I have always been a big supporter of comic-book films, they’re a lot of fun and you get to see some of your favorite childhood heroes kick serious ass on-screen! What’s not to love? But as time goes on, I have noticed that my enjoyment of said films is diminishing a bit– I think on some level, the entire genre is getting way too over-saturated and overdone. That isn’t to say that the quality of what is on-screen has diminished in anyway, but the novelty is starting to wear off a bit. So where does that leave major comic-book franchised films? While my enjoyment, though still there, has been diminishing, I doubt that the genre is going away any time soon. But if DC’s latest Batman v. Superman and Marvel’s newest Captain America: Civil War have taught me anything, I think it is the fact that movies within this genre should focus less on world-building and more on making solid standalone films.
Seriously, take a long look at Deadpool, a movie that took the world by storm. It didn’t try to do too much, it didn’t try to set up for other movies, other storylines or other characters– it was just a solid movie that had a definitive ending. And then look at a movie like BvS, which was a movie that tried so hard to be the origin story for an entire universe that it failed to focus on any one story plot long enough to make the movie feel….well… like a movie. And, I may not be on the popular side of this opinion, but I feel like Civil War suffered from this also. Granted, what saved this movie from being as bad as BvS is some solid directing, good editing and the mere fact that we have seen (most) of these characters in other movies before– so you don’t feel like you’re playing catch up. But anyone that watches these to films and doesn’t think that both tried to do way too much is either (1) a fan boy of the film/universe they are arguing for or (2) probably insane.
The story centers around the group of Avengers that we know and love as they struggle with the idea of governmental control over their operation. After an incident that causes the death of about a dozen Wakanden activists, the United Nations decide that the Avengers should no longer be allowed to ‘protect’ the world unchecked and unsupervised. This leaves the team harshly divided as Captain America (Chris Evans) believes that governmental oversight would be nothing more than handcuffing them to people whose political agendas shift and change like the wind whereas Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.) believes that agreeing to the UN terms is not only the right and moral thing to do, but the ONLY logical course of action that will allow the team to stay together. Add into the mix the fact that Evan’s bff Buckey is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and ‘civil war’ ensues.
The character list is pretty dense, you have Vision, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Maximoff, War Machine, Spiderman, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Falcon and a random villain thrown in the mix. I mean…. I am pretty sure that is everybody but dammit, that makes BvS look like it could have added a few more cameos to their film. That being said, most of the characters were enjoyable even if they had to share a hella amount of screen time with the rest of the crew and barely anyone got time to shine. Anyone who doubted that Tom Holland would be a great Spiderman probably had their minds blown when watching this movie. So far, he is everything I would want a live-action Spiderman to be, funny, smart, sarcastic and bad ass all rolled into one. Garfield nailed the sarcastic trash-talking Spidey well, but other things ruined that franchise. So if Disney/Marvel can make a solid standalone film, I am totally on board! And I have heard recently that they WONT be doing an origin story, so that is some solid steps in the right direction if you ask me.
I also, surprisingly, enjoyed Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and look forward to him having his own future films. This was a tough one for me to like, too, because I didn’t know anything about the character prior to seeing him on-screen and I felt that his character was a random addition at first. But he certainly holds his own in the film in terms of both action but as well as being a compelling character to latch onto in the film, certainly more than the Winter Soldier, in my opinion, who seemed to be nothing more than a plot-device in this film. Chadwick Boseman really seemed believable as both Black Panther and his alter-ego and had a solid and believable accent to boot. You get some really emotional dialogue from him in the move that, if done by most other actors, would have felt just cold and distant rather than emotional. Boseman continues to prove that he is a star with acting chops to hang with the best of them and I look forward to EVERY movie that he is in.
And, as far as the usual characters go, Iron Man and Captain America did solid jobs in their roles as leaders of opposing factions, RDJ in particular had some interesting emotional moments in the film. But even those moments feel a little forced in terms of the writing to me. Their fight scene, at the end of the movie, however, really made up for a lot of the film for me… in fact BOTH big fight scenes in this movies made up for how dense the films was. The big group fight that you see in the commercials? Yup, unlike BvS they only showed you the tip of an amazing iceberg… this fight scene was brutal, hilarious and amazing and dammit it brought me back to my childhood all over again and it is a scene where Holland’s Spiderman really gets to shine.
While I take nothing away from Daniel Brühl’s performance ans Zemo, the films villain, I find his character to be utterly pointless within the confines of this movie. Daniel did an excellent job portraying the villain and held his own against the star power in this film, but It just feels like everything Zemo did in the movie to cause turmoil and strife could have happened anyways without his intervention. This movie didn’t need a villain and, in fact, it would have been refreshing if the ‘villain’ in this movie was more open to interpertation. If we have two rival factions facing off, it would have been way more fun to be able to choose a side and to have neither side be truly right or wrong in the fight. But instead the film clearly defines both, taking some of the fun away from this movie.
Also, the Russo brothers did this annoying thing throughout this movie where, whenever we would switch to a new city, they would put the name of the city in BIG BOLD LETTERS accross the entire screen and, honestly, I did not enjoy this for a couple of reasons. The first is because it took me out of the movie, every time it happened it was a bit jarring and distracting. Secondly, they switch cities so often it is extremely annoying! Add that to the fact that, for the most part, WHERE the events were taking place really didn’t alter my enjoyment of the film and you have me a little annoyed.
But the bottom line is, this movie was better than BvS, for sure…. it just feels a bit more refined and polished. But that doesn’t mean the movie isn’t overly formulaic and predictable and it certainly doesn’t mean that this movie didn’t fall into a lot of the same pitfalls that BvS did, because it did. What truly elevates this movie about BvS is the stellar fight scenes that lasted longer than 5 minutes, having a CORE story that didn’t feel as jumbled and having a bit more humor and levity. And keep in mind, this is coming from a DC fan! But this is not my favorite Marvel movie by a long shot, hell, it isn’t even my favorite one this year (Deadpool). Too much of this film felt like it was trying to add characters or build conflict for the overarching universe rather than be a solid standalone Captain America film. Too many superhero movies feel like they are films made for the sake of future films and that is a trend, I think, needs to stop!