Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We Agree-ish: Captain America: Civil War

2016, Russo Brothers (Community) -- cinema

I finally got to sorting through the boxes of comics I had pulled out of the closet, a year ago, with intention of dividing them into Keep and Go. Wow, I didn't know I bought so many Civil War issues, especially since it crossed over almost every Marvel title. And no, I didn't even have an inkling to start re-reading them, for I remember distinctly not enjoying them at all. But comic collecting always had a momentum to it, whether you were getting a good read or not. But, finally I stopped (probably no money) and before they did the whole Skrull reveal thing.

That knowledge of the comic story led me to wonder whether they would weave two key elements into the movie -- the aforementioned Skrull part, and the death of Captain America. I was OK with the lack of the former (Skrull analog was already used for the first Avengers movie), but I was sorely disappointed they didn't go with the latter. It would have been a great ending for the current age of Marvel movies. But, yes, I realize they have a vision (no, not him) for the coming movies and that does not fit into it. Alas, it would have been a great controversy. Better than Hydra Cap.

In case you don't know, the civil war is between half the Avengers and the other half of the Avengers. One half, led by a still traumatized Tony Stark supports oversight of all enhanced beings. The other side, led by the ever optimistic Captain America believes the Avengers will only be able to do what they do without any sort of control; self-oversight is how he sees it. But the world keeps on seeing them mixed up in very bad things.

This is the classic Doctor Who dillema -- are the bad things happening because the heroes are around (quoting Vision, "Our Very Strength Incites Challenge. Challenge Incites Conflict. And Conflict Breeds Catastrophe.") or would things be much much worse if the heroes were not. As has been the theme of a season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the world is afraid of all the emerging powers. And the world has to blame someone. Add new laws into this mix, and suddenly Tony has to arrest Cap.

The thing is, I kind of agree with Tony. In fact, it goes to show a lot of thought in the writing that we are torn between believing in either of the two. Super powered vigilantes or the only people with the power to protect us? I want to side wholeheartedly with Captain America but the problem is that not everyone has such a well stamped moral code like he does. The problem with the other side, and we see it escalate very quickly, is that people with less than stellar moral agendas will enforce that oversight. It's a lose lose situation.

I found myself deeply entrenched in this moral debate, the first third of the movie, but once the overly cartoony super heroics started onscreen, I fell out of it. The battle in Nigeria is incredibly vibrant full of the expected crunches enhanced strength allows. There was a bit wriggly, too-fast scene editing but you could feel the weight of the fight. Then that car chase scene. There is nothing I hate more than a running scene where the body is moving quicker than the movement of the feet. It looks like they are hanging from wires and being swooped along.  And those few scenes when a completely rubbery Black Panther jumps onto the screen. It is supposed to depict how lithe he is, but ends up feeling like a scene from Toy Story. They are supposed to be living action figures, but not literal ones. Still, once the battle at the airport happened, I forgave the FX crew.

In the end we have another decent spy story mixed in with a ensemble super hero action movie. So many characters, but one focused plot. The only real side plots are Tony setting up Spider-Man as his ace in the hole, and the entry of Wakanda and Black Panther into the Marvel cinematic universe.  The civil war may fade out by the end of the movie, but the Sokovia Accords are still in place, which should have interesting play out in which ever movie comes next, not including anything Thor/offworld based. If anything disappointed me, it was the whole Zemo reveal which was very anti-climactic considering how much effect it will have on the world.

Graig's take....