Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr.
Run Time: 2 Hours, 27 Minutes
Release Date: May 6th, 2016
Link to IMDb
Oh boy do I have some issues with this movie!
Now, I want to make one thing clear before we begin. When discussing this movie, I won’t be comparing it to the comic. To do so wouldn’t be fair. The Marvel Civil War story is one of the best the comic company has ever produced. So much so that they tried to recreate that success with the Civil War 2 storyline.
We don’t talk about that one.
I’ll be judging this movie entirely on it’s own merits. Much like how I defended the changes made to the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, I don’t like comparing the movies to the comics unless absolutely necessary. With that said, let’s talk about why I paradoxically hate and love this movie at the same time.
Let’s start with the positives, as per usual. First and most importantly: this movie introduced Tom Holland as Spider-Man into the MCU. As a massive Spider-Man fanboy, that alone earns the movie an at least positive rating. He is charming as hell, full of energy, totally awkward, and he’s the best live action depiction of Peter Parker we’ve ever had (fight me Toby Maguire fanboys).
Now imagine how much better he’d be if he were actually important to the story of this film. A man can dream.
This movie also introduces the Black Panther into the MCU. While I’ve never been much of a fan of the character in the comics, I have to admit that he’s pretty awesome in this movie. He has a solid, interesting and emotionally engaging character arc, and he’s pretty bad ass to boot.
Sure, I’ve got a whole lot of issues with his movie, but that’s for another day.
That’s about it. It introduced two characters, one of which is my favorite comic book hero of all time. Now I can spend the rest of this tearing the movie a new asshole!
First of all: the action in this movie is super bad. The first few fight scenes are plagued with violent shaky cam, which only does two things: one, it makes it impossible to see what the hell is happening, and two, the scenes are nauseating. When I first saw this with my buds on opening night, I nearly barfed three times.
In the first fight alone.
The combat is also completely devoid of tension. Specifically the air port fight. You’d think this would be the scene that really puts the audience on the edge of their seats. How will this affect their friendship? Will they hold their punches and get hurt as a result? Will someone getting hurt set off another member of the team, thus forcing the battle into chaos?
Nope. They’re all still cracking jokes and acting like everything’s cool. It feels more like a sparring match than an actual battle. The only person trying to do actual harm is Black Panther!
I feel it’s best exemplified in this simple exchange.
We’re still friends, right?- Black Widow
Depends on how hard you hit me!- Hawkeye
GEE GOLLY, I’M ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT! WILL THEIR FRIENDSHIP SURVIVE THE BATTLE?! SCOOTY BOOTY DOUGH, I HAVE TO KNOW!!
Worse yet, the movie can’t even tease you with genuine tension. After Vision knocks War Machine out of the sky, Tony pursues, tears his mask off, and Friday tells him that… He’s fine. It can’t even tease us with silence or a cut away. It has to tell you right away that he isn’t dead.
The whole movie treats the audience like children. “No no no, don’t cry!” It stammers in a panic. “He’s not dead, he’s just paralyzed! Look, Tony built him robot legs! He’s okay!”
How am I supposed to get invested in a story with no consequences? If you insist on not killing War Machine, then the least you can do is take him out of commission! Have him retire, as he’s no longer fit for service due to the accident! Him being paralyzed is so inconsequential that it may as well not even have happened!
This is the one and only time I’ll compare this movie to the Civil War comic. See, the comic was so good because it was tense! No one was safe, especially not as the conflict escalated further. Hell, Captain America fucking died at the end of that story! The story was so engaging because you didn’t know who’d make it to see the new day!
This movie is completely devoid of such tension. No one dies, no one sustains permanent damage, and no one is changed by the events of the story! The only consequence is that The Avengers are now broken up! A consequence that, spoiler alert, won’t be long lived with Thanos right around the corner!
I want to love this movie! But no matter how hard I try to, I can’t find myself liking this at all. I’d completely hate this movie had it not given us Tom Holland as Spider-Man. But as it stands, all I can muster for this movie is frustrated indifference.
If you go back to the really early days of this blog, then you’ll find me rambling about how nervous I was about Infinity War. I complained about how safe and devoid of consequence these movies are. This movie is why.
Luckily, Infinity War gave me everything I wanted and more. So I guess I can be a little more forgiving.