While The Fandom gave the latest Captain America glowing grades in our none-spoiler review, now we’re going to dive deep into why Civil War worked so marvelously (pun intended)! ***Note major spoilers ahead!***
I’ve seen Captain America twice in the last 72 hours, and to say I’m impressed by what the Russo brothers and Marvel produced is a ridiculous understatement. The movie certainty has flaws, but its strengths more than enough make up for them. Here, we’re going to analyze four of Civil War’s greatest attributes.
Number One: Emphatic Characters
Considering the godlike abilities of almost every man, woman, and teenager in this adaptation, it might seem natural to dehumanize the cast. How can a superhero capable of holding down an airborne helicopter or a billionaire and Einstein-level genius possibly relate to the challenges of a typical 9-5 worker? Yet every character feels entirely human. In Iron Man, we see Tony Stark reeling from the destructive cost of his hubris. We see Captain America desperate to hold on to the last thread connecting him to his one-hundred-year-old former life. We understand the regal rage of Black Panther at the death of his father, and the haunted weight of a mind-controlled soldier who remembers every kill his body was forced to commit. Plus, we finally meet a Spider-man who is truly still a teenager, but gifted with immeasurable power (while thankfully not forced to endure Uncle Ben’s over-used advice just yet). I could literally go through the entire cast, detailing how each had their own emotional arc distinct from all the rest.
Number Two: Timely Themes
In the same way each character felt realized and alive, the key points of dissension are incredibly relevant to our current culture. The rift between the Avengers boils down to liberty versus the need for oversight. Should the rights of individual choice be limited by government control? Or, conversely, at what point does the will of the many step in to ensure the dangers of unlimited freedom remain in check? In the movie, both ideas are given equal weight and are treated with dignity, and we leave understanding the reason we feel so deeply is because both sides hold truth, and both sides are flawed.
Beyond political themes, the concepts of friendship and loyalty are central to the story. At the end of the day, Captain America is a platonic love story between two best friends. One who was forced to do truly atrocious and near unforgivable acts of terror, and the other giving up everything to bring him back from the edge. Even beats that didn’t work, the forced kissed between Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers, are largely redeemed by both of Cap’s friends, Bucky and Falcon, beaming when he finally gets to kiss someone after eight decades.
Finally, the concept of rage and how it destroys the self is shown in Tony, the villain Zemo, and Black Panther. It’s the latter who is finally able to let it go before it consumes him, only to see Iron Man who has already given up everything (his girlfriend, his team, even his rights), finally be pushed too far when he discovers the Winter Soldier’s involvement in his parent’s death. As Steve Rogers tries to talk him down, we understand clearly why Stark won’t stop with one broken, haunted line, “He killed my mom.”
Every major theme in this movie resonates with the audience.
Number Three: Unmatched Fun
Make no mistake, this is not Marvel’s usual popcorn entertainment. From the first scene to the ending beat of the climax, the third Captain America installment is heavy. Both times that I saw it, halfway through the screening I found myself bordering on depressed. Sure, there were enough one-liners to add moments of levity, but sheesh, it was draining.
And then it happens, the most glorious twenty minutes of comic book cinema ever created. Seeing Captain America and Spider-man fight, and end by recognizing each other’s distinct New York accent- priceless. Watching Hawkeye try to introduce himself to Black Panther, only to receive a simple reply: ‘I don’t care,”- glorious. And come on, Paul Rudd saving Giant-Man as the last trump card, and Iron Man’s pitch perfect response to the forty-foot tall titan: “Ok. Anybody on our side hiding any shocking, or fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose, I’m open to suggestions,”- sweet angels take me home now.
Civil was was excellent cinema, but good grief did that scene inject not just a breathe of fresh air, but pure oxygen straight to our bloodstreams.
Number Four: Earned Consequence
In an earlier article, I predicted that one character needed/deserved to die to give the consequence of the conflict weight. We never get that, and yet I found myself strangely fine with that decision. I recently watched a post-interview with the writers, and they explained the reason they didn’t kill off a major character was it would have forced the Avengers back together. They instead wanted to leave the team fractured. Sure, the movie ends with both Captain America and Iron Man deescalating the conflict, but the sides are still irreconcilable. Vision and Scarlet Witch are not living awkwardly-and-happily-ever-after together. Half of the Avengers are now living on the run as fugitives, while the other half are bound by a governmental committee (I’m not sure which sounds more miserable). This will set up a great dynamic once the next big bad appears in Avengers: Infinity Wars, the near invincible Thanos. Sure, we know they’ll eventually get the band back together, but for this story, their ending positions make sense.
Plus, Captain America relinquishes his shield, for the perfect, because Tony’s dad built it two movies ago!
So there you have it, one man’s humble opinion on an excellent movie. But how about you? What parts resonated strongest for you? Let us know in the comments below, and keep it here for all your Marvelous Marvel news!