Forty Things I Loved About Captain America: Civil War – And The One Thing I Really Didn't (Semi-Spoilers)
Okay, so there are some spoilers here. Not major ones, and anything that might be a proper spoiler, or more a vague teaser. But don't go in reading this if you want to go in virgin-fresh with only a trailer in your mind…
This is what stayed with me. A jumble of thoughts splayed out in a random numerical order that attempts to impose order onto disorder. I saw Captain America; Civil War tonight courtesy of Disney, at the Empire cinema on Leicester Square, London.
1. Yes it's better than Batman V Superman by a considerable margin – but not on every level. And yes I liked BvS. But not as much as this.
2. Even though they have similar themes, they do things very differently. And, unlike BvS, much of the issues raised are a) not fully resolved or b) brushed under the carpet. Captain America; Civil War has to impact on Avengers: Infinity War in a way that Iron Man 3 and Winter Soldier really didn't on Age Of Ultron.
3. It is a much more satisfying film than Age Of Ultron, even as it dwells on much of that movie's plot and the effects on people globally, even more than it does the previous Captain America film, Winter Soldier. It deals with the consequences of actions, but doesn't skimp on character while addressing them.
4. It many ways, the movie is far better than the comic. The motivation of each character is clearly understood through the movie in a way the comic book repeatedly dropped the ball. And that includes their own uncertainties over the decisions that each have taken. Oh and no Clor.
5. Can we talk about Spider-Man yet? Spider-Man is great, easily the best on screen to date. And with Tom Holland, Kingston-Upon-Thames represents! All the best American superheroes are played by Brits, you know this by now.
6. His Spider-Man is a much more hand-made outfit. The one from the trailer? Tony Stark made that.
7. Tony Stark hits on Aunt May.
8. Spider-Man swears.
9. But for all that fun, and it really is fun, reminds me a lot of Sulu in the first JJ Abrams Star Trek, that infectious, child-like fun – there is also the realisation that, in recruiting Spider-Man to his side in the battle, Tony Stark – who reminds us in the movie that his shut down his naughty arms-dealing days – is engaging a child soldier to fight in his war.
10. Though to be fair, Wanda, on the other side isn't much older. And, hey, The Vision is the youngest of them all. But with Spider-Man – it comes across. And while I am #TeamIronMan it' the moment that those on Tony's side will pause and wonder what the hell is going on. It's not quite creating Clor or killing Goliath, but it's close.
11. People die in this film. Quite a lot of people. More than in Batman V Superman, frankly, if you take out the scenes from previous films. But not by Cap's hands. The other Avengers? Less fussy. And just like in BVS, the deaths haunt the actions of the living. and underline some of the morally questionable actions taken. But don't expect a Captain America #25 moment here. It's not that sort of Civil War.
12. Young Tony Stark works. And any deficiencies in the special effects work (I couldn't see any) are dealt with by the nature of the scene. Nicely foreshadows the end of the movie – far better than the actual plot does. More on that later.
13. Lagos. Vienna. London. Bucharest. The location words fill the screen like massive comic book captions. It's a cool look and gives this film a greater international feel than ever before.
14. We get to meet Redwing. But it's not what we might expect.
15. Tony Stark went to MIT here just like he used to in the comics before that got switched for unknown reasons recently to Cambridge. Blame Franklin. But it's a really interesting way for him to mix up duty and guilt. This is not a man at ease yet trying to convince everyone that he is nothing but.
16. There is a funeral scene but it is not Steve Rogers. It's Peggy Carter. Spoilers for anyone watching the show… oh and for some reason people seem to like SHIELD now, given the numbers of people who turn up to the passing of its founder.
17. I'm still not sure if it's okay for Steve to feel like that towards Peggy's granddaughter, Sharon. But I'm glad that's all out in the open now.
18. Did you like that stairwell fight scene in Daredevil Season 2? Well get ready for a much bigger, badder one that had the budget to actually rip up the stairs…
19. People talk about the big superhero airport fight scene, which is indeed epic. But I have a lot of love for the tunnel fight scene too, as we fully understand the relentless Rorschach-like mindset of the Black Panther. Constantly keeping ace – and getting ahead. And no better class distinction between how he an Captain America are addressed afterwards…
20. And yes, there is a lot of Black Panther. A regal warrior, driven without panic, just relentless in his pursuit. In or out the costume, he is seriousness personified, but made so by circumstances. Only towards the end to we see a more mellow side to his nature.
21. What we don't see enough of is the relation between the Panther and Everett Ross, but I guess they are saving that for the Black Panther movie. But Martin Freeman captures that mix of weaselly good nature from Christopher Priest's comics so very well.
22. Tony Stark, in the comics, is an alcoholic and has been portrayed as an addict. Here, it's all there, but he's addicted to being Iron Man. Which makes utter sense. But it also fuels his rationale – he i doing what has to be done, to prevent something worse from happening. Which is also, to himself, what would happen if he gave up Iron Man.
23. We get Spider-Man's origin in four words, described by the young Peter Parker as "when whatever happened, happened". That's even more concise than the opening page of All-Star Superman. Spider-Man also does the Uncle Ben summation in a different fashion, talking to Tony Stark, saying "when you can do what you do and you don't and then bad things happen, it's on you." Spider-Man may be on Stark's side but that's the same rationale Captain Amrica gives for not signing the Sorkovia papers.
24. We finally get to grips with the randomness of the "Avengers" name. Because the motivation throughout is about avenging. The deaths of father, of wives, of children, everyone wanting an eye of an aye and content with the concept that this may leave the whole world blind.
25. The 3D works best when people fall. And they fall a lot.
26. Captain America can hold back a helicopter.
27. Okay, let's talk about that airport superhero brawl. It is big, it is long, it's clever and, for the first time it puts a George Perez fight on the big screen. Lots of people involved in their own skirmishes, in the background, mid-ground and foreground, allowing you to follow the brawl of your choice. The Vision phases and condenses just like in the comic. And that Lego box scene does indeed take place. Oh yes and when Hawkeye shot Ant-Man it is, indeed, glorious. That's the thing, for all the violence and fury, much of it is spent in admiration of one fighter by another, which stops the furrowed brows.
28. Ant Man is also great here. Like Spider-Man, he is shocked to be a part of this, he is after all a big fan. And we do get to see that after-credit scene from Ant-Man play out a little longer.
29. There's no Thanos. But the gem still glows… and is addressed.
30. I said before, I'm on #TeamIronMan and by rights, everyone should be. Captain America's insistence on sticking by his friend, a proven repeat murderer and assassin, who still seems to be doing just that, while refusing any kind of oversight committee is nuts. Capt's gut instinct long shot solution is crazy and no sane man would contemplate it. But dammit it, Cap's right, even if he shouldn't be.
31. Two major scenes in this film revolve around Steve and Tony's parents. And while we don't get told that Tony's mother was called Martha, we do hear, Steve's mother's name being Sarah is rather important. But at no point does knowing the name of the other's mother stop them from hitting each other.
32. This is probably a suitable film for kids who like superhero films. It's dialled down on the violence notches from both Age Of Ultron and Winter Soldier and there is plenty of fun injected throughout.
33. Wanda looks good, in control of her powers, manofested as some kind of telekinetic field that can be manipulated how she chooses, portrayed in Scarlet bursts. no costume, no head frame, no need…
34. The Vision was done better in Age Of Ultron. He is still the one figure that is an enigma in motivation and action and as a result remains aloof from the audience and compatriots. There is a suggestion of a possible romance between Vision and Wanda – though events in this film may scupper that.
35. One of the aspects of the movie is super powered people going up against tech-based people, and gives convincing gameplay for how the superior Iron Man technology can be taken out by a guy with a magic shield that, as Spider-Man points out, refuses to obey the laws of physics.
36. While Civil War does portray spectacle, it doesn't come close to BVS's images of beauty, artistic portrayals and creations of world, this is far more perfunctory. But that does let them get on with telling an engaging story…
37. This film will be seen as an allegory for gun control. For personal freedoms. For privatisation But in the end, ideological issues between Captain America and Iron Man fade away, it all comes down to a very personal divide indeed. And about the desire to avenge vs the need for temperance. And need expressed by punching very hard.
38. Stan Lee does a Willie Lumpkin-ish cameo again, but may have one of the best lines in the film. And, because I am me, just as with mewlingquim.com and analcrumpet.com I have registered this one as well…
39. There are plenty of comic book creator credits as well as the Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby main credits along with the Stan Lee exec producer. They included, but are not limited to, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, David Michelenie and Mark Millar… I'm sure someone will have a complete list up soon.
40. I only saw one post credit scene in the movie, though I understand that there will be others on general release. And it ties the Winter Solider's fate in with Wakanda, which suggests at least a reference to the Bucky Popsicle in the Black Panther movie.
And the one thing I really didn't like? The plot rationale falls apart as badly as Skyfall. The final fight scene with the Cap/Winter/Iron Man fight only happens because Stark comes by himself to Siberia without the might of the US Army. Bruhl, the antagonist has no control over this action – yet it is crucial to his plan. While it may have been throw the dices and see where they land, at the end he is making precise plans without knowing the variables involved…
That's going to gnaw at me. But it's no where near enough to spoil this most entertaining superheroic slugfest.
Captain America: Civil War is released on April 29th in the UK and on May 6th in the USA.