Okay, where do I even begin with this one? I suppose I should just get this little niggle off my chest… Ahem. I don’t think Captain America: Civil War is as good as everyone thinks it is! Okay, now that that’s out of the way, allow me to start my review properly.
Just when things were going so well for me with Ant-Man. I had my positive cap happily sat on the top of my head and then Captain America had to come along and knock it right off. Now, I don’t think this is in any form a bad film. But what I will say is it’s a shit adaption. Now, I can’t really go much into this without sounding like a massive hypocrite because Civil War is one of the few Marvel Comics I’ve read, meaning any other time Marvel Studios has diverted from the original content I haven’t batted an eye-lid because I’m either unaware or unable to comment having never read the source material. So suddenly now I have read the source material and the adaption isn’t the same I go ahead and moan.
I guess one of the major problems with Captain America: Civil War is the structure, which plays hell with the consistency of the narrative (similar to Avengers: Age of Ultron). However, this instalment is nowhere near as bad as the last Avengers film due to actually being really gripping in its engagement. But despite this I still have problems with the execution because it could’ve been a hell of a lot better. What’s made worse is how much this film makes Avengers: Age of Ultron look more and more useless as a concept, confirming it as a waste of space that barely added anything to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The only thing it did right was set-up this instalment, which begs the question as to why Captain America: Civil War couldn’t have been changed to Avengers: Civil War (or just Civil War). All you really needed to kick-start the events was The Avengers screwing up in their mission and causing the innocent to pay the consequence (so pretty much what happened at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron) and then you’d have no need for Avengers: Age of Ultron, with Phase Three starting with Captain America’s third film displaying the fallout.
I guess what I’m trying to say is the structure is all over the fucking place with these crossover events. Avengers Assemble clearly knew what it was doing with itself, and had a clear plan of action as to why and how each of the characters were needed within the narrative. Captain America knew of the Tesseract from fighting HYDRA in World War II, Iron Man is a technically genius, Bruce Banner was an expect in gamma radiation, and Thor was Loki’s adoptive brother (so that speaks for itself). The consecutive occasions (however) have been devoid of clear motivations, and even when Captain America: Civil War started to do things right it quickly dropped the ball.
The part that bugs me the most is the subtitle “Civil War”. Where is it? We don’t have a “Civil War” in this entire film, and instead a bunch of petty fights over some nonsense. If you were going to apply the events of Civil War to the Marvel Cinematic Universe then at least put some effort into it. Don’t cop-out and use it as a shitty backdrop for a massive character study session. So I guess I’m just really pissed that we didn’t actually get what it said on the tin. Don’t get me wrong, what we got was incredibly well done (for the most part) but I couldn’t help but watch thinking, “It’s not quite what I expected. It’s really lacking that extra oomph, that extra level of personal tension that makes the entire film feel like it’s a fallout caused by friendships clashing.”
I think the scenes that take these ideas the furthest are the ones at the end between Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, and Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. But as for the rest of the film, it’s just a petty squabble as to who signs a piece of paper. I guess that’s another thing it lacks, I good insensitive to cause friction. The film tries its best to declare that the United Nations want to control The Avengers, meaning they can no longer act independently, thus creating the clear divide of “should we be controlled or not?”
And for the most part this argument creates a good basis for conflict. Steve has clearly changed since his boy-scout days of simply following orders blindly. Now he acts on his own gut feeling, believing that his own actions are safer than the agendas of government officials. Tony, on the other-hand, has become the opposite, moving far away from his days of doing what he likes due to his overwhelming fear of his own actions and the constant consequences they hold. He believes now that they need to be put in-check to avoid any more collateral damage.
But it doesn’t go much further than that. Steve doesn’t go out of his way to make a statement and win back his freedom (thus causing a “Civil War” between the superhero community). It all just becomes a farce over the possession of Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, after he is accused of setting off a bomb at the Sokovia Accords conference, killing the king of Wakanda. Steve obviously wants to keep him safe because Bucky is his oldest friend, and his actions as The Winter Soldier were not his own but that of HYDRA’s. Tony, on the other-hand, is simply following orders, trying (in his own demented way) to keep The Avengers together.
There’s even a moment where Tony nearly convinces Steve to sign the papers but he just had to open his big egotistical mouth for one second too longer, thus declaring that Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch, was under house arrest due to being feared (elevated by her attempts to stop Crossbones but ultimately causing further chaos with her powers). I think this could’ve been enough to start the fight (obviously unable to follow the comics route of having the Accord be about revealing their identifies, to which the majority of the superheroes within the Marvel Cinematic Universe are publically known) but for some reason Marvel Studios just don’t go down that route.
Instead, we re-tread the same bollocks that Avengers: Age of Ultron did and have loads of convoluted stories going on that either don’t make sense or fall flat on their face. The film quickly moves away from concentrating on a potential “Civil War” to shine the light on Bucky, with his character being the beacon of conflict. At first it’s understandable, perhaps being the spark that pushes Steve over the edge to declare war on Tony and Thunderbolt Ross (who randomly [and without explanation] is now back on the scene). Heck, it even allows Black Panther to be incorporated neatly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe through his desire for vengeance against Bucky for supposedly killing his father.
But nothing goes anywhere. The concentration still remains on Bucky, to the point where it’s even elaborated to create another bullshit plotline which ultimately distracts the entire film from being about a fucking “Civil War”. Enter the most pointless villain within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Helmut Zemo. At first you have no fucking idea why he’s doing what he’s doing, and by the conclusion you’re still no closer to giving him sympathy because of all the shit he’s done. Basically, he wants revenge for the fact that Tony ultimately caused his family to die due to creating Ultron, and thus creates an elaborate scheme to cause The Avengers’ destruction by their own hands.
Please tell if this makes much sense. Because the HYDRA soldier won’t directly give him the information he requires he instead searches for Bucky, but to do this he must first flush him out. He does this by framing him, attacking the conference (killing lots of innocent people in the process) and forcing the United Nations to hunt him down. Anticipating that Steve would apprehend him first he’d eventually be taken in alive so that Helmut can get a chance to be with him alone (after killing the interrogator to impersonate him).
Timing this perfectly, his package is delivered at the same time to the power station to which his EMP goes off in order to shut down the power to the facility he’s within. He then proceeds to brainwash Bucky in order to get the information he desperately desires (yeah, that was just to get the means of destroying The Avengers, he hasn’t actually started the main plan yet). Helmut then travels to the HYDRA base Bucky was kept in order to apparently use the other Winter Soldiers (that we’d never heard of, but fuck it, their important to this plot so who gives a shit!)
But, as it turns out, he didn’t want The Winter Soldiers (making their reveal absolutely fucking pointless [making me even wonder why the fuck they were included into the plot in the fucking first place!]) but instead a tape that just so happens to show the death of Tony’s parents at the hands of Bucky. That was his big plan. To show Tony a tape that would make him try and kill Bucky, thus making Steve defend him and them two start a fight to the death.
Plus, he calculates it so perfectly that both Steve and Tony will show up at the HYDRA base together (despite the fact he went to all the trouble to increase the power the Sokovia Accords held so that Tony had less authority to do shit, and made it almost impossible for anyone to realise what his scheme actually was, meaning Tony may not have even discovered his plans in the first place to realise Steve was right all along and needed to follow him).
Some would argue that he’s the greatest villain within the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far because he’s actually done what all the other supervillains could not, and that’s defeat The Avengers. But, like I just clearly explained, his plan is just a bunch of convenience that fails to have any logical sense, making him the most retarded. Plus, how can I understand the pain of a clear mad-man? He’s killed innocent people in order to gain vengeance on the fact innocent people were killed by The Avengers. Hypocrisy much?!
So, yeah, I didn’t pay to sit through a film about the most bollocks set of circumstances that just happen to bring about the end of Steve and Tony’s friendship (which obviously won’t last long because Avengers: Infinity War comes out next year  and they’ll need to kiss and make-up just in time to fight Thanos) and instead came to see a fucking “Civil War”!
I suppose there are a few really good points within this entire wasted opportunity. For starters, I liked how one of the major aspects that pushed Steve to not sign the Accords was the death of Agent Peggy Carter and the words she left behind, speaking about “standing for what you believe in.” Of course the comparison of her battle against sexism perfectly matched his current situation of controlling his own agenda within the war against villainy. So in honour of his first love he goes forward with his determination to do what he deems is right.
Of course one can’t deny that the airport scene is the best part of the whole damn film. It’s utterly fucking amazing seeing that many heroes onscreen! We’ve got Captain America, Iron Man, The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, War Machine, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Ant-Man, and mother-fucking Spider-Man. Yes, Marvel Studios have gone and done it, they now have Spider-Man! Oh, happy days!! Although the contract between them and Sony Pictures is a little confusing (with Amy Pascal changing her story every fucking day for that matter) but still, we have him fighting alongside The Avengers where he belongs.
I think it’s great how Captain America: Civil War took the time out to give him this proper introduction, and it’s done rather interestingly. We’re told that he’s been active for 6 months, operating as a street-level hero (similar to The Defenders) and has now caught the attention of Tony who enlists him to help him bring in Steve. Automatically, you realise Marvel Studios is doing the smart thing by skipping all the usual mumbo-jumbo that we’ve seen in both Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man and just cut straight to the chase, giving us a nice little “show don’t tell” situation which gives you all the information you need, allowing him to quickly spread his wings and incorporate himself with all the other characters like he’s always been there.
And, honestly, Tom Holland was amazing as Spider-Man, really bringing about that innocent nerd-vibe as he constantly got excited around the other heroes, constantly getting distracted like a naïve teenager would. He incorporates all the elements you’d expect to see from Spider-Man, thus bringing about this young, fresh, and uniquely different take on the character, granting us the perfect teaser for his solo-outing, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The ending of the film where Steve and Tony clash is also spectacular to watch as you feel like this moment has been building up since Iron Man. It’s been a long time coming and it’s made even funnier by the fact that their first encounter with each other in Avengers Assemble only added to the fire by having the other’s opinion shift their individual persona’s, making Steve more independent with his thoughts, whilst Tony became more wary of his actions.
It’s an intense moment, sparked by a difficult dilemma. Who do you side with in this situation? Without a doubt, this fight sequence is personal and is structured perfectly in order to bring this chaotic film to an explosive conclusion. It’s just really disappointing that the bar wasn’t this high throughout the entire film.
What Captain America: Civil War lacked throughout was a clear trajectory, as well as missing the point of what Civil War stood for. Heck, the most impressive scene in the entire film, i.e. the airport fight sequence, lacked any real tension because it never felt like Team Cap and Team Iron Man were at war with one another, instead having a petty playground fight over who’s right and who’s wrong. The only time the tension is slightly elevated is when War Machine is accidentally shot down by Vision (but he doesn’t die, which is another minus to the gritty tone the film was supposedly going for).
Clearly the film needed more time to be worked out, allowing the script to become more focused on what it needed to be on instead of straying all over the place and fucking around with half-bake ideas, along with making characters inconsistent again due to their random inclusion because “why not?” I can imagine a lot of you are probably hating me right now. Ready to finally seal the deal with that long-awaited noose, but if I could just say one last thing before the drums stop and the trap-door opens, “You surely must’ve read my review and than done a double-take on the film due to a slimmer of doubt telling you that I might just have a point.”
I’m not asking you to hate the film (heck, I sure don’t, it’s simply an annoying flick to endure because I want to love it so bad but the rest of my brain is telling me to hate it – thus becoming a conflicting narrative for all the wrong reasons) but just try to realise that it’s not as critically acclaimed as most people made it out to be. It has very clear flaws, and perhaps you might even agree it could’ve been better. Either-way, in my eyes, this was less of a “Civil War” and more of a farce that just alluded to greater things (made worse by the fact that Spider-Man’s appearance was the best part of this fucking supposed game-changing instalment).