Captain America: Civil War (2016)

A review by Nalini Haynes

It’s Free Comic Book Day so, after visiting my local comic book shop for some free comics and one not-quite-so-cheap comic, the minion and I went to the Palace Cinema to watch a comic book movie. Apropos? Maybe. Maybe not.

Most of the Avengers team show up in Captain America so I’m not sure why he’s the titular character — other than he’s a bit of a tit in this movie.

In Slovenia some baddies are trying to steal a bioweapon so some of the Avengers rock up and save the day with bangs, whistles, rockets and splodeys. One of the baddies tries to blow Captain America (Chris Evans) to hell but new kid, the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) hurls the man with the bomb upwards where, at the last moment, he hurtles sideways into a building and takes out the corner of the building for about three floors. She’s devastated.

Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) gets all hurty on the Avengers’ asses. He shows them footage of the aliens invading New York while he blames the Avengers for the destruction and NO ONE REMINDS HIM THEY COULD HAVE LET THE ALIENS TAKE OVER THE PLANET.

He shows them footage from each of the previous movies and then of the Slovenia fight in this movie. No one reminds him why they were fighting or how a few lives were lost to save many more.

He demands they sign a treaty to which they’ve had no input and which will effectively tie their hands and make them slaves to a higher power.

Captain America decides he’d rather fight the Avengers than stick with them so he’s out. Plus his friend, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), is out murdering people again so good ol’ Cap has to save him from the authorities and those seeking revenge. Sounds legit.

The Avengers split into two groups: those supporting Captain America (because REASONS. Those reasons being Marvel wants to show DC how it’s done) and those supporting Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) who has suddenly become all moralistic and upholding of authority, champing at the bit to hand over his costume and his autonomy to the Powers That Be.

Seriously?

The Iron Man series has been going downhill but this movie may have killed Iron Man for me.

Anyhoo, the Avengers who show up for this movie split into two groups for an epic battle at the airport. And Spidey shows up. Wait, let’s rewind a few scenes.

The movie sheds its overly-long DC-esque melodrama bullshit and picks up when Iron Man (aka Tony Stank, not a typo) visits Spiderman (Tom Holland) to recruit him.

The penultimate portion of this movie is the airport Civil War fight. It’s heaps of fun and what we’ve come to expect from Marvel movies.

But wait, there’s more.

After the airport scene the movie has to find some ‘closure’ for the civil war. So, in true DC style (remember Marvel is emulating DC’s Batman vs Superman here) the movie goes back downhill, lays on melodrama and extremely thin plot with the puppet master’s strings more visible than in Thunderbirds.

I don’t recall Black Widow and the Scarlet Witch having a Bechdel-passing conversation so I think this movie fails the Bechdel Test.

On the upside, Civil War has quite a few people of color. I love Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) is pretty good too. The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is pretty scene-stealing in the pretty and the upstaging senses of that term.

The best part of Captain America: Civil War is the trailer for the Suicide Squad. It looks like DC saw Deadpool and said, ‘Dayum, that’s good. We can do that too.’ I hope the movie lives up to its trailer, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ soundtrack and all. The second-best part of Civil War is the airport fight scene.

Republican theology masquerades as a story premise: ‘the government is legislating away your freedoms to your detriment; look, THEY TOOK AWAY THE AVENGERS’ WEAPONS’. On the upside, the Winter Soldier was wrongfully accused of murder (like some alleged terrorists are wrongfully accused). Also, some good people who were trying to do the right thing had their rights and their freedoms taken away from them when they were imprisoned in an island fortress without a trial. Guantanamo, anyone?

Even with that, Civil War is too long, too melodramatic, the characters are broken (inconsistent with their previously established identities) and the plot is a disaster. If Marvel wanted that civil war fight, they should have respected their audiences enough to figure out a premise to get the Avengers to that point: it shouldn’t have been hard after their previous bickering but this was bloody stupid.

Deadpool‘s fabulous writers are notably absent from Civil War. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the writers of Civil War, may have worked on some successful movies before but Civil War makes me wonder if they’re burnt out, suffering from groupthink (‘we like this idea so it’s great’) or, perhaps, they’re suffering from Moffatitis (‘I’m so fabulous everyone will like this thing I took a day to scribble out’). There’s a time for the best teams to take a break to breathe new life, new material, into their relationships. Writing partnerships are no exception.

Between Captain America: Civil War and the trailer for the next Xmen movie (all stars, SFX, melodrama and no heart), I don’t know if I’ll watch much Marvel in the next few years. Except Deadpool. THAT I will re-watch — the minion is counting down the days until the bluray release so I will have no choice but to re-watch it — and I’m hanging out for the sequel. And Guardians of the Galaxy. ‘Hooked on a feeling’ still gets me Grooting to the music.

Marvel. The new DC. Long live GotG and Deadpool.

Rating: 3 stars
Suicide Squad trailer: 5 STARS 
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Mark Millar, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson

Captain America: Civil War — Captain America and Iron Man face off