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Monday, May 16, 2016

Shawn Reviews Captain America: Civil War

I went to see Captain America: Civil War this weekend. And I’d have to say it’s the best Marvel Studios film to date. Captain America: Civil War brings a Marvel comic to life in an action packed film that does not disappoint. Just like a great oldschool comic, Captain America Civil War leaves the viewer counting down the days anticipating the next film.  

Watching Captain America: Civil War it’s clear to me that Marvel Studios learned their lessons from the clunky and uneven Avengers: Age of Ultron. Cinematically Captain America Civil War has a slower pace, tighter story, easier to follow visual effects and much better character development. Instead of trying to cram 200 issues of comics into one film, Marvel Studios tells one story set in a cinematic universe of superheroes. This storytelling approach makes the film easier to watch and a much more enjoyable movie experience.   

What did I love about this film? The fact that Marvel studios wasn’t afraid to take risks. Instead of adapting the dreary, depressing and divisive Civil War story from the Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios decides go in a different direction for its cinematic universe. While the story crafted for the screen was original it captured the spirit of Classic Marvel comics from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and made it fresh for 21st Century viewers. Because Captain America Civil War is NOT an adaptation of a comic, it tells fresh exciting story filled with twists turns and surprises. Just when you think you have this movie figured out, it’ll throw you a curveball.

I really liked the story in this film, it evoked memories of 2004’s The Incredibles. Just like that film, mankind fears the violence and destruction that The Avengers participate in when they stop the bad guys. So they propose the Slovenia Accords to control The Avengers. Tony wracked with guilt from the creation of Ultron is for it, While Captain America is against it. The conflict is about the ideals and values of superheroes until it gets personal for both Tony and Cap.

However, what makes Captain America: Civil War compelling is the fact that it’s humans not superhumans that are the greatest danger to the Marvel Cinematic Earth. Like Syndrome in The Incredibles, Men like Tony Stark, Thunderbolt Ross and Helmut Zemo show us that but ordinary people who lose control of themselves are more dangerous than any super villian. And in their quest to try to get control over situations beyond their control they wind up crossing moral and ethical lines without regard to the cost of the lives and livelihoods of others. And the damage they do to intangibles like trust and integrity actually do more damage to society than all the death and destruction they do in any of the epic battles in Civil War.

It’ll be interesting to see how all of this is reconciled over the next few Marvel Studios movies. Does Tony work towards reclaiming the trust of his friends? Or does he keep making compromises to his core values that send him into a bottle? I’m thinking Infinity War makes the world realize how much worse things can be without the Avengers there to protect them.

Another thing I liked about this film is how humanized the characters are. There’s a lot of subtlety and nuance to the characters in this story and a lot of depth and dimension on them. No one is perfect in this story, and no one makes easy decisions. Viewers really see how tough it is to be a superhero and the how they have to deal with the consequences of their actions. In this story you come to understand sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t end up with a happily ever after like in the comic books, but a hero has to do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do. No major characters die, but you truly see the human cost of the war between both sides in this story.

The writing on this film is rock solid and the characterizations spot on. All the old characters act just like their comic book counterparts, but the new ones stand out prominently. Black Panther is a BOSS onscreen. His adapted origin is changed quite a bit, but when he’s onscreen he commands the screen. Chadwick Boseman disappears into the character and brings him to life with regalness, nobility and intelligence. If there’s a Black Panther Movie coming, I’ll be first in line to see it. Boseman will carry that one to number one at the box office easily.  

Spider-Man’s story is different too, but still great. Even though Aunt May is now a MILF, this is the best adaptation of Spider-Man to ever come to film. This is the awkward, geeky kid we all grew up reading in the comics struggling to find out what kind of hero he wants to be. Spidey steals almost every scene he’s in. I love the fact that he’s a great contrast to the more seasoned and experienced heroes and in awe of them. I can’t wait to see more of him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The fight scenes are absolutely spectacular in this film. The battles are big and look and feel like a comic book come to life. The scenes of Cap fighting Crossbones in the inciting incident looked like they were was ripped from a 1989 Mark Gruenwald Keiron Dwyer comic. And a scene of Cap and the Falcon in the bar looked like a panel taken from a 1970s comic. There’s a scene of Iron Man firing repulsors at Cap holding his shield taken straight from a cover of Civil War comics, and the battle at the airport evokes the big rubble filled battles John Byrne and George Perez used to draw at Marvel. I never thought we’d live in an age where a comic book can come to life, but here we are.  

I only have a couple of gripes about this movie The first is that Negro woman who pulled the guilt trip on Tony Stark at MIT. That scene pretty much reinforced a stereotype about fat Black single moms. The fact that she stated she was a government HR worker who came all the way to an MIT use shaming tactics on Tony and emasculate him was a scene that really annoyed me. With all the positive portayals of Black men in this film, this was the one that made me say to myself:

Damn. Just Damn.

 I know Marvel desperately needs diversity in its superhero movies, but did we really need the Skrong Independent Black woman coming into a movie and using the superpower of her big mouth? That scene needed to be rewritten or just cut out of the movie altogether. I’d rather have a scene of pre Spectrum Monica Rambeau talking to Stark than the mammy they stuck in that scene.

The second gripe is about the inconsistently invincible Iron Man. In the Avengers: Iron Man Mark 6 can take on Thor and Captain America in a fight, and in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hulkbuster is shown beating up the Hulk, but Mark 46 which is more advanced than both the Mark 44 and Mark 6 is getting wrecked beyond repair by the far less powerful Captain America and Winter Soldier in the final battle. Seriously, Stark needs to get on his quality control. Right now the older Mark 6 looks stronger than ANY of his more advanced upgrade suits onscreen.

The final gripe is the handling of Zemo. Yeah, The Russos were trying to show that a mere man was able to manipulate superheroes like puppets on a string and get them to fight each other. And that he was a villain that used a more subtle psychological approach to achieve his means. But his story kind of got lost because he was so behind the scenes. I get the fact that his subtlety was a contrast to all the dynamic superheroes onscreen, but I’d like to see a villain I’d love to hate in a Marvel Studios movie again. The last great villain who had a good time while he was kicking superhero ass was Loki, and that was years ago. Marvel needs another villain we love to hate in their movies and they need him NOW.

Captain America: Civil War is the must see movie of the year. To truly appreciate it you have to go see it on the big screen at your local movie theater. I highly recommend you go out and see this one, you will definitely enjoy it.


  1. "I know Marvel desperately needs diversity in its superhero movies, but did we really need the Skrong Independent Black woman coming into a movie and using the superpower of her big mouth?"

    LOL Shawn, gotta admit this made me chuckle aloud at work. I never really saw it that way, but now that you've pointed it out, it's definitely a little irritating. I was VERY pleased with the depictions of strong, masculine black men in this movie (Black Panther stole the show), but now I'm a little worried about the roles Black women might play in the Panther movie.

    Male superheroes today tend to be paired up with equally strong female counterparts that don't need to be treated like damsels in distress. This is a good thing. But in the case of the Panther movie, I really hope he isn't paired up with some loudmouth Black woman that cannot stand his regality and makes it her mission to take him down a few pegs. Ugh.

  2. I remember listening to a podcast one time, and one of the podcasts mentioned that in Marvel phase two they should have The Red Skull show up at the end to start recruiting villains for a Masters of Evil. Replace Red Skull, with Baron Zemo, and I think that idea would still work, maybe for Marvel phase three.

  3. Shawn, the Black female guard was sexy as hell.!

    She stole that entire scene in 3 seconds. Awesome. I hope we see more of her.

    As for thr Black women chin checking Stark, that was fine.

    They used the moral authority of a Black mother to make a point. Dont think mammy. Think Rosa Parks or Shirley Chisolm.