Captain America: Civil War just mic-dropped whatever other comic book movies were hoping to cash in on the “superhero vs. superhero” shtick. The film proved that just because your heroes wear brightly colored costumes and dare to have a personality doesn’t mean it can’t be serious. And Civil War is heartbreakingly serious at moments.
What ultimately helps set Civil War apart is the smart directing by the Russo brothers and brilliant writing of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. No, this isn’t Avengers 2.5, even if quite a few of Avengers are featured. The writing makes this very much a Captain America movie, one that’s ultimately about his journey as a superhero and best friend.
At the same time, the film built on tensions and philosophical disagreements that introduced themselves in previous Avengers films. Taking over a story arc crafted by Joss Whedon and making it work was no small feat, even if the Russos, Markus, and McFeely made it seem easy.
It all came together in a movie that managed to mix the big screen spectacle that we’ve come to expect from comic book hero movies with some “grown up” questions. For example, the question, “Should the audience be enjoying those CGI explosions at all?”
We as the viewing audience are typically dazzled by destruction and explosions in blockbuster movies. That’s because we’ve always known they existed for our entertainment. Imagine if tragedies related to terrorism and war that we’ve endured in the real world happened for the entertainment of a viewing audience in some other parallel universe.
Captain America: Civil War allows an empathetic light bulb to pop on. You suddenly realize all the explosions that entertained you came at an awful, awful price. But lessons were learned. Members of the public are evacuated ahead of that brilliant airport battle sequence. In fact, the movie goes out of its way to actively avoid civilian casualties beyond a certain point.
These little details give DC and Warner Bros.’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a much-deserved black eye. Remembering how that “glorified Justice League trailer” swept the lives of innocent people under the rug and made no serious effort to hold its superheroes accountable makes me cringe.
Some DC fans are angry at the comparisons between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. They’re determined to hold on to the belief that everyone’s unfair to this movie for the sake of “hating.” Any sympathy I had for that narrative went out the window following the final battle between Captain America and Iron Man.
Unlike the much-hyped fight between Batman and Superman, you could feel that the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself was in the balance. Heck, the fear that someone would die lingered as the bloody scrap continued. With that thought in mind, I’d like to give a “shout out” to Zac Snyder for the tacky “death” of a particular character that no one expects to stay dead. That and the truly convoluted nature in which the Batman vs. Superman fight happened in the first place. Or the hilariously “you’ve got to be kidding me?” manner in which it suddenly stopped.
Way to turn what should have been an instant classic into a laughable, plot-hole filled mess with no soul. Everything that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got wrong is on display in Captain America: Civil War. That Civil War exists solely because of Batman v Superman should be a soul-crushing embarrassment to everyone attached to the latter movie.
Unlike Superman and Batman, when Captain America and Iron Man fought, you genuinely feared for both men. That’s because you felt their vulnerability — their humanity. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark weren’t “gods among us.” They were two men who both wanted what was best for the people they care about. The feelings of love, hate, righteous anger, and even forgiveness came across as entirely genuine. These emotions were all earned through brilliant storytelling and patient cinematic universe-building.
Warner Bros. once again pays the price for taking a short-cut in the name of “playing catch-up.” The DC Extended Universe’s superheroes are ultimately killers who refuse to obey an ethics code, but we’re supposed to cheer for them because of name recognition?
It’s stuff like this that that Warner Bros. and DC carelessly overlooked in their rage to be taken so seriously. A so-called “dark and gritty” take on the comic book movie doesn’t mean anything if you remove the hearts of your heroes and turn them into murderers who are above being held accountable — even when you pretend to do so.
The good news for the DC Extended Universe? They’ll be forgotten and left alone to try again with Justice League: Part 1. The bad news is that Zack Snyder arrogantly doubled down on all the shortcomings found in Man of Steel when making Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Rumors persist suggesting Warner Bros. is looking to that movie to determine whether Snyder keeps his job.
In actuality, they should have fired Zack following a single viewing of Captain America: Civil War.
[Image via Marvel]