This is my Captain America: Civil War review that contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, please stop reading now! I also provide some insights and predictions on what’s to come. I also assume you’ve seen all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to date.
I’ve watched the movie twice now and I really like it. I even enjoyed it more the second time. Not only does it complete a trilogy of the Captain America movies, it also sets up Phase 3 of the MCU.
The Russo brothers did an excellent job directing some of the best comic book based movies of all time and I can’t wait for them to start with the Avengers Infinity War series. I’m amazed with how they handled action movies, considering that they are known for doing episodes of Arrested Development and Community.
Team Captain America
I am very much with Steve Rogers– Captain America. This is a great clip from the movie on Cap’s view on signing the Sokovia Accords:
The United Nations is run by people with agendas that change. Signing the papers means surrendering your right to choose. Time and again it’s been shown that government and institutions cannot be trusted. The US Senate, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the World Security Council (WSC) were all infiltrated by Hydra.
I agree with Steve Rogers, the safest hands are always your own.
During the Battle of New York, the WSC’s decision was to nuke the city to save the world. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the helicarriers were taken over by Hydra and were repurposed into global massive killing flying battleships. Both were terrible ideas that Iron Man and Captain America each had to fix.
In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers disobeys Colonel Chester Phillips and goes off to rescue Bucky and a hundred other captured US soldiers from the Hydra Nazis. This shows that Rogers not only has a strong friendship with Barnes but is also willing to do what he felt was right rather than be beholden to an authority.
The Sokovia Accords seem to conflict with the Good Samaritan law. Not that it should be used as a blanket excuse for all actions. The question becomes: is the enhanced being acting as a good samaritan/hero or for some other reason?
The issues present in Civil War are found in Disney’s The Incredibles. The government is paying for all the court cases and probably all the damage caused in the altercations by the Supers. There is also the cost of injuries sustained by the survivors, not to mention the loss of lives. If the Supers didn’t reveal their secret identities, the government relocated them and gave them new identities and amnesty so long as they never resume hero work.
In office scene with Gilbert Huph (Mr. Incredible) and his boss Bob, there are two sets of dialogue that show just what can happen when a business or institution has its own agenda against helping people.
How Customers Beat the Insurance System:
Bob: Did I do something illegal?
Gilbert Huph: [begrudgingly] No.
Bob: Are you saying we shouldn’t help our customers?
Gilbert Huph: [pacing back and forth] The law requires that I answer no.
Bob: We’re supposed to help people!
Gilbert Huph: We’re supposed to help our people! Starting with our stockholders, Bob! Who’s helping them out, Huh?
A Man Getting Mugged:
Gilbert Huph: Look at me when I’m talking to you, Parr!
Bob: [looking out the window] That man out there, he needs help!
Gilbert Huph: Do not change the subject, Bob! We’re discussing your attitude!
Bob: He is getting mugged!
Gilbert Huph: Well let’s hope we don’t cover him!
Bob: [leaving] I’ll be right back.
Gilbert Huph: Stop right now, or you’re fired!
Here’s the source for quotes above.
An insurance company is an example of an organization that is run by people. They’re supposed to help their customers, but they have an agenda to be profitable and keep their stockholders happy. Mr. Incredible is torn between his moral compass and the limitations set on him by his superior.
Despite the laws, heroes secretly save people in disguise. If they didn’t, people would suffer or die where normal law and rescue teams could not or were not able to help. In the end, the family of Incredibles and Frozone join together to defeat the villain Syndrome and his hero killing robot.
The Civil War series makes a stronger case for registration and accountability than the MCU. The story starts with a reckless group of enhanced humans, the New Warriors, that gets into a fight resulting in an explosion that killed over 600 people. This was known as the Stamford Incident, and brought about the Superhuman Registrations Act.
In the literature, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers, and other lesser known teams all co-exist in one universe. The MCU is much smaller as we know it. If anything, the MCU is one universe in multiple universes if you want to count Fox, Sony, and Universal as separate studio universes– although you can say that Sony and MCU have merged with Spider-Man.
What makes the comics situation more compelling is that there are more catastrophic incidents with more heroes, villains, and victims at play. The New Warriors were running a reality TV show and took on more than they could handle, didn’t have sufficient training, and their action only made things worse. Their goal was to look good for TV and celebrity status, not save people.
In 2008, the first Iron Man movie started us all down a path towards the formation of the Avengers and the MCU we all love. In Iron Man 2, the US government wants the Iron Man suit, weapons, and technologies. Tony flat out tells them, “You want my property, you can’t have it!” At the end of the movie, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s assessment approved Iron Man for the Avengers Initiative, but not Tony Stark because he had compulsive behavior, self-destructive tendencies, and textbook narcissism.
Tony Stark sings to a different tune in Civil War. His character has gone through some changes and I can see why he would support the Sokovia Accords. It’s his way of making amends for some serious mis-steps from Stark Industries creating weapons for enemies to his AI gone wrong, Ultron, that led to the Battle of Sokovia. He’s also seen some serious shit in the Chitauri invasion in New York City, flying a nuke through a wormhole with no plan of returning, and all his enemies coming after him in three of his own movies. It’s no wonder he’s suffering PTSD.
It’s clear that it is Tony Stark who shouldn’t be trusted to operate with unlimited power and no supervision.
Captain America has also operated with unlimited power and authority. He’s always been right and chose the lesser of two evils. The criticism of how Scarlet Witch handled Crossbone’s blast is without proper context. The casualties would have been greater if she did not lift it above. Given the situations, it’s like choosing between bad and worse than bad.
If the Sokovia Accords were about making improvements to the performance of the team, that’s one thing– because everyone and everything can improve. But it’s really about appeasing the victims and ceding power to the United Nations. The task force that went to hunt down the Winter Soldier after the UN bombing operated on bad intelligence with shoot-to-kill orders based on grainy surveillance video.
I question if Black Panther was even on Team Iron Man. He was out to seek vengeance on his own. In the UN meeting before the blast, he spoke with Black Widow and said that two people in a room can get more done than a whole lot of people (the UN). His father countered that you would need many people if you need to move a piano. The funny thing is this is only true if you’re talking about average people– when it comes to enhanced individuals, one or two people may just be enough!
Black Widow’s decision to help Rogers and Barnes escape made a lot of sense. She has a dark past and at one point was Hawkeye’s target to take out– but he chose not to kill her because there was someone in there worth saving. Besides knowing that Cap wouldn’t quit helping Bucky, there must have been some kind of empathy towards what Hydra put Barnes through.
A young teen Spider-Man was also a welcome addition to the film. I thought the Peter Parker scene in Queens, New York was short, but I understand that they will flesh out that story and those characters in his own movie next year. I suspect that Aunt May knows that her nephew is Spider-Man. The age of clueless supporting characters may be over. Over the many reboots, they seem to cast a younger Aunt May each time. Marisa Tomei is likely that hip aunt that plays along to let Peter think he has her fooled.
Ant-Man was hilarious. I laughed at every single line he had. I wasn’t a huge fan of his solo movie, but Paul Rudd is a comedic character that adds so much humor to any situation.
Vison was somewhat absent during the airport battle– perhaps if he and/or Scarlett Witch really fought, the fight would have been deadly and short. It seemed that his role was to keep them from escaping or hurting one another too much. I would have liked if they had a shot of him floating in the middle of all the chaos of super friends fighting one another, and there to be an sadness to his eyes.
I particularly liked Baron Zemo’s comment about Captain America having some green in his blue eyes– a sign that he’s not perfect. This line then led to the part where he showed Stark the big video reveal, revealing that Rogers kept such a dark secret from Tony– for selfish reasons. I really enjoyed this break from villains being just the evil versions with the same powers/abilities as the hero.
Zemo won at the end of the film, and he did so because he used the heroes against one another. Sure, his plan to get Rogers, Barnes, and Stark in the same room at the end to watch the 1991 VHS was a bit far fetched, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief that everything would fall into place like that. The other five winter soldiers as a misdirect was interesting. I would have loved to see them fight at the end, but I understand that would have added another fifteen minutes to the movie and possibly taken away from the trio’s big fight against each other.
Final Thoughts and Phase 3 Predictions
The movie ended with the Avengers broken apart and half of the Avengers as fugitives from the United Nations for going against the Sokovia Accords. Civil War is going to play out throughout MCU’s Phase 3, particularly in Spiderman: Homecoming, Black Panther, and maybe even Ant-Man and the Wasp. There needs to be some kind resolution to the conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
What better way is there to resolve super hero conflict than the death of friends?
Tony Stark had a vision of the fallen Avengers in space in Age of Ultron. The scene where a mortally wounded Captain America says to Tony, “You could have saved us…”, is going to happen. Team Cap is going to confront a big threat without UN approval, and Team Iron Man is not going to join, resulting in at least the deaths of Hulk, Thor, Scarlett Witch, and Hawkeye.
I predict that Spider-Man is going to switch to Team Cap by the end of his own movie. Tony Stark irresponsibly brought in a teenage Peter Parker, who had no formal training into the airport battle. Imagine if he had hurt someone or was seriously hurt himself? He was told everything by an agenda-driven Tony Stark. Go for Cap’s legs. He’s wrong. Peter Parker was just fed this without a chance to think about it himself.
The idea for regulation of enhanced beings by the UN isn’t outright wrong. The concerning part is that it requires registration, and any non-complying participant is deemed an enemy to the world governments, punishable by being locked up in an underground ocean prison.
The Avengers’ initiative was formed because the planet would need Earth’s mightiest heroes to help them in times of great crisis. There will be a time when a greater threat comes along and the UN Council will not know what to do. They may not be able to see beyond Earth when the fate of the universe is at hand.
Captain America: Civil War has the tone of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. They’ve come a long way to come together as a team, but have lost their footing and are separated. We don’t know how they are going to get back up and come together before the ultimate confrontation. We’re only at the beginning of Phase 3, there’s so much more to come!
- Civil War TPB
- Kingdom Come - DC’s futuristic world where heroes have gotten out of control.
- Civil War - The Complete Story read by Comicstorian
- The Avengers should agree to be placed under UN supervision via The Economist (Yes, it’s a bit silly)
- The un-American Captain America by Ezra Klein
- Captain America: Civil War: in defense of Captain America by Alex Abad-Santos