“There’s always casualties in war. If there weren’t it wouldn’t be war; just a nasty argument with lot’s of pushing and shoving.”
– Arnold J. Rimmer
I never understood the term Civil War- sure, I know what it means but when I try to think about I just imagine a posh Victorian gentlemen shooting people and saying things like “Terribly sorry, old chap!” followed by a spot of tea and crumpets.
And that poorly constructed framing device leads us somewhat haphazardly into today’s review for Captain America: Civil War (Dir. Anthony & Joe Russo, 2016), a film about a nasty argument with lots of pushing and shoving.
Captain America the comic book character has never really interested me. I find that “Truth, Justice, ‘MURICA” type of character boring. It’s why I can’t get into Superman as a character either, I like my superheroes with an edge; or at the very least camp and witty. In contrast to that I have found that both of the previous films in the Cap trilogy, The First Avenger (2011) and The Winter Soldier (2014), have become my favourite superhero films that aren’t Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2.
Wait, hang on- does The Crow count as a superhero film?
Okay, the last two Captain America films have become my favourite superhero films that aren’t Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 or The Crow, and I’m happy to say that Civil War has continued that tradition.
The film is loosely based on Marvel comic series Civil War (Marc Millar & Steve McNiven, 2006-07), where after a superhuman-related catastrophe takes place a bill is introduced to make the Avengers and other masked super people government employees who can only be deployed after a committee decides it is appropriate. This splits the superhero community in two, with those who think they should be held accountable gathering behind Iron Man and those who think the Avengers work better when not crippled by bureaucracy gathering behind Cap.
The film is not a straight adaption, which I could imagine upsetting some hardcore comic fans, but I think it works in the film’s favour. Thematically the film and comics are similar with events and character’s changed to suit the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Hats off to Chris Evan’s for his portrayal of Cap throughout the series, I feel he has brought depth and intrigue to a somewhat bland character. Evans portrays Cap as an outsider, trying to be a good soldier, leader and role model whilst also struggling to find his own place in the world. In fact, I’d say performances were good all around: Robert Downey Jr. continues to be the living embodiment of Tony Stark, primary antagonist Daniel Bruhl manages to be both sinister and sympathetic in equal measure and series newcomer Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spiderman was a perfect balance of adorably-geeky and sharp-wittedness that has made the character a pop culture icon for so long (take notes Andrew Garfield!).
The action is both thrilling and engaging, each fight sequence becoming more intense as the film goes on. One thing I did like was that for the most part it avoids that action movie close-up/fast-cut type of editing where they’ve tried to hide the fact that the shots look a bit rubbish. I say for the most part because some of Black Widow’s (Scarlett Johanssen) fight sequences are like this, but it’s my understanding that most of the character’s moves in the MCU are achieved using wires and green screen whereas Johanssen does all of her own stunts unaided, so I’ll let it pass.
If I had to criticise the film for anything- and I DO have to criticise it, criticising getting me harder than your mum does- I would say that Cap’s motivation isn’t made entirely clear. I get from reading the comics that he feels like the Avengers work better as a sort of black ops unit and that letting the bureaucrats run it would halt them from deploying in an emergency, but maybe a scene where he describes this would have worked better rather than letting the viewer being confused what his exact problem is.
I also think it would have added to the drama if a main character had been killed off. A handful of minor characters die in the Civil War comic series, mostly at the hands of Marvel’s resident maniac The Punisher, and it really added to the idea of how pointless and destructive the in-fighting is. At one point I thought Cap was going to do Iron Man in. What a dark, intriguing twist that would have been!
And is anyone else curious as to why they made Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) sexy? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against cougars and I’m not ageist at all. I think older women can be very attractive. And in my experience older women are more interesting to talk to. They age like a fine whiskey; soulful with the tiniest hint of an edge that makes you crave a little more.
Captivating, enticing, forbidden…
Sorry, kind of got lost in the moment there.
Okay, so sexy Aunt May isn’t a negative really, it just struck me as a little odd but the MCU has made changes to iconic characters before that have worked out well. I suppose it promotes a healthy body image to have an attractive older woman on screen, flirting with Iron Man. A positive step over the constant stream of young dolly birds that gets shoved in our faces by the media everyday.
In conclusion, I would say that Captain America: Civil War is an entertaining film with engaging action that suffers with a touch of too-many-characters syndrome but just the right amount of story beats and intrigue to elevate it above most A-B Hollywood adventures. Don’t go in expecting ground-breaking storytelling but if you like action, adventure and hunky dudes in ill-fitting spandex then fun times will be had by all.
Today’s song is Nowhere by Therapy because I’m lazy and it just came up on my playlist. Plus when was the last time someone gave these guys a shout out? Therapy are fucking awesome.
‘Til next time, lovelies xx