Are We Still Friends?
Earth’s Most Numerous Instances of Things Happening™
© 2008 – 2019 Marvel Studios Inc.
Donut Prison Blues
a kindly review of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War
by David Clemmer
I am, at this moment, going to tell you what happened to you. You were sitting in, like, a big room with a bunch of comfyish chairs shoveling bad food into your mouth, and you and all the other people in the big room were staring at lights organizing themselves to represent moving pictures on a big wall at the other end of the room. Before the really long moving picture, you watched a bunch of really short moving pictures that gave little exciting glimpses of long moving pictures that are coming out in the future. One of them caught your interest: Captain America and Iron Man punching each other, and oh, there is Spider Man; there he is.
You said to yourself, I am going to see this movie.
Am I creeping you out yet? That’s fine. Go to sleep.
You said that to yourself—or maybe to someone else in the big room with chairs, whether you knew them or not—because you like superhero movies. Or, specifically, the milestones of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because, by this point, you’re aboard the Marvel train and you’re going to the end of the line with the rest of us.
Worry not, friends: Marvel didn’t start sucking, by any means. If you liked the previous Marvel movies, you shall like this one. So, if that’s all you need, I’ll just be on my way.
Well, unless you want to hear why it’s going to go down as just another Marvel movie.
I am not that comic-savvy. If it hasn’t been made into a movie, or wasn’t printed on the back of the Marvel trading card series that came out in 1994, I know little to dick about it. Civil War is actually an exception; I read it because my roommates at the time were reading it. Some shit goes down in that series. A school full of kids gets blown up. Lesser Marvel heroes straight-up kill other lesser Marvel heroes. And, at least in appearance, a major Marvel hero gets murdered. Pro-registration dudes let all the fucking villains out to fight the anti-registration dudes. It’s a mess.
The Civil War movie doesn’t take such risks. In fact, it kinda doesn’t take many risks at all. Nay, holster thy typing fingers, fair message-board ranters. It’s really not all that upsetting that your beloved superheroes don’t negligently blow up a bunch of children in a movie owned by Disney.
‘Messrs. Russo, I am sure you are aware already that I am displeased with your “CONTRIBUTION” to the Marvel continuity. But prepare for my 42-page invective treatise on everything you did wrong! Excelsior!’
Civil War suffers from the same cluttering problem as Age of Ultron. Too many Things Happening™. From the trailer you know about the fight scene at the airport, and that should be a huge indicator for you that things are going to get messy. That’s more heroes than Age of Ultron, and for a much more convoluted reason.
The airport scene, I should say, is fun. Ant Man does cool stuff, Spider Man is—as the internet joins me in thunderous chorus—the best cinematic depiction of the character, Black Panther is cool. That scene, however, is more than shoehorned into the movie. It has squirmed down the movie’s throat, lain glistening eggs in the movie’s belly, and the young has burst through the movie’s chest. Everything leading up to that scene, and everything that came after, was tonally more like Winter Soldier, then you get an Avengers Assemble-ish fight-fuck full of one-liners. Marvel has proven that it can do both rather well, but facehugging an Avengersy scene into a Winter Soldiery story felt like an uncomfortable switch-up.
Although not that uncomfortable. It was funky, but it didn’t tarnish the movie irrevocably.
In fact, nothing does. Though the pacing is bloated and the focus of the narrative warrants several question marks after the words Captain America in the film’s title, the movie still does some things right. And for that, I’m going to go to our Spoilerville correspondent, whose section will be enclosed between awkward pictures of the 1970s Captain America. After the second picture of awkward Cap, you’ll know you’re spoiler-safe!
Here, gaze upon the face of Captain America in the depths of an LSD nightmare.
The biggest thing they did right as actually a thing they didn’t do. Let’s hop into our oversized cardboard box and time-travel back to a simpler time:
‘The problem was that the filmmakers, like a bunch of sycophantic amateurs, couldn’t pull away from the trope of [hero] fights [hero] until [actual bad thing] happens and then they join forces…’
That doesn’t happen in Civil War. It’s great. To be clear, there’s a villain in this movie. It’s Helmut Zemo, played by the smarmy actor/movie buff/sniper/Nazi guy from Inglourious Basterds. (Daniel Brühl, his name is.) But, and, spoilers, he’s not really a villain. He’s a villain, but a) he’s not a supervillain, per se, b) he isn’t evil, per se, and c) the titular civil war isn’t the product of Zemo manipulating the Avengers with lies and deceit. Instead, it’s the product of something that might have happened even if Zemo didn’t come along.
This gave the central characters the room to grow into their sides of the conflict, develop, and come somewhat naturally to the violent resolution. (It’s like the filmmakers knew how to do the whole setup/payoff thing. You know, *ahem*, not like Batman Vee Superman: Fuck You, Audience!) And, honestly, that conflict was pretty conflicty and sidesy. At the end of the movie I still wasn’t sure which side I would’ve been on. For a movie that features previously-established and relatable heroes fighting each other, that’s a pretty good move on Marvel’s part.
Anyway, I suppose Spoilerville is Done-smuir. That was a terrible pun and I should just—
The title of this photograph is ‘Missile Crisis.’
Cool and interesting facets aside, glaring tonal shifts aside, the culmination of this installment is… Well, I guess Infinity War has to start from a place of disharmony among the Avengers, huh? Though the actual experience of watching the movie is a fun punch-fest where superheroes do their superhero thing and they don’t try to disguise the fact that superhero movies are, indeed, about weird-costumed weird people punching each other, the movie looks a little transitional in the rear-view. Like First Avenger and Thor, Civil War is a bridge between the last centerpiece film and the next. It doesn’t mean that the movie is unwatchable, nor does it mean it’s unwatchable as a standalone, or out of context for those who haven’t seen all the other movies. But what this film lacks, outside of the airport fight scene, is identity.
It’s a direct sequel to Winter Soldier, with Avengers stuff thrown in to pad it out.
Exciting prospects, though. I’m excited for the solo Black Panther and Spider Man movies, for the possible Black Widow movie—because this movie certainly didn’t give us enough of any of those characters. And, if the purpose of Civil War was only to set us up for future movies, then I have to say it worked because I’m excited for those too. For example, the end of Civil War ends with (spoilers again!) some characters in a big donut prison in the middle of the ocean. I’m excited to see them break out.
So, yeah. Some cool stuff, ultimately pretty okay. Not bad that when Marvel misses, they still make something decent.
But again, if you’re aboard the Marvel Cinematic Universe train, you’re going to hit all the stops anyway. At this point, we have to, right? Even if they do start making bad movies, and we all want to raze Marvel Studios to the ground by the time Infinity War 1 comes out, you bet your ass that said ass will be in a theater seat to watch Infinity War 2. We all went to see all three of those Star Wars prequels; we’ll see this MCU thing to the end if it starts to vomit on itself.
I don’t think it will, though. Disney has shown on multiple fronts that it knows how to produce a good movie—probably with dark, untold formulas that trick and cajole the philistine mind.
Welp. Haven’t used a .gif in a while.
684/878 punches directly to the face and body
33.5/43 superpeople hurled by other superpeople into heavy metal objects without concussion or other serious injury
2/3 British actors doing really good American accents, one of which is Martin Freeman, which just doesn’t feel right
1/1 Volkswagon Bug full of your bros, nodding with approval