An odd thing happened to me watching Captain America: Civil War. I went from being Team Cap in the source material to Team Stark – almost immediately and that opinion did not change once – ever during the entire movie. Major Spoilers Alert for this film ahead:
In the fantastic comic event series, Marvel’s Civil War brings about the idea of policing the globe’s superheroes and making them register and enlist into the government, therefore revealing their secret identities in the process etc. This comes about due to a colossal fuck-up involving a relatively idiotic younger super-team fighting some villains with the end result being several civilian casualties. Enough was enough essentially, so Tony Stark, Mr. Fantastic, and a bunch of other dudes go along with SHIELD to enforce this process where superheroes need to register as a police type force to avoid vigilantism.
Captain America denies this motion, along with some other buddies (including Daredevil – who would’ve been a fantastic addition to the film now that there are two seasons on Netflix – but oh well). The reasoning behind Cap’s hesitation is that it violates his freedoms as an American – and I totally get that. Whose to say that the head honchos behind his missions wouldn’t have ulterior motives themselves? Who watches the Watchmen right?
In the comic books, I was utterly behind Captain America and his pals. Iron Man and his team of enforcers, including Spider-Man, who shockingly revealed his identity to the world in the comics as Peter Parker for the first time, come off like greedy corporate dickbags. They even go so far as to clone Thor for some reason, and psycho clone Thor winds up murdering one of Cap’s teammates. Shit gets serious from that point forward and the Avengers become fractured forever after Tony and his cronies go too far to battle back against Cap and his freedom fighters.
Now, in the film, why did I side with Iron Man? It’s because Steve Rogers aka Cap, comes across like a psychopath whose only priority involves saving his best friend Bucky aka The Winter Soldier. Now, repeatedly in this film Captain America: Civil War, evidence mounts against Bucky which directly ties him to terrorist events as civilian casualties pile up. Cap still refuses to sign the initiative, even after over 20 innocent bystanders are murdered when The Scarlet Witch propels exploding Crossbones through a fucking building in the opening scene. Cap feels sorrow but his reasoning is that “well, few died but we saved many” – he doesn’t hesitate once to maybe even consider that he needs to be restrained in his globe-trotting efforts to stop villains. Dude – they just played a highlight reel showing hundreds and hundreds of dead people while you were punching aliens and evil robots in the face and jumping off cars – with people in them… Rogers doesn’t even blink – he knows Bucky is innocent so he continues to put everyone at risk around him in an effort to prove that the murders aren’t The Winter Soldier’s fault.
You could argue that Tony is worse because he created Ultron and well – you know how that turned out, but Stark is directly feeling the guilt in the aftermath of those films and he realizes that being above the law is not without sometimes fatal consequences. I sympathize with Stark in the film, Robert Downey Jr’s glorious performance coupled with the way they peel back the layers of his character makes him far more sympathetic than in the comics. I also feel for his reasoning behind wanting to keep the Avengers in check with the new laws and obligations to the UN – everything seems very reasonable. But Cap – he’s too busy trying to dropkick motherfuckers through a window to save his brainwashed robot friend who he’s not even sure is mentally all there anymore. It could be an issue in tone, and maybe it’s that core Bucky/Cap relationship in the film that sours my feelings towards Rogers in the movie, because that wasn’t an issue in the comic…
I was Team Iron Man the whole way through Captain America: Civil War. Even though I know – I KNOW – that Bucky wasn’t in the right frame of mind when he was MURDERING TONY STARK’S PARENTS – I still feel like there has to be some consequences right? No? Oh it’s OK, he wasn’t himself that day, it’s alright dude, you killed my mom but “go freedom” you weren’t you — were you? It’s bullshit. Tony Stark for me, was the hero in a Captain America movie and it’s odd, because plot-wise, the film isn’t all that different from the comic, but the way the movie handles the tone here makes it feel that way. From Chris Evans’ American Psycho-esque performance with his dead eyes, to this odd goofiness that doesn’t seem to fade from the fights until the VERY end showdown… The tone was strange. Why was everyone so jokey during the team battle at the airport? I felt like I was watching practice but at any second a dude could die.
Oh wait there’s Spider-Man for no reason other than our studio just bought him so let’s edit him into the movie in what feels like the most blatant cash-grab non-creative decision in Marvel Studios’ history. Was Spider-Man fun? Hell yeah – but there’s no fucking reason he needed to be in this movie. At all. They could edit out his scenes and it would make ZERO difference to the plot. ZERO. In the source material it made sense, in the film it was tacked on – HARD – even harder than some of the brutal Justice League cameos in Batman V. Superman.
Look – I thought Captain America: Civil War was awesome. Pure spectacle, the action all looked and felt REAL, which was a huge step up from the more cartoonish moments in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It may have helped excluding Hulk and Thor, because the fights in Civil War all looked very gritty and none came across as overly fake – even when I knew they of course had to be. Giant Man? Spider-Man? So much CGI – the credits show like 400 VFX companies – so I get it. But they did a good job here making me believe in the action – this movie handled it better than any other Marvel Studios project to date (ASIDE from Daredevil, which I consider their greatest achievement creatively so far).
I’m just surprised that a few little changes in tone, performance and character made me change my opinion so drastically from book to movie. We are talking about fighting for freedom of speech here and I was right the fuck against it – hard – and that’s because I still think Rogers comes off like a nut for most of this movie. I’ve never been much of a Captain America fan, but I at least sympathized with his character in every other movie… Until now. Grow up Steve, get married to Bucky and live happily ever after with him in his freeze tube over there in Wakanda.
PS: The Black Panther was awesome and he carried a purpose throughout the movie whereas Spider-Man was simply there for the hell of it.