Captain America: Civil War

Spoilers will be below the break. Don’t pass that point if you don’t want them.

So, I literally, just now walked in the door from my showing of Captain America: Civil War. So, as this is above the break, here’s my spoiler-free thoughts.

First, the movie was great. If you liked the last few films from Marvel, and in particular The Winter Soldier (Cap’s last solo outing), you’ll like this one too. Especially if you liked Winter Soldier. That knife’s edge it walked, of tension, humor, lightheartedness and seriousness? Civil War walks it as well. Even better, personally.

Cinematography was great, especially for the fights. Yes, there was a little shaky-cam in the opening that had me a little worried, but it turns out to be a stylistic choice only for that portion of the movie. The rest of the film is clear and concise with its camera work. The music? Also pretty good. It didn’t do a great job sticking in my head the way Winter Soldier‘s theme did, but at the same time there was nothing dead about it either. It complimented the on-screen visuals and emotions pretty well.

The film honestly does a great job with its storytelling—better, in fact, than the last Avengers film (Age of Ultron). Ultron had its moments, and it was grand, but there was a faint sense that things were moving to fast, that parts of the story were whizzing along at a pace that was just a little to much for the rest of the film. Which, to be fair, isn’t hard to understand. Ultron dealt with what, almost a dozen characters and plotlines, bringing them together into one big collision?

Well, Civil War shows that Marvel has taken lessons from what did and didn’t work with Ultron, and the results are excellent. This is actually a complicated story—moreso than the trailers would ever lead you to believe, but I never got the sense that anything was being rushed. Instead, the story flowed from point to point incredibly organically. Maybe it’s just that the movie clicked with my storytelling style, but Marvel did a great job taking a bunch of different plot threads and weaving them together tighter and tighter until you go “Aha! So that’s what’s going on!” And there were several such moments in the film, judging by the noise from the audience. Marvel’s learned from Ultron, and what it did wrong, Civil War does right

But with that … there are a few caveats. First is that for a Captain America film … it’s really Avengers 3. Some might disagree with me, but for a film that’s under the name of Cap himself … a lot of time is spent on all the other members of the team.

Is this a bad thing? Well, no, and like I said, they handle it masterfully. But by about fifteen minutes into the movie, I did find myself wondering “Is this a Captain America movie? Or an Iron Man movie? Oh wait, maybe it’s Avengers.”

You still get a lot of Cap, don’t get me wrong. And like I said, the movie isn’t bad. But don’t expect to just see Cap’s angle of this story. In fact, I’ll be curious to see what the results are when someone breaks down the screentime of each character.

And that plays into my other caveat: Marvel’s films should not be digested standalone, and Civil War is moreso that than any other film so far. Seeing Civil War without watching the rest of the Marvel film mythos at this point would be like watching Return of the Jedi first: you’d be left with a lot of character development and plot threads being tied up that you didn’t even get.

Watching Civil War at this point without having watched the prior films would be similar. You’d be out in the cold on a lot of what’s come before. Sure, you’ll enjoy the fights and the spectacle, but a lot of the interaction between characters would be empty without those prior experiences. If you’re not the type who has watched the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe, either wait until Civil War is out on DVD or go catch up. Otherwise, you’re going to walk out of the movie thinking that it was all action and no real story or character. That, or be that person in the audience who asks everyone around them questions most of the audience already knows because they did see the other films.

Right, that’s my two cents. Awesome, but definitely deeply into the Marvel lore. Now, for spoilers.

Oh, one last note. Despite what the internet claims (at least as of my showing), there is an after-the-credits scene, so stay in your seat, okay? Wait until the very end.

Spoiler thoughts below the break:

So, you don’t care about spoilers.

So, the big fight between the two sides of the Avengers (this is, after all, titled Civil War)?

Awesome.

No, seriously. It’s a wreck the building, knock-em-down rumble that leaves an entire airport in shambles, and it is glorious. And a little gut-wrenching, since it’s friend against friend. But it’s still awesome. Almost everyone from the prior movies is there, squaring off in one big, climactic fight, and it’s worth every minute.

And yes, we have Spiderman. Holy smokes do we have Spiderman.

One of my friends commentated during the introduction of the character that Tony Stark’s snarky comments seemed to be pretty good at picking apart Sony’s handling of the brand. Regardless of whether or not that was true, I will say this: This newest incarnation of Spiderman, once again in Marvel’s hands? Blows the prior appearances out of the water.

Look, I enjoyed the old films (well, the first two … the third’s kind of infamous). They were fun. But seeing Spiderman in Civil War, leaping around and never shutting up, was great. The actor nails the role in a way that the prior versions didn’t seem to. Not that they weren’t fun, but I think when its all over, this new Spiderman is going to come out on top. It just … nails it. Perfectly. Excitement, comebacks … the works.

Of course, he’s not the only new hero to make a showing in this movie. No, at long last Wakanda, after being hinted at since The First Avenger has stepped out of the shadows. Black Panther is here, and he is awesome. The actor nailed it.

Now, to be fair, I’ve not read many comics, and never been too familiar with Panther’s character, so maybe the movie is wildly off-base. But you know what? I don’t care. Panther was awesome. The suit, the fighting style, the character’s own struggles and pursuit of vengeance … it’s all awesome. And, like Spiderman, he’s getting a film. Excellent! I’ll see it.

Not that that’s a tough admission. At this point, I’ll see anything from Marvel Studios. Crud, I’d even watch a movie about a talking tree—Oh wait … they did that. Well played, Marvel. Well played. But yeah, I loved Panther’s bit in the story and his character, and am looking forward to seeing how his story continues forward in the greater universe.

Let’s see … Stan Lee. Of course he’s there, and it’s great.

I’m amazed no one had the mind to call out the Secretary of State when he accused the Avengers of mishandling and losing Bruce Banner (Hulk). After all, it’s the general who lost Hulk multiple times, and in the process “accidentally” created Abomination. Pot calling the kettle black, there, buddy.

Everything from the prior films coming back to haunt them was a great way to approach things, I think, because it centers the film around an uncomfortable truth—you can’t save everyone 100% of the time—and then asks the question of who should be blamed for that lack of a 100% win rate. It paints a bit of a jarringly accurate parallel with the real world once again, where one side is fixated on the one person that couldn’t be saved, while the other is trying to defend themselves by saying “But we saved the other nine” while not understanding why they are to blame for the actions of the perpetrator who killed the one. Honestly, I think it’s going to make some viewers uncomfortable, because the issues the film raises are very real ones we see in the world today, and it looks at both sides of things pretty fairly. The final lines though, the way it all ends out? Great.

So, no more spoilers. Ultimately … if you’re a fan of where Marvel’s been, go see this one.

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