Movie Review : Captain America - Civil War (2016)
Captain America: Civil War is the latest summer blockbuster from Marvel Comics and their parent company Disney in and endless list of comic book adaptations meant to take over mainstream cinema, squeeze double the money out of comic book nerds and squeeze money out of their children too. I like comic books. The lifelong novel reader in me believes they're overpriced, but I get their appeal. I just can't Marvel at the movies, guys. Why the fuck are film adaptations the yardstick of success for contemporary art anyway? I wanted to like Captain America: Civil War. I wanted it to be different, but it's every bit as flat, bloated and meaningless as the slew of pre-packaged, mass-produced superhero movies that came in recent years.
The story of Captain America: Civil War is quite convoluted and requires a certain level of involvement in Marvel's cinematographic cannon, so buckle up *. The movie opens with the Avengers battling an international terrorist in Lagos, Nigeria, which ends with Scarlet Witch (the otherwise interesting Elizabeth Olsen) inexplicably hurling the exploding bad guy into a building full of humanitarian workers **. Because of that AND the destruction of banana republic of Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the United Nations decide to legislate on the Avengers in order to minimize the destruction and number of lives lost during interventions.
Thought this was the plot of Captain America: Civil War? Of course it isn't. It merely is the backdrop. The main storyline of the movie actually involved Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his buddy from the other movie that I haven't seen who I only recognized because they referred to him as "the Winter Soldier." When he somehow decides to bomb a United Nations conference following the Nigeria fiasco, Rogers takes on himself to investigate and potentially clear the name of his buddy (at this point, I'd really suggest you watch Captain America: The Winter Soldiers), which Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is really against because it would tarnish their image internationally. Rogers doesn't understand that because he's an old, timeless fart. Shenanigans ensues. It's the best I can put it, really.
Now, remember a couple weeks ago when I slogged through Thor: the Dark World and wished upon a star for a livelier and more challenging superhero movie? How mistaken I was to put any hope in Captain America: Civil War. IT IS WRITTEN BY THE SAME TWO GUYS. It was bound to be the same kind of lifeless. Perhaps the most infuriating part of this movie is the fake-ass ethical dilemma that pits Captain America and Iron Man against one another, though. Rogers represents the traditional values of America and Stark is supposed to represent a more modern individualism, but it's Rogers that upsets the frail balance of international politics by trying to save ONE GUY's name. Not even is life, his NAME. Plus, Rogers and Stark are NOT REALLY in an idealistic deadlock. It was all orchestrated by some bad guy I didn't even understand the involvement of in the freakin' movie. Rogers and Stark were played by an villain, they did not REALLY disagree on anything.
Another thing that pissed me off is how flat and bloated the movie felt. I get it, Captain America: Civil War was meant for the big screen and since it turned a profit, Disney doesn't really care how it looks in your living room. It was meant to be "a sensory experience" and if you were dumb enough to miss it in theater it's not their problem. Great. Captain America: Civil War is a disposable experience for a disposable audience. It's not incompetent like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was, but aside from the final faceoff between Rogers and Stark, the narrative is flimsy and inconsequential. It's just jacked up with long, meaningless scenes of mass destruction interlaced with witty banter from a slew of superheroes I don't really have any relationship to. Just like so many other Marvel Comics adaptations, this feels processed and unloved. Captain America: Civil War just goes through the motion of what the target demographic is supposed to want. It reeks of marketing meetings and test audiences.
Making it in Hollywood might be a yardstick of success for contemporary artists, but the truth is that Hollywood needs comic books more than comic books need Hollywood. Movies like Captain America: Civil War are technically competent, but lack the magic the initial medium brought. It lacks any magic at all, to be honest. I'm through with Marvel movies. I'm going to vote with my money and stop feeding the beast because whoever decides to put these movies out obviously cares about my money more than it does about my enjoyment. It's horseshit. It's not going to get better anytime soon either. Look how many superhero movies are planned for the next five years. Have fun spending your hard-earned cash on movies like 2017's Female Lead Spider-Man Spin-Off or even better yet, 2019's Unknown Marvel Movie. Planning release dates before the movie is even written is a recipe for disaster. Down with this bullshit. Audiences deserve better.
* Who am I kidding? Half of you have probably stopped reading here and with good reason.
** Why would a doomsday virus be kept in freakin' Lagos, Nigeria is beyond me.