For too long, I’ve been sick of superhero films feeding me the same inherent good triumphs evil trope. Superheroes are glorified through ethos while villains are debased and stripped of their humanity. The films which transcend this obtuse formula are few and far between. The Dark Knight is to be treasured and X-Men: Days Of Future Past holds its own. And notice how the two films spin a larger narrative behind the capes and masks. For one, this film has loads of that. Death claw, red capes, red skin, webbed suit, vibranium black…cats claws, redwing and star-spangled shield…these are a few of the extra things. Civil War’s action galore is a treat and cameos somehow seem to fit in very perfectly, but the movie’s greatest achievement was investing in as many characters as it could. And for once, The Avengers tears away the suited armour to reveal all that makes and breaks a man.
With this film, I finally start to see where The Avengers might be heading. Interesting fact: Other than Scarlet Witch and to some degree The Vision, all the other characters are basically human beneath. Sure Capt has been genetically modified. And Bucky’s gone through some hell. But it doesn’t take a genius to notice that the Avengers Universe is consciously grounding itself in the everyman. The human side, it’s flaws and imperfections and moral contradictions…all of this is only really fleshed out in this film. I’m not complaining but damn did it take a long time. I’m impressed with how the movie made almost every character significant in some way. Their paths crossed with lots of action and drama but their individual growth was just as powerful. The Russo Brothers and writers have created a film that Batman V Superman could only hope to be.
Packing in the occasional joke and trifle, Civil War is still a film that means serious business. Iron-Man’s surprising support for government intervention whilst Capt America’s strong stance for freedom may sound polarizing but you’ll realize the film isn’t asking you to pick a favourite. At the heart of the fight, The Winter Soldier is often a point of contention. Even though I found the character the least layered, he often puts the others in difficult positions which offers greater depth in characterization. It gets even more impactful because there is no actual villain in the film – Yes, I felt just as much sympathy for one as I did with another.
With moments like Ant-Man’s OMG moment, Spidey’s light-hearted and humourous cameos and sparks of intimacy between two heroes who are still figuring out their own identity, Civil War is just adequately scented with enough chill moments to balance the severity of its themes. Falcon’s quip to Spiderman ‘I don’t think you know what you’re doing. There isn’t usually this much talking during a fight.’ reminds us that Marvel is always the funniest. Vision’s perplexed reaction to a ‘pinch’ of paprika while reading a recipe is a quirky and yet ironic moment given his supposed ‘know-it-all’ nature. And don’t think for a second that Vision is simply AI re-imagined with a consciousness. Even he begins a transformation of his own.
The throbbing action belies a world of conflicted natures. And it’s interesting to see how the cracks in consistency start to occur. The heroes start to vascillate within their own moral spheres; Each one affected by a unique circumstance. While Capt’s idealistic vision for autonomous control is to be desired, the world is far from the utopia that he envisions it to be. And freedom has its bloody price. I personally find Tony Stark’s support for democratic oversight and accountability noble (for a rebel like him too!), yet the film makes it harder for us to distinguish the boundaries between the polar opposites.
In the end, I’m fascinated with how the film never gives in to glorifying its heroes. It also never wants to reconcile their wounds with easy resolutions. There is finally a real feeling that not only are our heroes extremely flawed, but a sense of futility and consequence replaces easy catharsis; A rare superhero film that comes to terms with lasting scars. Overall, Captain America:Civil War an extremely entertaining watch with more for you to think than most of its ilk. I didn’t expect it so it was a really nice surprise 🙂