Captain America 3 is more like Avengers 2.5, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe becomes truly a running narrative because of it…
Steve Rogers, leading the Avengers, continues to cause chaos across the world in a noble cause to stop terrorism, but powers that be have had enough. Spearheaded by Tony Stark, a new initiative is set up to keep heroes in check so no more innocent lives are lost in the crossfire. But this causes further strife between the two men as Rogers tracks down his brainwashed friend Bucky Barnes, who is still being used as the assassin Winter Soldier by shadowy forces…
After Captain America: The Winter Soldier whipped up audiences and critics alike into a state of euphoria, Civil War has a lot to live up to. So is it surprising that the sequel falls a little short?
Winter Soldier was a welcome change of pace and a change of tone, bringing the character into the modern world with a sense of urgency and political clout. Civil War by comparison is one part thriller and another part playset romp where all fifteen action figures are hurled about. When everything is said and done, and the dust settles, Civil War felt alarmingly vacuous.
We have seen Marvel heroes fighting each other before, we’ve seen it a lot. Ever since Thor’s hammer struck Cap’s shield in Avengers Assemble, the franchise has indulged in the clashing and harmony of super powers. Civil War isn’t driven by a theme or even a tone, in fact the only theme is quite literally “heroes get to fight each other”, and there’s a certain vagueness around motivations and morals of characters. Did Stark really just hire a high school student to go to war?? Did Falcon really know how to find Scott Lang? Did Hawkeye just… come out of retirement? Why? Did Bucky really just fall back into the amnesia assassin story again?
But having a theme about fighting isn’t always bad. Hell no!
The airport fight that the trailer teases, is so much fun. It had me laughing aloud in giddy, childish enthusiasm. Here we have ten superheroes from across the last two phases of the MCU punching each others lights out, but the star of the scene is Marvel’s own interpretation of Spider-man. When the fight starts with Spidey asking Stark: “So what do I do now Mr Stark?” you know things are going to get ridiculously fun. If it weren’t for this particular battle, Civil War would have been a colossal downer both in tone and execution.
As great as Spider-man is in this fight, and as interesting as newcomer Black Panther is, both men feel shoehorned into the film. Peter Parker’s introduction (as good as it is) virtually stalls the movie! It genuinely feels tacked on, perhaps due to Sony eventually giving up the rights to the character during Civil War‘s initial production phase, likely pushing Black Panther’s screentime to accommodate the web slinger.
The battle sequence that opens the film between Avengers and Crossbones (alias of a bit part player in Winter Soldier, who no one will remember, nor need to remember) has some of the worst shaky cam in recent memory. Not sure how critics are ignoring this. While a highway chase later on, which is a foot race, looks laughably fake.
Ultimately, if you are keeping up with the Marvel movie narrative you will take more from this movie. Personally, I am putting my foot down to say that this continuous narrative device is getting tiresome. Civil War does not work as a singular film, it works as a hub connecting multiple movies from the past as well as numerous future projects together, but that isn’t what I am looking for in a film.
It is a fun movie (the dialogue is just as snappy as always) and it proves that the Russo Brothers can direct something as massive as the upcoming Marvel’s Infinity War two parter with confidence. But it didn’t feel like there was enough at stake, especially when everything is said and done; the ending felt really anticlimactic. It is a poor follow on from the concise Winter Soldier, but is perhaps the best Avengers film since 2012’s Assemble.
Additional Marshmallows: Hey Marvel, your heroes really don’t get along… How about giving them a good villain (or a team of villains) to fight and actually have gravitas and motivation without the need to restore the status quo every single time?