No spoilers. The only details discussed here are seen in the previews.
I took my mom to see Captain America: Civil War for Mother’s Day. Having her as my guest highlighted the key problem of the film. She’d seen the first two Iron Man movies, and the first Avengers movie, but that wasn’t enough.
Vision. He was the voice inside Iron Man’s suit. In the last Avengers film he became a real boy.
Who’s that? Ant-Man.
That’s a superpower?
Captain America: Civil War has great, long fight scenes with beautiful people in as many cool settings as a James Bond film. Maybe two Bonds.
There’s an interesting core conflict set up between Statists led by Iron Man and Libertarians led by Captain America, but it gets lost as superheroes dogpile on their respective teams. There are way too many characters — 14 superheroes/villains, and that’s without the Hulk and Thor — and at 2.5 hours, well… if I’m in pain because I have to pee, your movie’s too damn long.
Is it worth seeing? Yes. But it felt more like a setup for future films than a film that stands on its own, and in that sense it had the same weakness as Batman vs Superman. It would have been a better movie at 90 minutes with a focused story and half as many characters.
That said, I particularly enjoyed Spider-Man as presented in this film. The scene with Tony Stark at his apartment, hitting on Aunt May (now played by Marisa Tomei), was the best in the film.
The rest of it was running and beating and exploding and having some dialogue and going back at it again.
If I’d been editor — and I mean at the screenplay level, not after shooting — I’d have kept it Captain America and Bucky vs Iron Man and Black Panther, maybe with the Spider-Man cameos because that was genuine fun. Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, Black Widow… geez, it started to feel like Return of the King, which is where I tuned out of Tolkienville.
I suspect it’s just a personality thing. It’s the same reason I prefer boxing to football, The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings, and Misery to The Stand. I enjoy a simple story with someone I can root for.
In Captain America: Civil War I found myself agreeing with Captain America, of course — and isn’t that funny? Have you noticed how often in the movies of liberal Hollywood, the government is the bad guy? This isn’t just recent stuff. The bad guy in Ghostbusters (1984) was the regional director of the EPA. In Legends of the Fall (1994), the father, felled by a stroke, manages just enough breath to say “Screw the government!,” and in The Incredibles (2004) it’s the heavy-handed feds who force the strongest Americans to go into hiding.
In CA:CW, Steve Rogers talks like a 1950s vet suspicious of the United Nations, and Tony Stark sounds like a neocon apologizing for the Patriot Act. More of that would have been edifying, along with some focused anger, and not just “You didn’t sign the treaty, naughty boy.” But, you know, *kapow* and *kablooie* and so forth. There’s a lot of that, and it looks and sounds great. Now take these 14 action figures and go play in the yard with your sister! And save up your money for Doctor Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 (2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), Captain Marvel (2019), Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 (2019) and the three films we haven’t even named yet for 2020! This is not marketing, it’s all about story!*
*Disney, owner of Marvel Entertainment, is currently at $105/share.