ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

Let me say right off the top that I don't love or hate Marvel as a whole. I don't love or hate DC as a whole. I have no dog in this hunt. I watch every superhero movie because I'm American, and Americans watch superhero movies. It's the law.

Before you read this article and yell at me or lecture me, you should know that I have never read any superhero comics, so I have no idea what's canon and what isn't. I also don't give a shit. When I see a superhero movie, I'm focusing on the movie version, and I have no knowledge of a page in Issue #431 of Your Favorite Comic Book. I just want it to make sense and be entertaining in its own right, even for normal people like me.

Oh, and I guess this is where I say that this article contains spoilers.

So now that I've made all my caveats, let me cut through all the hype from the fanboys that say "This Is The Best Superhero Movie Of All Time!!!!!1!!!" and from the haters that say "This Movie Totally Sucks!!!!!1!!"

It's neither one. This movie is a mixed bag of elements; some of them worked, and others didn't. Everything pretty much canceled out, and we have an OK movie. Let me explain.

Things That Worked

The action

The fight scenes (which were most of the movie) were well done and choreographed. I was especially happy to see Falcon's suit finally do some really cool things.

Tony Stark

For some reason, Stark is just about the only character that actually evolves through the movies. He's sort of the emotional backbone of the whole saga. This one gives him some more backstory and insight into his considerable guilt and pain. And he's still a smart-ass.

Black Panther

This movie finally gives us a new superhero that isn't lame. He's easily the best superhero in the MCU since Black Widow appeared in Iron Man 2. He feels like a real character, coming from a vital place in the world, taking care of his own. I'm so happy Chadwick Boseman took this role. He's a great actor, and he needed to do something to get his character in Gods of Egypt out of my head.

Spider Man

This movie contains yet another reboot of Spider Man, but this one feels the most realistic yet. He's played by Tom Holland, who Americans may remember from In the Heart of the Sea. Holland's character fits the style of the MCU better than the other versions.

Thor wasn't in it

This is a big one for me. It was kind of cool to see all the different storylines and movies start to merge, but Thor the Meathead Frat Boy with his overcompensating hammer has always annoyed me. Not knowing much about this movie, I was scared the whole time that I would suddenly see a rainbow bridge.

Things That Didn't Work

The "Sokovia Accords"

This is the 13th film in the MCU, and I think it's the first one where anybody cared about people dying. The MCU has built itself by existing in a universe where it doesn't matter how many people are killed in collateral damage, as long as it isn't actually shown, and as long as the fight scenes are awesome. Yet suddenly, like a light switch, it's now a concern.

But it's not even a real concern. The Avengers apparently didn't know about the Sokovia Accords until three days before the signing at the United Nations, so everybody had to take sides immediately. And once the Accords were signed, they were ignored for the rest of the movie anyway. They were a blatant gimmick to lead to the next gimmick, which was...

The "Civil War"

When I think of a civil war, I think of epic battles between citizens of a nation. Deep moral differences with extended social consequences. But that's not what we got.

The movie started by showing the delicately balanced teamwork of the Avengers to take the bad guys out. And yet when they took sides over the Accords, they fall apart. Their abilities to communicate and strategize disappeared like Pepper Potts.

Instead of calling the movie Captain America: Civil War, it should have been called Captain America: Street Fight. Yeah, it was cool to watch them beat each other up in the ways that a 10-year-old boy would imagine, but come on. They wouldn't all split up and take each other on individually, or in pairs. If one side actually planned something out, the fight would be over quickly. Or if Vision did more than cut open a couple buildings, the "war" would have been over even more quickly. But no. They kept using their powers in stupid ways that they would never have tried on real villains. And then half of them got arrested. The end.

Consider me underwhelmed.

My favorite part of the fight was when Captain America finally got called out for his magical shield that doesn't obey the laws of physics. Of course, Captain America just says "you wouldn't understand", which means the writers don't know how it's possible, either.

The romance

Since Natasha and Bruce are on hold, we get two new budding romances. One of them is Captain America and Sharon Carter. While there's about a 60-year difference in their ages, they both look hot, so it's fine. But the Scarlet Witch and Vision are eyeballing each other? WTF? The mind boggles.

And can't we keep the focus on the battles and the bad guys? Why do we need to have superheroes fall in love? What does that bring to the table, except for the old "rescuing your lover" scenes?

The overused "dead parents" motivation.

No less than three characters in this movie attribute their sense of justice or revenge to the fact that their parents were killed. Can we please find some new kind of trauma to use? Spider Man had that angle covered, as do Superman and Batman over in the other universe. Can we at least get more tortured kids, like Natasha?

In the end, Captain America: Civil War stays consistent to itself. It has some nice new elements that fit the universe. It's still silly and full of plot holes. It doesn't really care about accountability for violence, no matter what it claims. Marvel fanboys will stay Marvel fanboys, Marvel haters will stay Marvel haters.

And me? My only reaction is "meh."


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