Ahhhhh. So THIS is what Batman V Superman was trying to do. It's amazing how Marvel could get something so very right when DC failed so goddamn miserably. It was as if Marvel Studios looked at the complete cluster-fuck that BvS was and said, "I think that we can do that, but better. Much better. Let's have our two main heroes fight each other, but we'll give them a good reason to butt heads. And we'll have a pretty easy-to-follow story too, instead of a shittily-edited mess of open plot holes and confusion. Oh, and when the heroes do battle each other, the fight should be interesting, fun, and utilize the supers' unique abilities, as well as the powers and strengths of their companions!"
And they did. And it was good. No, scratch that... It was pretty goddamn wonderful.
Captain America - Civil War is a strange entity. It is a packed-full story that is in fact Captain America 3, Iron Man 4, Avengers 3, Winter Soldier 2, Black Panther 1, and Spider-Man 1/2 all wrapped up in one pretty little package. It is absolutely amazing the amount of characters dropped in this thing (something like 12 supers, and 2 big villains), and NONE of their appearances felt rushed. They all had enough time to say what they needed to and do what they had to do. Even Ant-Man and Spider-Man — who have the least amount of screen-time — had enough given to them so as not to be merely gimmicks. There was never a point during the movie in which I felt that somebody got the shaft, or was only there in the role of a glorified cameo. I have no goddamn clue how they balanced this fucker out so well.
Okay, so Civil War is all about the rift that grows between the superheroes who form the Avengers. After multiple battles where so much collateral damage to civilians and property keeps racking up — stopping well-armed terrorists and psychopaths across the globe, and all that — the nations of the world are terrified of the power that the team represents, and so they tell the US (where the Avengers are based out of) to force the heroes to sign a treaty that says that they will only go into combat once the United Nations votes that they can. And also that they're not allowed to break things. Or accidentally kill people anymore. They should really know better, you know.
Tony Stank (the Iron Man) seems to like this idea, after witnessing so much death and destruction over his 8 years of being a superhero. He's tired of getting blamed for innocents dying, and he believes that passing that power (of when and where to act) off to the biggest wankfest gathering of bureaucrats in the world (the UN) is a sensible way to keep the Avengers in check.
Stevie Rogers (Cappy) sees what a bunch of malarkey the UN bill is. He understands that the UN voting to send in the Avengers to diffuse a situation will almost always be too late, and he wonders what'll happen if the team is needed someplace urgently, but the UN simply tells them "no." Knowing politicians, the bad guys would probably win and the Avengers would get blamed for everything, while the UN would look away and trip the Avengers as they tried to walk out the door with their heads down in shame.
The rest of the Avengers then have to make up their minds as to which side to take, and things get tricksier when the Winter Soldier (aka Bucky, Cap's old WWII brother from a different mother) reappears and blows up a big-ass bomb outside of where the UN Avengers-Neutering Bill is about to be signed. Cap doesn't believe that it's really his pal Bucky who did this terrorizing, but Tony and T'Challa (the crown prince of the African nation known as Wakandaland, who lost his father in the blast) don't care, and they do their best to hunt the renegade ex-Hydra assassin down. Cap does his best to keep his pal Bucky free in order to find out why somebody is framing him, and wackiness then ensues.
The battle lines are drawn, and what's left is a surprisingly tense and very involving psychological superhero movie that deals heavily with ideas of loss, betrayal, bureaucracy, revenge, and brotherhood. Beyond the whole "Avengers fight each other" spectacle (and my god is that battle at the German airport spectacular!), and Spider-Man and the Black Panther's introductions, Civil War's plot and emotional content is what makes it one of my top 3 favorite Marvel Studios movies so far. (FYI, only the super fun Avengers and Cap Amer - Winter Soldier rank higher.) The writers and the Russo Brothers (who directed) seemed to have a better understanding of how to make a grand crossover comic book movie work than even the minor deity known as Joss Whedon (who kinda flubbed Avengers - Age of Ultron). Thanks to both Civil War and Winter Soldier, I now have absolute complete faith in the upcoming Avengers 3 & 4 movies that the Russos will also be handling.
Now here are some of my thoughts on some slightly more SPOILERific aspects of this fine, fine film
Zemo... No, not an 80s wine cooler beloved by Bruce Willis (or was that Seagrams?), but instead a masked Nazi super-scientist with a baron title who loved to make life difficult for Cap and the Avengers in the comics, is actually just a nobody everyman in the Civil War movie. I would have had an issue with this change in the basic character background myself, but the role that he played in this flick was pretty goddamn sweet. After witnessing the Avengers fight hoards of intergalactic shock-troopers, Nazis, gods, and an army of psychotic robots, watching a normal man with a vengeance plan pull the squad apart was a pretty cool idea, and the Russos made it work, and made me applaud his final attack. The fact that Zemo killed the other Winter Soldiers and allowed for a nasty, brutal brawl based on the personal character arcs that had been building over the course of a dozen movies rather than a "FUCK YEAH! Punching and kicking and exploding generic bad guys!" was incredible. His speech of "I couldn't take them on physically... Stronger men have tried and failed" was beautiful, in a dark, evil way. I applauded the fact that the ending wasn't just a "Hey, I know we were fighting each other, but now there's a REAL bad guy here, and we should team up to take HIM down!" shitty generic "plot twist." *COUGH* Batman V Superman *COUGH COUGH*
I loved the action sequences! Especially Bucky going balls-out against the German SWAT team and the Black Panther. Holy shit! The Black Panther moved like a cat! The way he was able to keep up with the super soldier-ized Cap and Bucky makes me think that the Panther God of Wakandaland has indeed endowed the prince with some of its divine powers.
And I don't know why exactly, but the fact that Vision (an artificial super being created with a magical space stone, coated in the super-metal vibranium) wears sweater vests in his down time is simply fabulous!
Oh, and that scene with the 1980s de-aged Robert Downey Jr was amazing! They outdid the original Captain America in terms of taking an actor and completely reworking their face and body in a believable way with computers and magic and shit. I would have sworn that they just made a younger clone of RDJ for that scene... In fact I wish they had. That would mean an unending amount of Iron Man in my movies, with an unlimited amount of never aging RDJs!
I also really appreciated the fact that even though this movie was pretty heavy and strained most of the time, there were moments of levity throughout to keep you from getting an ulcer watching the boy in the Stars and Stripes throw down with his buddy in the iron mask. Now, they never went full-on wacky with this humor; they always kept the cast in character, and the playfulness in the script is usually just (never over the top) witty banter, or people breaking the tension that becomes almost (almost) too stressful. Falcon and Bucky in the Volkswagen, Ant-Man's help during the battle royale, and almost everything Spider-Man says are prime examples of how the guys who directed some of the best episodes of Arrested Development and Community know good comedy. And if you haven't seen Arrested Development or Community, then fuck you. You stuck-up prick. Go now and watch both shows in their entirety (well, skipping the Netflix-only season of AD, and the shitty season 4 of Community). Then come back and thank me.
Spoilers Essentially Over
Civil War is essentially the capstone for all the Marvel movies so far. It builds off of everything that has come before it — even The Incredible Hulk — and it even makes movies like Age of Ultron a bit better with its own editions and comments on what occurred earlier. Once again, this all leads to Marvel knocking another one out of the park, and me just sitting here textually jerking off over it.
One of the very few times I will agree with the Rossman about anything is how much I love superhero movies. Well, let me rephrase that. I mean I love the hunky, muscley, manly men in those movies. And you know that they always find a way to get the super-buff guys in them to take off their shirts or flex really intensely in a tight, tight T-shirt... I cannot get enough of that.
Which brings me to how the Rossman got me to join his group of loser theater-goers this time around... It turns out that he gets his retarded robot to sneak into my house when I'm at work and snoop around for things that he can use against me for future benefits. Well, this past week that mongoloid metal man found my little boinic boyfriend, if you will. Not that that's anything to be ashamed of, just that my toy is of an embarrassing motif, and the Rossman promised he'd tell the world if I didn't go with them to see all those biceps and pecs flexing on the screen with him and the rest of the dorky gang.
I don't know what it is, but I love it when superheroes beat the shit out of each other. Though I hate it when they beat the shit out of each other, but then makeup and fight the REAL bad guy in the end. That's why I love the living fucking hell out of this Captain America 3 movie! It's just like two and a half hours of good guys punching other good guys. Then you think that they make up, but then WHAMMO! Along comes a surprise that makes them want to play "Fisty-Face" again! Oh man, I can't recommend this thing enough!
In fact, I loved it so much that it made me want to see it in real life. So I tricked the Rossman, Robot Pedro, the Skipper, Angry Amy, the MegaPlayboy, Jimmy Jammer, Marksy, and some guy named "Tim" into becoming really good buddies. I took them all to the Sea Wench Pub and bought them all a couple dozen pitchers of Bud, got them all cozy with each other, and made them all think that they were all good pals.
Then I told Jimmy Jammer that it was the Rossman who took those pictures of Jimmy Jammer's mom and her dog and that jar of peanut butter and put them up on her Facebook page. Jimmy Jammer went full-on retard-strength Hulk-out! He started flipping tables, throwing pint glasses, and cursing like a dockside worker with tourettes! Then he took a swing at the Rossman... It totally missed by a mile, but he still swung! It was awesome!
I fully expected the group of drunks to split up into two teams and start an epic, evenly matched "special needs" war in the middle of the bar, but instead everybody else, even people not in our little group, started beating up on Jimmy Jammer. Hell, even I did. He just has a face you gotta punch, you know?