REVIEW - Captain America: Civil War

copyright Marvel Studios

First off, to answer the above question it's safe to say I'm Team Rogers over Team Stark.

Another midnight opening last night, so of course being a bigger Marvel fan than DC I had to go. Over the past few days I worked my way over the back-catalog in preparation for the new installment. That's because I'm a superfan, I've never found a need to be obsessive to enjoy the MCU, I just am. A good Marvel movie generally has the ability to pass as something else - a bond movie, a cop drama or something similar. Take out the "super" and it still works. In Civil War this is still true, starting out like any other heist/cop movie. The opening action sequence not only plays brilliantly but also showcases the character weaknesses that tent peg the plot. Wanda/Scarlet Witch has a fear of what her abilities do and the perception of them, Natasha/Black widow is more jaded and more of a "company man" and Cap is still tied to Bucky. The lay of the land is skillfully laid out without making you feel like it is being explained. In Stark's first scene (he's not part of the initial action, implying a division from the get go) you learn three things - the internal struggle from Iron Man 3 is still on going, the status of his life and work and an almost throw away comment that's the way in which he is going to interact with Spider-Man. This kind of multi-layered artistry is laced throughout the film.

Hints are laid, and slowly built on through the film as to the more finer points of the plot revelations in the final act. There are moments of levity and unexpected moments that (well if you're me) leave you feeling very much as gutted as the character it affects. 20 minutes in I was weeping, and I wasn't the only one. Cap and Tony's relationship plays out like a father and son differing on politics, which essentially it is. It's much more apparent here that they might be friendly but they aren't friends - Howard Stark was too much of a friend to Steve Rogers and Tony has too many Daddy issues for a good friendship. It's a much more patriarchal relationship than that. Unlike in Dawn of Justice, the reason for the "war" is much more intricate and multi-layered, and therefore much more realistic and believable. 

My major problem with Ultron was the lack of character development, it seemed like a section in time. In context that lack of depth works now, at least in the case of Tony. As part of his development in this movie he now opens up more about things he just hadn't shared before that have eaten at him. It's a theme, people aren't talking they're all in their own little worlds of pain, concentrating on the mission, closed off. Revelations as to motivations and emotions come to light to some characters at the same moment they do to us. Vision, this seemingly perfect being in Ultron gains "flaws" and he is as shaken by this discovery as anyone, but that in this seemingly close group of people it wasn't seen coming is one of many clues as to what it is like between movies. In retrospect the reveal about Clint Barton's family in Ultron should have given us a clue that the Avengers just didn't have those kind of relationships with each other. Brothers-in-arms they may be, and sure they would trust each other with their lives, but in terms of friendship, trust with secrets is just not there.Again, this adds more realism of crumbling of the Avengers' bonds.

In contrast, new comers Black Panther and Spider-Man are much more open people. Spider-Man we know, so perhaps it's not so much of a shock that we "get" him, but Panther is an unknown to most. By the end of the film that's changed, we know a chunk of his heart, his background and he goes on his own arc of self-development without any of those details feeling crow-barred in to another persons movie. . Wonder Woman in Dawn of Justice this certainly isn't! Without spoilering people who do not know his backstory, all I will say is he represents as a very interesting juxtaposition to the other two "leaders" of the film, much more aware of his responsibilities. In contrast to this the young teenage Peter Parker gives a nice little touch of the innocence and naivety of youth, which you can then see reflected in others.

I am too far in to judge if it works as a stand alone movie, but then so, I feel, are most of the people that might see this. In accepting that you'll understand the history of Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers, these two friends who (although they never go full cliché and say it) are each others family, that you know who Ironman is under the armour and know a pinch about all the other assorted Avengers, no time is wasted re-establishing those facts. Where it is done to bolster things essential to the plot, it's seamless. At no time are you wishing things would hurry the hell up. With some action movies the set pieces can seem to drag and you feel like you could go and make a cuppa and not miss a thing.

Little bits of nuance and fore-shadowing are still jumping at me as I process the film with the context of the other movies, which is great. Even as I'm proof reading this before posting I'm adding in little bits of "oh yeah there was that".There's no need for in-jokes or comic references to draw in the established fan, this is done by making you think "oh THATS what that was about" with some of the smaller little things. Only a few minutes ago, going over the ending in my head, I was reminded of Iron Man 2 and how it relates directly. In that way it's genius at playing to the fans. Movies like those, whose arc we thought closed, or those featuring absent avengers, have become part of these events. Also two credit scenes on this one, one closing a tale and another foreshadowing one of the upcoming movies.

Yeah, it's safe to say I loved it, I'm already plotting going again on my next day off. I'm more than ever Team Marvel. 

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