Far back in the mists of time I named Marvel’s 2006 series Civil War as one of my all time favourite comics which was proof enough for many of you that I was a fool and a scoundrel whose opinion on comics wasn’t worth a soiled back issue of Youngblood. It’s a controversial story, no doubt, and while I probably wouldn’t keep it on my Top Ten list if I was to do another, I stand by what I said about it before. It was a new kind of comic event, one where right and wrong wasn’t clear cut and black and white and which had a real, lasting effect on the status quo. Comics are a very conservative medium. Sooner or later, everything goes back to how it was before. No one stays dead, the bad guys always lose, the good guys aways win. In a word, they’re safe. Mark Millar, who wrote Civil War, has been accused of many things over the course of his career…
…but being safe has never been one of them.
The story kicks off with a young superhero team called the New Warriors trying to catch a group of supervillains as part of their reality TV show (hey 2o06, how ya been?). Turns out one of the supervillains is a dude called Nitro whose power is that he explodes. Which he does, killing most of the Warriors as well as a nearby school. “The Stamford Massacre” causes a massive sea change in American public opinion and swift legislative action from the federal government in exactly the same way that real life school massacres don’t. The superhero community is given an ultimatum: Either give up their secret identities, submit to training and register and work as a paid employee of the US government or give up being a superhero. This splits the superhero community right down the middle. Iron Man supports registration, seeing as any alternative would likely be much more draconian. But Captain America sees it as massive government overreach, like if the only way you could intervene in a mugging was if you were a cop. So right there we have a conflict that’s really fascinating and multi-faceted. Both sides have perfectly valid concerns and points of view. Personal liberty versus the greater good. The desire for security versus the rights of the individual. Heady stuff. Aaaand then Mark Millar kinda turned Tony Stark into a Nazi because it was a Marvel event and SOMEBODY has to turn into a Nazi in these things.
I love Civil War…
Let me clarify that, I love Civil War the comic, but it’s got big problems, the most glaring being that it undermines its own unique premise by having the pro-reg side resort to increasingly extreme and amoral methods and making Iron Man and Mr Fantastic into outright villains. But there’s more good than bad and I think its reputation has risen quite a but in the years since it was published, not least because virtually all the events Marvel has done since form an elegant, unbroken chain of perfectly formed turds.
In the MCU, the Captain America series was the natural home for a movie version of the Civil War story, especially since Winter Soldier had already touched on its themes of government overreach and the War on Terror’s intrusion on personal privacy and liberty. Winter Soldier was a high-watermark for Marvel critically, and with the Russo brothers back directing, the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (both previous Cap movies and Agent Carter) and Chris Evans returning to sling the shield you’d think that Cap 3 would be about a safe a bet as a movie could be. But it nearly all went terribly, terribly wrong thanks to Marvel’s other civil war which was just now coming to a head. The head of Marvel studios, Kevin Feige, had been butting heads since the start of the MCU with the CEO of Marvel comics, Ike Perlmutter.
Perlmutter is, by all accounts, about as pleasant to deal with as a scorpion in your anal cavity. Miserly to a Scroogian degree and a rather nasty racist (if you ever wondered why Don Cheadle was chosen to replace Terrence Howard it’s because Perlmutter thought they looked exactly the same. Yeah.) He’s also an alleged war criminal and I say “alleged” because I don’t want him to sue me. And for no other reason. Things came to a head when Perlmutter told Feige that this Robert Downey Jnr kid was costing too much money and that they should fire him.
Feige went directly to Disney who re-organised Marvel studios so that Perlmutter was completely cut out of all decisions involving Marvel’s films. And so Perlmutter was defeated and left with nothing but his incredibly lucrative job, his billions of dollars and the immense power that comes with being part of Donald Trump’s inner circle (come one, you knew this guy was friends with Trump as soon as I described him). It’s probably just a coincidence that Marvel’s notoriously racist CEO was kicked off the film lot right before Marvel released “the blackest Marvel movie ever” but it’s pretty sweet nonetheless. But is the movie? Let’s take a look.
So it’s 1991 and Bucky Barnes (Sebastien Stan), the Winter Soldier is awoken from cryosleep and has to sip strapped to a chair while a shady military agent recites random Russian code words to him until his programming kicks in.
Bucky is sent to America to kill somebody and bring back some bags of blue goop, which he dutifully does. Fast forward to the present and in Lagos, Nigeria, the Avengers are looking for Brock Rumlo (Frank Grillo). Sorry, did I say Lagos? I meant of course LAGOS because the movie does this thing where any new location is announced, not by a small unobtrusive subtitle, but by big white letters that take up most of the screen. It’s actually a really visually distinctive touch and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dig it a lot.
So the team in LAGOS is the same one that was formed at the end of Age of Ultron, Captain America, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, the Vision and of course, fan favourite D-Man.
Sam tracks Rumlo’s crew with Redwing, who in this continuity is not a majestic falcon, prince of the sky, with a telepathic link to Sam but just an automated drone because apparently America isn’t “ready” for a brother who can talk to birds post-racial society my ass. Rumlo and his goons attack a centre for infectious disease control and steal several samples of deadly viruses. The Avengers chase them into a crowded market place and Cap beats Rumlo who taunts him by telling him how Bucky remembered him before he was brainwashed. Rumlo then blows himself up but the explosion is caught in a forcefield by Wanda tries to launch it into the air to protect the nearby crowd but instead ends up destroying several floors of a nearby building. With several floors worth of people inside.
Meanwhile, in MASSACHUSETTS, Tony Stark is giving a demonstration of his new technology, the Binary Augmented Retro Framing (gotta work on that acronym). He shows the students a digital representation of his last time with his parents, right before they were killed in a car accident. To help him overcome his trauma, he’s altered the memory so that his younger self (a rather scarily good CGI effect) actually tells his father that he loves him before he goes on that final journey. We also learn that Howard and Maria Stark were going on vacation, which raises questions as to why Howard had a suitcase full of super soldier serum on him when he died. I mean…why would you need that if you were going on holiday with your wife to the Bahamas?
Tony announces to the ecstatic students that he’s just funded all of their research projects which makes them all love him and forget the time that the rogue AI he created destroyed an entire city (Steve Jobs used to to do that all the damn time). But someone who hasn’t forgotten is Miriam Sharpe who is played by Alfre Woodard. And man, I just hope Miriam stays out of Harlem and never runs into Mariah Dillard or else the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe will fold in on itself.
Miriam tells Tony that he’s responsible for the death of her son, who was doing humanitarian work in Sokovia when Ultron attacked. She slaps him with a picture of her son and storms away leaving Tony reeling with guilt.
At the mansion, the Avengers are payed a visit by the Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), and oh my stars and garters! Incredible Hulk is actually canon! I thought I had but dreamed it! Mind you, this Ross seems very different from the one Hurt played previously, to the point where Hurt actually stated in an interview that he considered them to be different characters who just happened to have the same name. This Ross is considerably more chill and laid back, but he says that he recently had a heart attack followed by thirteen hours of surgery so that probably has something to do with it. Ross tells the Avengers that the rest of the world is getting increasingly leery of this group of superpowered Americans running around and blowing shit up willy, nilly and yon and shows them a highlights reel of the battles of New York, Washington and Sokovia which look considerably less fun from the perspective of the civilians on the ground getting pelted with bits of rubble and Chitauri giblets. Ross says that the world has decided that enough is too much and that 117 nations have agreed to the Sokovia Accords, placing the Avengers under the control of the United Nations. Steve says that the Avengers have made the world a safer place and Ross asks him if he knows where the Hulk and Thor are right now and my God, the stones on this guy! He helps create the Hulk, loses him, and fails to find him for years and now he’s asking Captain America where the Hulk is? That was his job! And he failed at it! TOTALLY!
Ross goes on to say that if he misplaced a pair of nukes there’d be consequences (as opposed to losing a green rage monster where apparently the only consequence was BEING MADE SECRETARY OF STATE) and tells them that the Sokovia Accords are the best deal that they’re going to get. Steve tells him that they’ll think it over.
Meanwhile, in CLEVELAND, a Russian named Vasily Karpov gets a visit from a quiet, unassuming man named Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Zemo overpowers him easily and leaves him hanging upside down in a sink with the tap running while politely asking him for details of a HYDRA mission from 1991. See, Karpov has been on the run ever since Black Widow exposed all of HYDRA’s agents. Why, I have no idea because law enforcement does not seem to be in any damn hurry to bring them in.
I know I’m always banging on about how much I love moustache-twirling villains and Zemo is the absolute opposite of that but good God DAMN I love Bruhl’s performance in this. He plays Zemo like he’s the lead in a different movie, a kind of gritty Jack Reacher-esque loner who’s nonetheless unquestionably the good guy. He’s soft-spoken, calm, patient and polite. He genuinely seems to find violence unpleasant and regrets when its necessary. He’s a very unique villain and I think it works wonderfully. Karpov refuses to talk and Bruhl leaves him to drown, stealing a notepad marked with a black star from Karpov’s safe.
At Avengers mansion the team is already falling apart over whether to submit to the Sokovia accords. Cap and Falcon are agin’ it but Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow and Vision are on a spectrum of cautiously in favour to full throated support. Rhodey in particular says that the accords are an agreement between 117 nations to protect the world and only the worst kind of narcissistic moron would jeopardise something like that.
Steve says that they can’t give up just because they’ve made a mistake and…okay, sure. You shouldn’t give up when you made a mistake…but you gotta change, right? I gotta admit, this kinda rubs me the wrong way. The fact that Cap can’t even seem to acknowledge that it can’t be just business as usual any more is (as Rhodey points out) insanely arrogant. In the comic there was a more concrete reason for Cap to oppose registration, namely that it would involve all superheroes giving up their secret identities which would place them and their families at risk. In the MCU though, no one really bothers with secret identities so it just comes across as Cap not wanting to have to give up control of his personal little super powered army. But the argument is cut short when Steve looks at his phone and finds a message from Sharon Carter.
Now, you might think it’s kind of cheap to kill Peggy offscreen like this but I think this is phenomenally good story telling and here’s why. It doesn’t give the audience a chance to brace themselves. All through the scene in Winter Soldier where Steve is talking to Peggy I was waiting for her to die. Everything, from the staging to the music to the performances, was telegraphing that this was a death scene, a final farewell to the character. But death isn’t like that. I’ve lost seven people who were close to me over my life (I’ve been lucky) and I wasn’t present in the room when they died for any of them. Most people, you don’t get to tell them goodbye. You’ll go about your day just like normal and then, suddenly, bang. A text out of the blue. They’re gone. And there’s no big orchestral swell. No climactic moment. No great catharsis. Just you, standing there, feeling numb and empty. This is a fantastic scene because it puts the audience right there with Steve.
We weren’t expecting it. We weren’t ready.
Peggy is buried with full military honours and at the funeral Sharon gives a eulogy where she recalls her aunt telling her that “When the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – No, you move.” Now, I really like this because it’s actually lifted verbatim from a speech Captain America gave Spider-man in the comics, and it’s probably one of the most famous quotes from the character. I like it because, by giving this speech to Peggy (via Sharon), the movie underlines just how much of an impact Peggy had on shaping Steve into the hero that he became.
In VIENNA, Nat is at the signing of the Sokovia Accords and gets chatting to T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), crown prince of the secretive nation of Wakanda. He tells her that he is in favour of the Accords but not of all the politicking that it took to achieve them saying “Two people alone in a room can get more done than a hundred.”
T’Challa stands by the window while his father, King T’Chaka, addresses the assembled delegates. Suddenly a bomb goes off and T’Chaka is killed. News leaks that the main suspect is the Winter Soldier and Steve and Rhodey track Bucky down in BUCHAREST. Bucky says “Wuzzen me” but suddenly German Special Forces burst into Bucky’s apartment with orders to shoot on sight and Captain America and Bucky have to fight their way through.
They escape but then get stopped in their tracks by this cat…
Oh man but that is just gorgeous. I even love the silver details on the mask because it makes the Black Panther look a little like Adam West’s Batman.
Falcon chases Captain America who chases Black Panther who chases Bucky and they all go dancing ’round the Mulberry bush until War Machine shows up and tells them to stop all this foolishness. Black Panther is unmasked and revealed to be T’Challa and all four are arrested and taken to a United Nations facility in BERLIN. There they meet Everett Ross, Deputy Commander of the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre which has stepped in to fill the vacancy left by SHIELD which is bullshit because it doesn’t even have a cool acronym. JCTC? Amateur hour. Null point. Ross is played by Martin Freeman in a casting move no less perfect for being obvious (although Patrick Bateman would also have been great). Steve asks Ross what’s going to happen to Bucky and Ross says he’ll be psychologically evaluated and extradited. Steve says “What about a lawyer?” and Ross replies “Lawyer, that’s funny.” which is actually is not funny at all, but terrifying. Ironic.
We get a quiet little scene between Tony and Steve where Tony tries to convince his friend to sign the Accords. He also finally admits that he and Pepper have broken up and explains why, despite trashing all his suits at the end of Iron Man 3,he was back as Iron Man in Age of Ultron. Basically, he came out of retirement to help hunt down HYDRA after the Battle of Washington, and then Ultron came along finally he realised that he was making excuses and just being Iron Man because he wanted to be and so Pepper left him. I think it’s really interesting that in this continuity Tony still has an addictive personality but his drug isn’t alcohol, it’s being Iron Man. Steve almost signs but backs off when he learns that Tony is keeping Wanda a prisoner in the Avengers compound.
Meanwhile, a psychiatrist has shown up to evaluate Barnes and starts with the old Freudian technique of reciting random Russian words aw shit I see what happened here. So yeah, Zemo’s whole plan was to frame Bucky for a bombing and get him arrested so that he’d be taken to a facility where Zemo could impersonate a psychiatrist and trigger his programming. And I’ll stop there, because after that it gets really complicated and nonsensical. Much as I love Bruhl as Zemo, I have to admit this is one of the most crazy-pants plans of any villain in a major blockbuster in quite some time (and we are living in a goddamn Golden Age of bullshit movie villain schemes). It doesn’t bother me as much as it might because, while Zemo’s methods of getting what he wants is a chain of crazy troll logic, why he wants it at least makes perfect sense. A script can support a lot of suspension of disbelief if it makes emotional sense, even if it doesn’t necessarily make logical sense.
So Bucky goes on a rampage through the facility and escapes with the help of Sam and Steve. Oh, and Steve bicep curls a helicopter.
Bucky reveals to Steve and Sam what Zemo wanted, which was the location of a secret HYDRA base in SIBERIA. Bucky says that there’s five more Winter Soldiers in suspended animation up there and that in the wrong hands they could topple whole governments. Reasoning that this is what Zemo wants to get his hands on, Cap decides that they have to head there and stop him. To do this, he enlists the aid of the League of Dads Who Don’t Mind Never Seeing Their Kids again, roping in both Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Oh and he also has Hawkeye bust Wanda out of Avengers mansion.
Meanwhile, Tony’s also putting together a team to bring back Steve and decides that he’s going to get someone with a little actual brand recognition. Arriving at his home in QUEENS, teenager Peter Parker (Tom Holland) finds his dear old, kindly, ancient, frail Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) flirting with billionaire industrialist Tony Stark.
Okay so first things first. Spider-man’s in the MCU.
Awesome. But let’s talk about Aunt May for a second. Aunt May is one of Spider-Man’s very oldest supporting characters, appearing alongside him in his very first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. She looked like this:
Now May has been consistently aged down in subsequent portrayals (Rosemary’s Harris wonderful portrayal in the Raimi films notwithstanding) and I don’t think it’s just because of Hollywood’s usual attitude of “ew, old people”. To a modern reader, Aunt May in her original depiction doesn’t make sense. She’s too old to have a nephew who’s only 15 years old. A grand-nephew, sure. And this is because people age more slowly now than they used to. Watch an episode of the first season of Doctor Who and pay attention to William Hartnell. Silvery white hair, creaking voice, heavily lined face, struggling heroically to remember his lines as well as his rapidly deteriorating memory will allow. Now consider that this old man, seemingly close to death’s door, was only fifty four, actually younger than his current successor, Peter Capaldi, a man who’s still running around and punching Daleks in the dick with vigour. May’s de-ageing is as a result of having to reconceive the character as someone who wasn’t born in turn of the century New York and lived through six decades of bad food, poor medicine, copious tobacco, two world wars and a Great Depression.
So May lets Peter take this eccentric billionaire back to his bedroom (top-notch parenting there, May) and Tony reveals to Peter that he’s been watching him for months (DANGER! DANGER!) and that he knows that he’s Spider-Man (oh thank God).
He finds Peter’s Spider-Man suit which, for once, actually looks like something created by a 15 year old boy and not a professional costume maker. Tony recruits Peter right there and then because nothing says “responsible modern super-heroing” like “recruiting fifteen year old sidekicks like it’s the forties all over again”.
Meanwhile, Cap’s team are…
Right. So. Cap’s team arrive at LEIPZIG airport to steal a jet and fly it to Siberia and Tony’s team show up to stop them and they have a fight so awesome, so spectacular, so momma-fruckin’ cool that I must stand aside and allow it to be recounted by someone more qualified. Please welcome back my inner child, Baby Mouse.
That pretty much sums it up. Only other thing I think it’s interesting to note is how the movie subtly pushes Spider-Man (seeing as he’s the next one of these characters to get a movie that wasn’t already in production). The scene is pretty democratic in doling out “FUCK YEAH!” moments, with all of the principals getting a moment in the spotlight to do something cool. But Spider-Man gets two, one after the other, to really get the audience on his side. Not that they need it. The costume looks better than it ever has and Holland is just a perfect Peter Parker. Oh, I will quibble at one point though. Peter mentions “the walker thingies” in that “really old movie The Empire Strikes Back” which…no. Peter Parker, who was a nerd before it was cool, would know what an AT-AT is. He would also know that they were designed at Kulat Drive Yards and first deployed during the Clone Wars at the Battle of Jabiim. He would know these things because I know them, and a world where Peter Parker is less nerdy than me is not a world I wish to live in.
Steve and Bucky escape in a jet and as they fly off War Marchine tries to stop them. But he’s shot by Vision, who was trying to hit Falcon and goes plummeting towards the Earth. Tony flies down and cradles the unconscious, nearly dead, body of his best friend in his arms. Sam flies down and simply says “Sorry…” and Tony blasts him with his repulsor because frankly he is not in the mood.
The rest of Steve’s team are brought to a super secret base under the sea.
Tony talks to Sam who tells him that Zemo was behind the bombing, not Bucky. Tony does some digging of his own and heads off the Siberia with Black Panther secretly following him.
Steve and Bucky arrive at Siberia and are met by Tony who tells them that he’s learned the truth about Zemo and is not lookin’ to start anything. Steve and Tony have a moment and it looks like the Civil War has ended with everyone being civil. They proceed into the base together, ready to face Zemo’s super soldiers.
Who are already dead. Because that’s never what Zemo wanted.
Zemo instead shows them grainy CCTV footage from 1991 and Tony watches as Bucky Barnes murders his parents in cold blood. And suddenly, things get very un-civil again.
The final fight between Steve, Bucky and Tony is brilliantly staged and brutal but a universe away from the pop and fun of the airport clash. This is just three desperate dudes who’ve exhausted all their options and have been reduced to whaling on each other until someone gives. It’s brutal, and sad, and ugly. And when Steve finally beats Tony down and limps away with a wounded Bucky, Tony yells after him that he doesn’t deserve to carry his father’s shield.
Outside the base, T’Challa talks to the man who killed his father. Zemo tells him that his entire family was killed in Sokovia and so, knowing that he could never defeat the Avengers himself, he plotted to have them destroy each other. His mission completed, he deletes a voice mail from his wife off his phone and tries to shoot himself. T’Challa, seeing that revenge is a hell of a drug, saves his life and tells him that he’s going to jail.
Later, Tony helps Rhodey with his physical therapy, who tells him that, despite the fact that he may never properly walk again, he has no regrets. Tony gets a package delivered by a strangely familiar looking Fed Ex courier.
Inside is a message from Steve, telling Tony that he’s sorry for not telling him about his parents and that if he ever needs him, he’ll be there along with all the other Avengers that he’s even now breaking out of Ross’ top secret prison.
This is how you do it folks. This right here is the best Avengers movie and it’s not even officially an Avengers movie. The plot honestly doesn’t make that much sense if you think about it but it hangs together remarkably well and it all builds to satisfying conclusion, stopping only to indulge in some of the best superhero action ever committed to film.
A less daring, slightly safer version of the Civil War story, but unquestionably a more polished and less messy execution.
Our Heroic Hero: 25/25
I’ve officially run out of ways to say how great Chris Evans is in this part.
Our Nefarious Villain: 20/25
Bruhl gives a great performance as a completely different kind of villain, a completely unpowered human who’s nonetheless smart enough to bring a team of near gods to their knees.
Our Plucky Sidekicks: 25/25
The old hands bring their A game as usual. Boseman nails T’Challa’s regal mien and I really want to see him centre stage and in less of a reactive role. The fun of Black Panther, after all, is that he’s already ten steps ahead of everyone else. And Tom Holland is the best onscreen Spider-man ever. Period.
Bucky tells Steve that he’s got to be put back in deep freeze so that he won’t hurt anyone and Steve reluctantly agrees. We see that the Avengers have now set up shop in Wakanda. Steve warns T’Challa that others will come looking for Bucky and T’Challa grimly replies “Let them try” and the camera pulls out to reveal a gigantic mechanical panther standing guard.
And the audience went
Roll on Black Panther…
The Second Stinger
Peter tells Aunt May that he was hit by a boy in school (“Steve. From Brooklyn.”) and after she leaves he starts playing around with a gadget Tony gave him which turns out to be…THE SPIDER-SIGNAL.
And the audience went
WHICH NOBODY CARES ABOUT. Seriously. Nobody cares about the Spider-signal. It’s one of the least essential elements of the Spider-Man mythos, right up there with the frickin’ Spider-mobile. Swing and a miss.
Infinity Gem Count: 4
Wait a minute, was that Stan Lee?
That was Stan Lee, playing a Fed Ex agent delivering a package to “Tony Stank”.
Hey, what’s Thanos doing?
FINAL SCORE: 93%
NEXT UPDATE: 06 July 2016
NEXT TIME: Well. This is unexpected.
Thanks for the review! And…
…I’m sorry, I have no idea what that picture for next time is. Presumably it’s a movie about…three women? Or possibly it’s about the snack machine in the background? That would be interesting. One of my favorite Japanese web novels is about a guy who was reincarnated as a vending machine. No joke. 😅
There are three women, and the image is small. Evidently he will be reviewing the 1994 family drama Little Women.
I gotta agree with you. I don’t exactly remember THAT scene in Doctor Strange…
What, you don’t remember Joss Whedon’s first Avengers project, when they were all teenagers and lived in California?
It’s from Once More With Feeling, the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
First things first, that picture is of Anya (Vengence demon turned snarky human who hates bunnies), Buffy (the vampire slayer) and Tara (the loveliest and most sensitive kickass witch who ever drew breath) from the awesome TV series by the awesome Joss Whedon. Secondly, that web novel sounds damn interesting, I’m looking that up.
Tch, you kids. It’s Buffy!
Yeaaaaaaah… Not really Buffy fan. How do I put this? I acknowledge it’s (mostly) positive contribution to pop culture (or some kind of culture, anyway) without really having an interest in seeing it myself. ㄟ(ツ)ㄏ
Look up Buffy “once again with feeling”….the first and most famous of the musical episodes. I would hate it for starting the trend, except it is really, really good and I can never hate creativity on TV.
No names of comic book characters awkwardly shoehorned into the dialogue? Are we sure this was an MCU film?
I think they’ve grown out of it.
Love this movie. This is exactly the sort of thing I wanted back when I was 10 and comic book movies were Batman Forever and Tank Girl.
The airport scene is basically exactly what I used to do with a pile of action figures and a playmat. It’s a wonder how well staged it is, with a dozen unique heroes duking it out all with unique looks and abilities, but you never have any trouble figuring out who’s doing what or where they are in relation to each other. I absolutely trust the Russo brothers with Infinity War after this.
This Zemo may be a great villain, but I kind of question the wisdom of calling him Zemo at all. I mean, there’s nothing of the comics’ Zemo here, and while I have nothing against changing a character, when they change everything but the name is when I draw the line. At least they could have had him superglue a pink sock to his face.
Hurt’s General Ross actually makes more sense if you think of him as Sam Elliot’s General Ross played by William Hurt.
Nah. He didn’t even mention mutant French poodles
Those were created by Robert De Niro, not by Sam Elliot, you know.
Funny that you specifically called out the giant city names. When I saw this in theaters, my brother and I were sitting pretty much in the front row and every time they put up a city name we had to actually turn our heads to see what the name was because it was so giant and we were so close.
Same here, front row in an IMAX theater. They ended up so bright we all all had to squint when new places came up.
“Wher the hell is LEIP?”
Firstly. Hah, I love D-Man, I actually have no idea what his deal is but I remember seeing him in an old “What If?” Comic when I was first getting into superheroes and finding the idea that he looked like a Wolverine head on a Yellow Suit Daredevil action figure hilarious, and then he showed up when Luke Cage and Jessica Jones were interviewing prospective nannies for their kid and he just tearfully asked if Cap ever mentions him.
Secondly, yeah that “Walker things” line bugged me for the same reason, especially since even if he isn’t a Star Wars fan, the trailers for his movie tell us he’s building a Lego Death Star with his friends. At the very least he should know from the friend. Maybe he just didn’t want to sound too nerdy in front of the Avengers.
Forgot to add, a little extra heartbreaking that they cancelled Agent Carter right before this came out.
Yeah, they basically killed her trice within two weeks, first by cancelling her show, then in Civil war, and then in showing off her obituary in Agents of Shield…ooch.
I think you may have accidentally said that Millar made Tony Stark a Nazi instead of Steve.
But anyway wonderful review as per usual!
No no, he did. That picture is from the current Secret Empire storyline.
Steve’s reason for opposing the Accords makes perfect sense! The shifting of the decision making to another person would have done nothing to change the situation in Laos. It might have gotten even worse of the Avengers had been forced to wait for green light and Rumlow would have escaped with the bio weapon. And yes, all those people dying was tragic, but Wanda did what she could, had the bomb gone off on the ground there would have most likely been way more victims.
In addition, Steve has perfectly good reason to note trust in any kind of world council to make reasonable decisions, if those decisions boil down to “let’s nuke New York” and “haha, we are Hydra!!!”
I mean the movie basically demonstrates how useless the Sokovia accords in their current form are. They did nothing but criminalize perfectly honest people, lead to them being put into a shady prison without any kind of trial (and what they do with Wanda looks like Guantanamo bay) and after all this, the supposedly biggest supporter of the accords is ignoring them the moment he feels that he has to go off on his own and two heroes who are technically on the accords side try to commit murder out of revenge, showing that it doesn’t matter what is written in the accords, it is not a workable measure of control at all (especially if the people behind it look into the other way and bend the law the moment they want nevertheless).
Oh, and, btw, I agree with you concerning Aunt May, completely. I don’t get the comic purists who actually want her with the original hair and get-up. NO woman dresses this way anymore, not even those who actually are grandmothers. The notion of a frail old aunt just doesn’t fit into modern times, it was high time for an update. (If said update has to be unusually attractive is another matter, though, but in principle, I am glad that they don’t follow the comic slavish in this one).
I think Lagos is a bad example because there really was no fault on the part of the Avengers. Even Wanda probably saved more people by throwing Rumlo into the air. But they’re not called “the Lagos Accords.” An UN overseer might have told Tony Stark “leave the alien AI the fuck alone.”
Steve would most likely have told Tony the same thing, but it is not like Tony asked for permission, right?
The problem with the Sokovia accords is that they do nothing but shifting the same responsibilities into less capable hands while also adding another layer of red-tape which in this case might proof deadly because it slows down the response. What the Sokovia accords should be are a set of guidelines similar to what the police or the military has, in which the Avengers have to operate, and if they break said guidelines, there has to be due process and some sort of committee to judge their actions, as well as a definitive law which includes the kind of punishments they can receive. What they actually are is an attempt to control the Avengers. Ross just wants a bunch of weapons he can use whenever and wherever he wants. That is no solution, is makes the problem worse.
In the universe of the story, probably. That’s how these things go. But the police and military don’t just have guidelines. They are under civilian control. The Avengers answer to no one and they won’t always be under Steve Rogers’ command. It’s completely undemocratic and is just asking for (another) catastrophe.
Buffy, Slayer of the Vampires…. Once More With Feeling. Love that episode. Have the soundtrack somewhere. I like how Joss Whedon made the whole thing a mini-movie, but it always used to bug me that Willow hardly had any lines in the show’s version, until I watched the full version on Netflix. Yeah, she got cut bad.
Civil War was one of those movies where you had to be a fan of the Machiavellian plot of the old villains to truly love. Sure, I’ll trip an old person, force some legislation through, include a line item with an insane takeover clause than burn this reactor down then I’ll be emperor! Yeah, no. Too many ways it can fail.
I remember seeing this one in theaters with my brother and being floored that they actually had a young(and hot) Aunt May instead of the grandmotherly looking type they usually had. Plus, the whole fact that at this point SpiderMan really is a 15 year old kid and has the resources of one. Tony’s offer is practically gold to him. Sign the accords, get a watered down Iron Man suit(watch the trailers for the new movie and tell me I’m wrong) and gets to go fight the bad guys as an Avenger, then being stronger than Bucky’s metal arm had me going, wait? He’s stronger than the Winter Soldier? Plus the snark going back and forth between Bucky and Sam was funny. You couldn’t have done that sooner?
I’ll be honest, I watched Ant-Man after Civil War, not being fond of the character from ignorance and no general interest in watching the movie. Now I wish I had, because I was like, who’s he when Hawkeye opened the door.
Well, now I gotta run, see you all in heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.
But where do we go from here?
We’ll walk alone in fear
One must say that while young Mr Holland* shows considerable promise I still say that if he wants that “Best Spider-Man” award he must earn it by carrying his own movie to Critical Acclaim and/or Abundant Financial Emolument first (if only because its so much easier to shine in a supporting role, when the writers only have to hit the highlights and an actor only has to catch an audience’s interest rather than keep it).
*I’m older than Spider-Man? Bound to happen sooner than later – Supergirl is only a year younger than me? Cool! I can’t be all that old – Superman is very nearly my exact contemporary?
GREAT RAO! I am become one with the Ancients …
Ahem – getting back to Marvel Territory, one has to say that I rather liked this film when I saw it, but looking back can only remember it with vague fondness rather than the keen delight with which I recall my Favourites (SUPERMAN, BATMAN BEGINS, THOR, THE FIRST AVENGER, WONDER WOMAN): if it appears on the TV schedules any time soon I may just have to see it, if only so that I can consider my opinion of the thing based on a broader experience.
Keep Well, Mouse and please do keep Posting!
Till I collapse
Well not THAT long – one wouldn’t want to distress thy Mini-Mouse or the Lady of the Mouse after all! – so we’ll be perfectly happy to settle for you working until your fingerprints wear off, comfortably short of a lethal dose of overwork.
I’m not a Tory, after all, just a progressive with one eye on the Future and the other on those inclined to play Party Tricks for fun & profit.
I completely forgot to mention my favourite part of the entire movie, which one was sad to see you skipped over in your justifiable enthusiasm for the Airfield Fight: I am morally convinced that the whole darned movie would be well worth watching for just about any moment where Sam & Bucky loathe each other like brothers, but the fleeting moment where they come together to silently approve Steve getting his hunk on with Agent 13 was just Too Good.
Don’t ask me why, but that silent “Today our boy becomes a Man” nod is the bit of the film I remember most fondly!
By the way, may I ask how Finbarr the Frog has been? I’ve missed his splendid outpourings of anguished amphibian outrage since he last submitted a review (although I still maintain that any Son of Anuria foolhardy enough to even contemplate taking a child to see a film called SUICIDE SQUAD is a very odd frog indeed) and one has been worrying that he may have either taken a vacation in the wrong part of France or choked to death on his own spleen.
In all seriousness one does hope he’s well and will make a triumphant return to vivisecting those films undeserving of their audiences investment of money & time.
Inflicting my Civil War thoughts on you (sorry not sorry). This film irritated me to death, because I feel like it completely fumbles its argument in the last act. It sets up a genuinely messy political argument, a problem to which there are no good solutions, and then turns it into a simple “rage-driven vendettas are bad” story…which we can all agree with, but is not the answer to the question the film appeared to be posing.
It made me respect the Dark Knight as an artistic achievement a lot more, because it least it follows through its ideas about the correct exercise of absolute power to their logical conclusion – no one can be trusted with that power, because that power is intrinsically immoral. (Hence, Morgan Freeman – whose name in the film I’ve temporarily forgotten – blowing up the surveillance infrastructure at the end of the film. Bruce knows and can acknowledge that what he did was wrong, and that allows the film a certain amount of moral complexity. But the Dark Knight allows its characters to be genuinely WRONG in a way that Civil War doesn’t).
By turning the debate into whether or not Tony should murder Bucky (which is not a difficult question, however understandable his feelings are) I felt like the film retrospectively made Captain America capital R Right, and that irritated me. Particularly because the huffing and puffing about “being used by someone with an agenda” was so extraordinarily naive that I didn’t think it deserved to be respected as an argument – welcome to living in a democracy, Steve. All politics is about balancing competing agendas – to think of that as intrinsically bad is just plain dumb. There’s a strand of anti-politics in Steve’s rhetoric – a suspicion of the entire PROCESS of government as somehow corrupted by its very nature – that struck me as poisonous at the time, and even more so now. It’s not a million miles away from “Drain the Swamp,” and about as intelligent a political position.
Civil War irritated me the way Sunshine or I Am Legend did – the first two acts are really strong, and then the final act feels like it goes wildly off the rails – and I feel part of it was the scriptwriter realising they’d invoked a problem they couldn’t dramatically resolve, and so decided to duck the question entirely.
Which is a pity, because the performances are really strong, and it certainly looks great…but ultimately it pulls its punches a little, and I think that undermines it dramatically. (IMHO of course)
All fair points. How you been by the way? I’d say work is interesting…
“Particularly because the huffing and puffing about ‘being used by someone with an agenda’ was so extraordinarily naive that I didn’t think it deserved to be respected as an argument – welcome to living in a democracy, Steve.”
I’m confused about your point, here. Are you saying anyone who lives in a democracy is invariably going to be “used”? What does that mean.
“It’s not a million miles away from ‘Drain the Swamp,’ and about as intelligent a political position. ”
I thought “drain the swamp” was just another way of saying “purge the corruption”. It turns out Trump’s doing the exact opposite of that, but why would it be bad in principle if it he’d actually meant it?
I think I may have been using shorthand to convey my point here – since mouse knows me offline.
Here’s the problem. Steve doesn’t want to be used by someone with an “agenda” which sounds all well and good, in theory. But one of the points the film makes (and promptly ignores) is that EVERYONE has an agenda. Every country on earth has a position on whether the Avengers should be allowed to just rock up and destroy things – and every country on earth is going to PERCEIVE the Avengers as HAVING an agenda. Steve certainly does – he’s an explicitly political character – and I don’t think he would consider that a bad thing.
But he positions himself as somehow outside the shady, political agendas that everyone else has – which isn’t true, given the behaviour we see in the film – and treats the idea of negotiating and balancing competing priorities with absolute contempt. Steve refuses to engage with the legitimate concerns other people have in any way. And yet, that’s what democratic politics IS – finding a way to accommodate differing perspectives that gives everyone some of what they want. That’s not BAD, that’s how politics is supposed to work – there really aren’t many political issues that break down into the kind of right or wrong lines that Steve keeps trying to draw.
And to clarify the Trump point – setting aside the fact that he was being wildly disingenuous (and that’s a generous interpretation), what corruption is he referring to? There are never any specifics, just a generalised implication that government as a whole is intrinsically corrupt – and only a strong man who is outside the System can fix it. So even if Trump had meant what he’d said I would have had a problem with it – I find that a flat out dangerous position…once you define ALL government as corrupt, and ALL compromise as corrupt, it becomes virtually impossible for the public to accurately identify ACTUAL corruption (which I don’t doubt occurs). If everyone’s evil, no one is, in other words – so it makes no difference if you break every promise you ever made with impunity. (Which we’re seeing play out with Trump at the moment).
That kind of cynicism about the messy and imperfect compromises that make up the lion’s share of politics in a democracy seems genuinely dangerous to me. And while I don’t think the writers necessarily had any of this in mind, they lean into a lot of those tropes hard in how they write Steve in Civil War. And even worse, once they invoke this complicated political question, they back away from it, and try to “solve” it by making Steve right about something completely different. It’s a dramatic cheat.
Work has been TOO interesting and that’s putting it mildly. Never want a three month period like this again – not sure which was worse, dealing with the attack or the election. (Probably the attack – but only just). With luck I’ll be back in Dublin for a week or so next month.
Cool, we shall tea.
Isn’t Pearlmutter a sexist too with not wanting merchandise of a Black Widow and was against female superhero film?
I agree that Aunt May should not be so old, however she could still be less conventionally attractive (even if the Hollywood actresses who are famous and still working pretty much have to be that good looking even they are of that age).
As a member of the Chosen People, it is impossible in Perlmutter’s own mind for him to be a racist.
Re: Peter Parker— Nerd / Geek distinction. Parker IS a ubernerd, but obscure Star Wars trivia belongs to the province of Geekdom.
I did groan at that dialogue too, because it felt like an insidious form of Disney product placement.
Sliding timescales: a Millennial Peter Parker would probably be into sci-fi like, say, ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, ‘Firefly’, and ‘Snowpiercer’. Making him a Star Wars quizmaster would be like reading the 90s Spidey throw out detailed references to the ‘Planet of the Apes’ films while webbing crooks. But Parker is more the type of true nerd who’d !enjoy! spending his leisure time reading academic white papers on biochemistry and cosmology rather than filling his mental hard drive with arcane “facts” made up by George Lucas.
I don’t know any nerd who does not have at least a solid foundation in Star Wars/Trek
Depends on what people are nerdy about….the ones who are interested in Star Wars are usually those who were primed to like this stuff through their parents and sometimes friends. I actually didn’t really get the basics about Star Wars until I was in my early twenties, and I was very nerdy about a lot of stuff (Harry Potter was my entry drug). I read MCU Peter in a way that he is not a nerd of the Coulson brand, but more a science geek. Those are different kinds of interests. I was less irritated that Peter called “empire strikes back” a very old movie and more that he asked “have you seen this” instead of “You surely have watched this really old movie” indicating that he is aware of the status of Star Wars in American pop culture even if he himself sees it more like this old movie which is not half as good as Guardians of the Galaxy except that he wasn’t ever able to actually watch GotG so the poor guy is really missing out on the Space Opera genre….
Pretty good jokes lately. The one in your Ant-Man review about having ants do the dishes and the one in this review about Trump asking Obama why he didn’t build the wall yet both gave me a good chuckle!
I’m a little confused by your point about what Mark Millar did in the Civil War comic, though. You say he turned STARK into a Nazi, but then you have what appears to be a picture of CAPTAIN AMERICA saying “hail Hydra”. Am I missing something?
Also, in response to the paragraph right before the “Peggy’s dead” line, I thought Cap’s reason for opposing the Accords was supposed to be a general distrust of government after seeing SHIELD’s abuse of power (the DNA bomb helicarriers) and their infiltration by HYDRA in “Winter Soldier” (I know the UN isn’t technically a government, but it is an organization of governments). Again, am I missing something? Or were you just saying they didn’t convey that clearly enough in the film?
I’m also curious, do people actually age slower now? Why is that?
I’m also curious as to whether you have a theory on why Marvel made the weird choice you’ve pointed out about the HYDRA guy at Pym Tech who can walk about openly.
I looked up Ike Perlmutter’s name and “war criminal” on Google and didn’t find anything. Was that part a joke, and if not, what war did he serve in and what was he accused of doing, exactly?
Did you get the comment and link I put on your “Moana” review or the vote comment on “Regrettably, the civil war must be postponed”?
And last of all, do you know yet when you’ll be closing the voting in that post and announcing the results?
Sorry to bombard you with so many questions, but I’m curious about all of them and feared I might forget a lot of them if I didn’t get them out all at once. Thanks as always for responding to my comments and writing these fun reviews!
*rolls up sleeves*
Okay the Captain America panel is from a recent Marvel storyline where it was revealed that Cap had been a HYDRA sleeper agent all along. So the joke is that this happens in every Marvel event.
Cap doesn’t really bring up the HYDRA thing, his main objection seems to be that the Avengers might be constrained from helping people for political considerations.
Yes, less physical labour, better food, a decline in the use of tabbacco (and a transition to a far more image obsessed culture) means you will probably reach fifty looking a LOT younger than your parents or grandparents.
Mitchell, the HYDRA agent who walked. I imagine it’s just sloppy continuity.
Perlmutter’s war record from the 1967 Israeli war is very hush hush like everything else about his life (there are almost no pictures of him from after the seventies). It’s been a persistent rumour in the comics industry that he did some nasty shit7 during that time though I freely admit it’s just unproven gossip.
Shadowy presence, somewhat outmoded attitudes, fingers in all the juiciest pies, almost no known photographs after a certain point in time … is this man actually a Vampire?
And he drinks blood! It all makes sense!
Thanks. Oh, and I meant to ask the first time, where did you get the “know what I mean, know what I mean. nudge, nudge” “RAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIN”, “I love Aunt Mays” and “YAWN” pictures from?
And is that Buffy episode you’re going to review the musical one? And do you know when the results of that shorts poll will be in?
“Nudge nudge” is from Monty Python “Raaaain” is Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic”, “I love Aunt Mays” is a repurposed quote from “Dazed and Confused” and Walkin is from “Batman Returns”.
I replied to your comment and I hope to announce the results tonight. Phew!
You don’t need to say that Danial Bruhl does a good job in a movie . You just need to say he is in it.
On a more serious movie note, as much as I enjoyed this movie there area couple things that really bothered me. One is the terrible under use of Danial Bruhl. Two is Captain America’s argument against the treaty. You characterize it as not wanting his super army taken away. To me it came off as more of a “we are the physically powerful ones so we should make the decisions” which is not a good fit for him. It also reminded me too much of what police officers say when the topic of prosecuting them for misconduct comes up.
But on the other hand, did you see that fight t the airport?
Oh man. There hasn’t been that much spectacular violence in an airport since United’s last AGM. HIYO!
You’re wrong about the Aunt May being to old to make sense thing, Mouse. I’m in my twenties and through a combination of older parents and large age gaps between siblings, I have an aunt in her eighties. It can happen.
My point was more that a woman in her fifties in the sixties would look like a woman in her eighties in the aughties. What the hell am I talking about?
This is the best non-Avengers MCU movie imo. Unless you’re a filthy dirty cheater like Mouse is and count this as half of an Avengers movie.
Them’s fightin’ words!
“But he positions himself as somehow outside the shady, political agendas that everyone else has – which isn’t true, given the behaviour we see in the film”
Really? What’s Steve’s shady political agenda?
“Steve refuses to engage with the legitimate concerns other people have in any way.”
Huh. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but based on what I remember I suppose you’re right. I’ll have to watch this film again soon.
“there really aren’t many political issues that break down into the kind of right or wrong lines that Steve keeps trying to draw.”
I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree there.
“And to clarify the Trump point – setting aside the fact that he was being wildly disingenuous (and that’s a generous interpretation), what corruption is he referring to?”
I assume he was referring to the tendency of politicians to do the bidding of their donors instead of their constituents. There was a Harvard study (https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf) that found (see pages 8 and 9) that when we compare the influence the American public, economic elites and interest groups have on American public policy, “the estimated impact of average citizens preferences drops precipitously, to a non-significant, near-zero level”, that “clearly the median citizen or median voter at the heart of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy does not do well when
put up against economic elites and organized interest groups”, and “not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or
no independent influence on policy at all.
Bottom line; even when the overwhelming majority of Americans agree on an issue, we usually don’t get our way in this supposed democracy unless most of the rich and powerful special interest groups agree with us. This is because of the corruption Trump mentioned during his campaign when he (rightly) called Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton puppets of Wall Street. Of course, Trump engaged in the same corruption almost immediately upon taking office, but the things he SAID during the campaign about the corrupting influence of money in our (I’m an American) government were absolutely correct.
“once you define ALL government as corrupt, and ALL compromise as corrupt, it becomes virtually impossible for the public to accurately identify ACTUAL corruption (which I don’t doubt occurs).”
Unfortunately, I think the evidence shows that virtually all of American government is corrupt, with maybe occasional exceptions like Bernie Sanders or Ron Paul (not that I don’t have a lot of disagreements with Ron Paul, but I’ve heard he largely avoided letting money change his positions on anything, unlike his son Rand Paul).
If everyone’s evil, no one is, in other words – so it makes no difference if you break every promise you ever made with impunity. (Which we’re seeing play out with Trump at the moment).
“And even worse, once they invoke this complicated political question, they back away from it, and try to ‘solve’ it by making Steve right about something completely different. It’s a dramatic cheat.”
Yeah, I see your point there. I can only assume they did that because they wanted a climactic battle and conclusive ending without concluding the Sokovia Accords plot line. This is one of the flaws of the cinematic universe structure.
The American government isn’t even the only issue here…the UN is after all a body which consists of a number of states which are NOT democracies. In fact, an overwhelming number of people sitting in the UN are NOT elected. So the whole discussion about who actually controls the Avengers always boil down to which unelected guy is the best choice…yeah, I would hedge my bets with Steve in this case. At least he is in the field and despite his name he doesn’t put state interests over the need to rescue people and/or the world.
Also the whole point of the movie is that there is no conclusion to the Sokovia question. That is the whole point of the movie. Tony is wrong because of the multiple ways the Accords are misused in the movie and how ineffective they turn out to be. Steve is wrong because the actions of Black Panther and Ironman proof that you can’t trust heroes to always do the right thing and never fall prey to their desire for revenge (not to mention his own tendency to put Bucky above everything else). Tony is right that some sort of rulebook for the Avengers is needed. Steve is right that the Accords in their current form are not designed to create accountability but are an attempt to control the Avengers. The audience is supposed to think about those issues – which is exactly why the movie is so brilliant.
also at thebookofmaev: On the plus side, there are groups working on the problem, like Justice Democrats and Wolf-PAC.
Good review! I love this movie very much. However, I still don’t understand why Vision missed and hit Rhodey. I know nothing of comics outside the movies, so can anyone explain it to me? Thanks!
Because Falcon dodged out of the way the last minute. Though it is possible that Vision subconsciously wasn’t as careful as he should have been since he was still reeling about War Machine hurting Wanda during the battle.
I like this movie. Definitely not as much as TWS (<3), but it was still good.
I just wish it took a few more risks. That letter at the end of the movie shouldn't have been sent imo, it made a lot of people think they're all buddy buddy now.
Also wanda should've blown up some school children ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I always assumed that building was filled with politicians hence why they decided to act immediately, but I don't think that's ever actually stated in the movie.
*comic book nerd voice* Oh, you call yourself a nerd, but then you go and misspell “Kuat” as “Kulat”. Please, I bet you don’t even know who Raith Siener is.
(I am awash in useless information. Please send rescue.)