Caution, spoilers for Captain America: Civil War ahead!
For the past week or so, the internet has been flooded with reviews and reactions from [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409). If you went off the praise and reactions alone, you would be left to believe that it's the single greatest superhero movie ever made. You could also assume that it's the best Captain America movie released so far, too. The one thing you're not seeing a lot of is criticism and although that could be considered negative or unwarranted, I would respectfully disagree. Civil War was good, but it was far from flawless.
With this we will touch on six main talking points that are receiving mixed criticism among audiences. While I'm not saying these points made it a terrible movie, I would argue the fact that it hurts Civil War enough to break any argument of the greatest of all time. I want to reiterate prior to reading this article that I did enjoy Civil War as much as the next person, but as a Captain America movie I felt that it fell down a bit. I would rather watch The Winter Soldier before watching Civil War.
Please note that this is personal opinion and that all opinions deserve to be respected, even yours, so show some respect when commenting or discussing. And in case you missed the warning the first time, this article does contain a lot of spoilers, so you should come back later if you haven't seen the movie yet.
6. Zemo was a failed villain
In the grand tradition of Marvel not exercising their full villain potential, aside from Loki, we were introduced to Helmut Zemo. People were excited to see him because he's actually a pretty complex villain within the Marvel universe and has often been ranked as one of the best comic villains of all time. Basically, there were a lot of expectations with this one.
He could have been a great villain and he was on his way to developing a lot of potential. Practically the entire movie, it would seem that his motivations were to reactivate Bucky as The Winter Soldier to attack the existing Avengers team and sabotage the Sokovia Accords. Well, that is until his true motivations were revealed in Russia.
We find out exactly what Zemo was looking for with the 1991 Hydra files when it's revealed that Bucky murdered Tony Stark's parents. It wasn't to unleash havoc with Bucky and it wasn't to challenge the Avengers with the reactivation of four cryogenically frozen Winter Soldiers. Oh no, he explains to Black Panther that his actions were basically just to avenge his family's death in Sokovia and use Bucky to pit the Avengers against each other. Zemo was smart enough to know that he wasn't strong enough to pick them off himself, so he had to find a way to create total chaos and get the superheroes to attack each other. I was sitting in the theater and was quite disappointed when that was revealed because it is so lame. Not to mention we got zero explanation regarding the history of the Baron Zemo line, so any viewers with no prior knowledge of Helmut is probably just brushing it off which is sad.
5. There wasn't a big death
I'm sorry, but with a title like Civil War, you go into the movie expecting something major to happen besides just the fight. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I would wager that a majority of us went in expecting a major character to die and that didn't quite pan out. We saw the deaths of Tony Stark's parents and King T'Chakka as well as attending the funeral of Agent Peggy Carter, but none of our soldiers on the front lines suffered the same fate. The only one who really got close was War Machine and he managed to technically still be walking after all was said and done.
Like I said, with the theme taking us in the direction it did, the stakes were definitely high enough to where we deserved something a lot more than what we got. I would have accepted War Machine if Tony didn't just give him a bionic leg at the end. The consequences seemed a bit too fixable and everyone basically walked away intact with no serious consequence. Not to mention the death of Quicksilver in Age of Ultron seemed to get mostly brushed under the rug like nothing happened.
The only real explanation we've received is from writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Bustle published an article this weekend regarding the complaints of no one dying and they basically said they needed to keep The Avengers intact so they weren't vulnerable when Thanos arrives in full scale. Adding onto that, they felt a massive fight between family was more difficult to watch than a major character dying. I respectfully disagree on that one, but it is what it is.
4. Spider-Man was shoehorned in for box office numbers and it's obvious
Don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy the new Spider-Man. He was fresh, unassuming, and very welcoming to any sort of superhero guidance. You can't expect to see too much of Spidey before his proper introduction in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but what we did see raised more problems than the box office stunt was really worth. For me personally, I thought it was painfully obvious that he was there just to draw more people into the theaters. It's a given that Tony approached Peter Parker because he had been watching him, but having him join "Team Iron Man" was problematic.
First of all, it's a bit ridiculous because Peter is a minor and couldn't have signed the Sokovia Accords without a parent or guardian authorization. Seeing how Aunt May wasn't aware of Peter's double life leads us to believe that Peter never signed the agreement prior to traveling to Germany and fighting with Iron Man's team. That is, unless Tony got Aunt May to sign behind Peter's back.
Second of all, this basically introduces Spidey as a criminal. The title Homecoming leads me to believe that Spidey's solo film will occur after the events in Civil War as he returns to Queens and attempts to continue his work in the city. Unless the Aunt May theory is what really happened, Peter utilized his "enhancements" in Germany against the law despite being with Iron Man and upon his arrival in Queens, any action he takes as Spider-Man is in violation of the Sokovia Accords. That technically makes him a vigilante criminal along with Captain America and his team. As things currently stand, it's apparent that the writers didn't think of these issues before shoving him into the film with some pretty bad CGI.
3. Black Panther was awesome, but he floundered at the end
We can all collectively say that Black Panther was probably the most badass aspect of Civil War. He was a great character with enough development to get him off the ground and the introduction of his enhancements was beyond impressive. However, they couldn't seem to keep the same intensity going from beginning to end.
When we are introduced to T'Challa, it's implied by the King of Wakanda that he is a bit of a rebel and that it was impressive that he even showed up at the UN to support the Sokovia Accords. That rebellion comes to light as the King, T'Chakka, is killed in the UN bombing and T'Challa makes his full transformation into Black Panther. Fueled by revenge and anger, he is relentless in his pursuit of Bucky for murdering his father and basically stops at nothing to find him. This includes teaming up with Iron Man in Germany so he can get close enough to both Bucky and Captain America.
Well, it went well up until that point. When Cap and Bucky make their way to Russia to find and destroy Zemo, they are followed by Black Panther. After the reveal that Zemo's plan all along was to pit the Avengers against each other and that it wasn't Bucky who bombed the UN, we see a major shift in his persona and motivations. Not only does he show genuine compassion for Zemo, but he saves him from a suicide attempt. I understand the reasoning to show his maturity into a true King and leader, and not a vigilante, but it just felt forced given the direction his character had been going the entire movie. I was a bit disappointed.
2. There was too much going on
This was the problem we all had with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; we agree there was way too much going on at one time. When we see the title Civil War, we assume the film is going to be the fight between the Avengers. Unfortunately, that's not how things turned out. Not only is the fight between the Avengers team somewhat brief compared to the rest of the movie, it's mostly Bucky and Cap vs. Iron Man.
In addition to the main battle between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America, we were treated to:
- Yet another Winter Soldier subplot with Bucky
The Winter Soldier subplot with Zemo
The uncovering of the 1991 Hydra files
A pseudo origins for Black Panther
A pseudo origins for Spider-Man
Bottom line, there was just a lot of wasted time which leads us to the #1 reason.
1. Civil War should have been an Avengers movie
Marvel can get away with having a lot of subplots in an Avengers movie because we don't really have one central character to focus on. Civil War treated us to 13 "enhanced" heroes which is a significant increase from both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. That gives us a lot to focus on at one time and it obviously caused the story line to get a bit crammed, yet it was still pushed forward as a Captain America movie.
Some viewers are saying that Civil War portrayed Captain America in a great light by showing his continuous struggle to acclimate to modern culture and fears. No one is wrong about the fact that it does showcase that struggle, as well as his ability to take responsibility, but his story was cheated with the conflict between the Avengers and the government. The problem was the writers continued to try and continue a Captain America centralized undertone while the events going on were shared between multiple characters and his story wound up getting lost in translation.
Ideally, they could have introduced the Sokovia Accords with this third Captain America movie, but then just focused on the setup with Zemo, the rise of Bucky once again, and the developing issue of conflict among the team with the Accords. The actual war should have been a future movie, or even the rumored fourth Iron Man movie. The conflict was a bit more of an Iron Man story with his personal guilt and the story with his parents, but this wasn't supposed to be an Iron Man movie. Tony's guilt came to a breaking point when Captain America stood up and said "no."
For me personally, the theme of Civil War was just wasted among the abundance of subplots and obvious character inclusions just for the sake of fanboy orgasms. Marvel has a great direction and they have done a lot of awesome things, but it would appear with the release of Captain America: Civil War they have bit off a bit more than they can chew.
We've been promised an explosion with Thanos for about 4 years now. All we've seen are two cameos, some Infinity Stones, and we still aren't set to see a full development for another 2-3 years. I get they need to introduce other storylines in the mean time, but you can't cram Avengers-worthy plots into solo character movies just because you don't have time to visit them in between. That and they've already committed to developing new characters to carry the future of the cinematic universe.
Like I said, I enjoyed Civil War as a superhero movie. However, with the way they have developed Captain America's solo films with The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier, Civil War just didn't carry the tradition of greatness for me.