Captain America: Civil War has released to almost unanimous positive reception from critics and much hype from fans, which always makes it fun to be in the minority with an opinion. That’s exactly where I am: in the great minority as I disagree with the reception the movie has got.
While it may be a wonderful time to be alive to see movies like this, it’s an unfortunate reality that because of rampant fanboyism you have to be careful and make sure to ‘state your allegiances’ and whatever would-be agendas you have before offering any sort of opinion on anything.
Here would be my credentials and disclaimers as is necessary.
My favourite heroes are Batman and Spider-Man, so I genuinely love both Marvel and DC. I don’t care about choosing either. Before watching the Civil War movie I rewatched my two favourite Marvel films, namely the original Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I also happened to read the entire Civil War comic event. That’s about 106 issues of pure Marvel madness if you’re not a comic book reader. I thought it was so damn good it made my head spin for days digesting it and reflecting fondly over it.
Yes, I may have written a defence piece over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on my blog, and that’s because I thought critics were unfairly harsh on it and biased given that many of their complaints could directly apply to Avengers: Age of Ultron, a movie I intensely dislike. After watching Civil War I’m pretty much certain that there’s a bias going on.
The last disclaimer I’ll make before getting into this is that I reviewed games for over five years, so I know exactly how to put my hype aside and just experience something with an open mind before getting an opinion on it. I don’t go into these lovable comic book movies with any checklists of what they need to do to be good or with a negative attitude. I simply walk in, drink my Slush Puppy, watch it and then get an opinion.
Historically I’ve had my moments in the extreme minority, but as both the Civil War comic and movie suggests: even if the entire world tells you to move, you plant yourself like a tree and say no, you move.
Massive SPOILER warning. If you haven’t watched Civil War yet please do not read the following bullet points. I will be discussing every element of the movie that I had an issue with, and pretty much spoiling everything. Save yourself.
Are we ready to discuss Civil War? Awesome! I will do it in bullet point form because of the freedom that gives, and so I don’t end up with a 5000 word article which I’m very capable of doing if no one snaps my neck in time.
Everything Wrong With Civil Cop Out
- Captain America: Civil Cop Out. That’s the name I’m going with. Every chance the movie had to go all the way, namely with Crossbones’ Civil War comic-esque ‘Allahuakbar’ moment, the Rhodes Must Fall opportunity and the ending, it copped out and retreated from risk. Even Rhodes’ paralysis is automatically soothed with cyborg legs.
- I certainly didn’t expect the level of darkness present in the comics to be in a Marvel film, but this film took no risks at all, had zero shock factor and made zero attempts to shake up the formula. It’s not meant to be a bitter sweet, optimistic-ending, bro-out story. It’s meant to be the sad fall of heroes and the emotional wreckage they leave behind.
- The movie barely felt about the registration act, which is the core point of conflict in the comic. It was not a battle of ideology. There was nothing to chew on or think about after viewing. Very few actual good points were made from either side after the heroes’ initial discussion about the accords. This central conflict took a backseat.
- As a result the central conflict is muddled and watered down. The Sokovia Accords never really feel like the core part of the movie. We don’t see the destructive force Iron Man becomes in his arrogance and through his freedom to act publicly due to being registered. We don’t see the heartbreaking end of friendships. The war itself is transient and lasts for a shorter time than Ultron’s supposed ‘Age’.
- There was no evidence of what the public thought of their champions. No input from street level. No evidence of a world really gone to hell. It was extremely self-contained. Batman v Superman, flawed as it is, still spent quite some time with the public’s reactions and their polarising opinions towards Superman. It felt like the people were to a little extent involved in and paying attention to the conflict. Civil War badly missed that.
- The retroactive obsession with Sokovia is jarring as hell. In Age of Ultron the Avengers evacuated the city and visibly saved everyone who was in any on-screen danger. That gave the sense, along with the ending, that the good guys won, no casualties were suffered and nobody minds. Yet apparently lots of people died and it’s a big deal now. But when Man of Steel actually showed you the death and destruction without censoring it or misleading you, and then built its sequel entirely about that, it’s suddenly too real and dark and there are tears about 9/11 imagery?
- Whoever decided it was a good idea to plaster big, obnoxious power point white text over the screen to inform us of the locations every few minutes, and rip you out of the movie in the process, deserves to be shot.
- Someone please kill The Falcon A.K.A Clarence from 8 Mile. He is literally Tyrese from The Fast and the Furious franchise at this point.
- Just like in Age of Ultron romance seems to brew from absolutely nowhere between Rogers and Sharon. Then Marvel heroes do what they do best and send their women off-screen while they take care of business. That isn’t any pro-feminist viewpoint. It’s just a funny thing by now.
- Hardly anything in the opening hour is memorable or provocative aside from the heroes discussing the Sokovia Accords, which was great, and Black Panter’s first, amazing appearance.
- The movie is tonally confused. When Rhodes is almost killed there is time for a joke about Falcon. One moment we’re all cheering about Spider-Man entering the fight and having a laugh, and literally a minute later Stark is close to tears arguing with Cap. Another moment like this comes at the end of the final fight where Stark berates Rogers with “You don’t deserve the shield”, yet two minutes later Stark is reading a heart-warming message from Steve like he’s just a friend who quit the job.
- I don’t mind genuine witty humour, everybody likes a laugh, but it really felt like some of it was terribly placed in this movie and completely diffused any tension or emotional weight that was getting built up.
- The main action setpiece at the airport is over-hyped. Spider-Man, Black Panther and Ant-Man absolutely stole the scenes they were in and made up the awesome moments there, but the fight really lacked tension, involvement from the other characters or an epic scale at all.
- Black Widow did a Spidey-esque (in the comics) switch between sides except with none of the substance behind the change.
- There’s so much manufactured conflict. There’s basically a Lex Luthor-like villain called Zemo behind the heroes fighting it out. Right down to the uncontrollable monsters he creates, except in a bit of a twist he kills them before they get out. How different though is his convoluted plan to lure Tony to see the true death of his parents – assuming Steve already knew this whole truth and kept it a secret – and make him fight his friends versus Lex Luthor pushing Batman to kill Superman?
- Many times the movie doesn’t feel like it has organic conflict. A big example is Stark’s parents, who no one has given a flying duck about or known about even in the solo Iron Man movies. In Civil War it just so happens that they were killed by the mindless husk that was The Winter Soldier, and this gets Stark and Rogers fighting again minutes after they literally decide to call a truce and be friends again.
- The ending is by far the biggest cop out and the most disappointing area of the movie for me. Stark and Rogers ending on an uplifting, positive note was a cringe-worthy decision. I didn’t exactly expect Rogers to get gunned down like in the comics. I also get that Infinity War is coming, but it’s a two part movie so surely Thanos could be the catalyst to unite the torn-apart heroes under one banner again? That’s what I was hoping to see. Friendships destroyed and a fall of heroes at the end. Left to rue the mess they made like in the comics. Civil War was too afraid to shake up anything in the MCU other than the Avengers as an official team being over, which we saw when the movie was first announced.
- Captain America spends literally the entire movie fighting to defend his pal Bucky only for the after-credits scene to cryogenically freeze The Winter Soldier (some irony there) because his fragile mind is dangerous. It cheapens the fight for him and made little sense as an after-credits scene to begin with as it seems like it should be part of the movie.
- Civil War the comic has so much meat to chew on your head will spin for days after reading it. I’m not saying the movie needs anywhere near that level of complexity – it would need two movies for that – but I don’t even need to watch this again. Everybody seems fine. I’m not concerned with anyone’s fate. I don’t have any lingering debates to iron out regarding the conflict. I’m not torn between anyone’s perspectives, or inclined to mull over them. I doubt I missed anything a second viewing would clear up.
- This was the worst Stan Lee cameo out of a growing list of irritating ones.
I won’t end this without praising the real MVPs of the movie, that being Spider-Man, Black Panther and Ant-Man. They were absolutely golden. They were beautiful. They were literally the reasons I had huge smiles on my face in this movie and ended up giving it a higher rating than I would have if they had been absent. My true Spider-Man is back. He is glorious.
At the end of the day, for the record, I don’t think Civil War is a bad movie. Maybe it seems that way because this was literally a list of my issues with it, but it’s really nowhere near as bad as Avengers: Age of Ultron. I simply think it’s alright. It’s above average. It won’t break any of my top 5 lists of best superhero movies. It’s a 6/10 for me if I have to be forced into providing a numbered rating to go with it. I have little desire to see it again in theatres, but I don’t necessarily regret watching it to be honest.
If you love it, hate it or want to assassinate me for this opinion that’s your call. Live and be free. Your opinion is your own. I would love to hear from anyone. I’m always happy to talk in a civil (get it?) manner.
I’m just very disappointed being a major fan of the comic as well as the Russo brothers’ previous work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.