So, let's talk Captain America: Civil War again.
I don't know if I can remember a post- The Avengers Marvel film for which the anticipation has been as high as it is right now for the upcoming Captain America 3; the Marvel Cinematic Universe's take on the polarising Civil War narrative arc from the comics.
But, as the title reminds us, this isn't an Avengers film. It's a Captain America film.
Why So Cap?
For fans of Marvel comics this specific titling may have seemed a bit odd off the bat. The [Marvel: Civil War](tag:2346746) is a massive event in the comic universe, encompassing many individuals and superhero groups coming together and breaking apart on opposing sides over an issue which had long been brewing in narrative tensions and collateral damage.
So obviously Cap is a very important figure in Civil War, but he's not the only one. The two central characters - Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Iron Man (Tony Stark) - are at this point in the comics close friends, though not without their ideological clashes. We saw a bit of this in the trailer, with the kicker:
Steve: "Sorry Tony. You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any other choice... But he’s my friend."
Tony: "So was I."
So emotional! Or is it? As I just said the breaking apart of the Steve / Tony relationship is central to Civil War, and Tony in particular struggles with the ramifications of his actions.
But in Captain America: Civil War? There's not really the same dynamic between the two in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as there was in the comics, and even though that moment in the trailer was pretty affecting it doesn't quite carry the weight it should. They've constantly butted heads, particularly during The Avengers:
Steve: "Big man in a suit of armour. Take that off, what are you?"
Tony: "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist."
Steve: "I know guys with none of that worth ten of you. I've seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you."
Tony: "I think I would just cut the wire."
Steve: "Always a way out... You know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero."
Tony: "A hero? Like you? You're a lab rat, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle!"
By the time Age of Ultron rolls around they've reached an accord, settling into the teammates spectrum, arguments turned playful rather than malicious. We see Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) fearing that he's "failed" his team when Steve (Chris Evans) accuses him in his Scarlet Witch vision, but there's no real time afforded to establishing if and how a real "friendship" has developed between the two.
Maybe Tony just has a different concept of friendship, as Carly Lane at The Mary Sue has posited?
Would I like to see a film exploring the nuances of Tony and Steve's relationship? Heck yes I would; Tony Stark is one of my favourite Marvel comic characters well played by Downey Jr., and though Cap can border on being a bit too goody goody in the comics his adaptation has been wonderfully developed thus far.
So Why Doesn't This Work?
The problem in the MCU is that there's no real meat to back this up. This is no fault of the universe's framework itself, nor can blame be laid with the writers, directors or actors who have contributed to it.
It's the nature of the form; nearly 80 years work of comic book history vs 17 years of cinematic adaptation - it's just not comparable in terms of size and scope, not to mention the differing continuities. Which is why changes have been made to Civil War in the adaptation process, a smart move from directors Anthony and Joe Russo.
Which brings us back to this; why is this film called Captain America: Civil War? Why not Iron Man: Civil War or - more likely - Avengers: Civil War? 'Cause this ain't an [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) sequel baby, this is the follow up to The Winter Soldier and that's what it's all about.
Kevin Feige: "[We’re] bringing in some of the other players, most importantly Tony Stark, to tell that Civil War story. But it is very much a sequel to Winter Soldier."
Joe Russo: "It was important for us to make sure that you very clearly understood that [Civil War] is a companion to Winter Soldier. It’s not a companion to Age Of Ultron, this is not a companion to Infinity War…"
Instead of struggling through what would've been a half formed take on the comic books Anthony and Joe Russo have instead linked it up with the preceding [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973) which makes much more sense at this juncture. As a result - and as we saw from the trailer - Civil War is going to be less concerned with Steve and Tony and more focused on Steve and Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
Whilst focusing on the Winter Soldier might not be the most faithful narrative to the comics (Bucky doesn't really feature in the immediate struggle in Civil War), in terms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it certainly makes the most sense.
Good job Russos, we knew we could count on you.