that to have fun. Even me.

Couple of points: I haven’t read the original Civil War series but it was a little disappointing that the film didn’t try harder to set up a genuine opposition to Cap’s instinctive adherence to freedom. Tony Stark was far too easily convinced by one angry mother’s denouncement of the Avengers for one dead son in the midst of saving the Earth from being destroyed. Nor was there any principled solution to the genuine moral dilemma posed, though between the weak motivation and Cap’s escape  with ‘his’ Avengers, the film declared its position.

It reminded me very much of the 1986 DC crossover series, Legends, in which a demagogue supposedly turns America against its superheroes, a story fatally weakened by the fact that no-one connected with the production of the series could actually conceive of superheroes as anything but an absolute good, and consequently couldn’t provide a single half-decent argument for the demagogue’s case. No-one connected with the film could come up with anything they really believed in.

Never mind. Such pretensions were better sidelined and the overall fun aspect of the film made it easy to do so. Good fun was had, and I’d watch this one again if anyone was interested in taking me.


2 thoughts on “Uncollected Thoughts: Captain America – Civil War

  1. I enjoyed Batman/Superman but DC is nowhere near Marvel’s quality. I’m a Marvel fan at heart, but as I hit my teenage years and my comics interest waned considerably, along with Kurt Busiek leaving Marvel books and Joe Quesada taking over as Editor, I slid more to reading more DC.
    While I thought Civil War took a bit of time to get going, I agree it felt nowhere close to two and half hours once it got going. That leads to part of the DC films problem in that both of Snyders so far have seemed like it takes forever before they get going anywhere. We don’t need origin stories, we already know Batman and Superman’s backgrounds.
    As most others have talked about combine that with the dark tone and DC just seems to be spinning its wheels. And I’m talking about everything from story, characters to the lighting of the film! It works for Batman, especially Nolan’s films but you need to feel the wonder and power of the heroes, who are more gods than the everyman of Marvel heroes….

    Initial reaction and time for rethought puts Civil War maybe third or fourth of the Marvel Universe films(I’ve still never seen the first two Iron Mans and Incredible Hulk though). Winter Soldier has been the top one for me.
    I think as you pointed out they needed to explore more behind reasoning for the “Civil War,” the emotions put behind Stark’s decisions helped but just felt like it needed a little more to make this a better film.
    And I also agree, it should have been titled Captain America/Iron Man: Civll War. We spend a good chunk of the time with Tony, as he explores the loyalty and brotherhood themes with Rhodey…

    I hope they’ve got the right ingredients for the right Spider Man. Even though I’ve only seen the first Tobey Maguire Spider Man, I like it a lot and same with the first Garfield one. Maguire nailed Peter Parker’s nerdiness, Garfield didn’t. He was too cocky and cool for being Peter Parker, but that made him a better Spidey.
    Plus both of those two were in their late twenties when they played the role. I couldn’t believe Garfield was older than me when I found out…Tom Holland is an actual teenager and so far I think they’re on the right track with the right balance, though they could tone down his Spidey a hair…

  2. Nothing to add, really. I’ve seen all of Marvel’s own films except Ant-Man so I can’t comment on any other Spidey’s but, Aunt May apart, it felt right at that gut level. Good film. Marvel have got it sewn up at present: I wish I could say otherwise.

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