March 13, 2017

Captain America: Civil War

Anthony Russo, Joe Russo - 2016
Along with the Iron Man films, the Captain America Marvel installments have proven to be the most dependable and consistent, possibly even more than the former. Winter Soldier was such a solid film that I was convinced I will give them all a view when the opportunity arose. When I was browsing through Netflix and saw Civil War - the only thing keeping me from putting it on for so long was the 147 minute run time. Interestingly enough, while Captain America is a central figure in the film, Civil War could really be a stand-alone film not bound to the Captain America narrative. This is the first film to put normally very friendly characters at odds with each other. There's always the small conflicts and differences between the various characters but this is the first outright battle story.

Faced with the global ramifications of some of the collalteral damage that the Avengers created, the UN has drafted an agreement holding the Avengers accountable for their actions. Tony Stark, feeling the weight of his actions, is eager to sign the agreement while Steve / Captain America is against doing so. The main thing keeping Steve from signing is it pits him against his old friend Bucky (Winter Soldier) who has been accused of a terrorist attack and is now a global target. Steve being loyal and protective to Bucky forces him to create a Captain America vs. Iron Man dilemma.

The tension builds between Tony and Steve and while the divide grows between them, they both build their own camps on each side. It all erupts into one of the big moments which of course is the battle sequence between them all. The delicate balance of conflict leading up to it is so impressively well-done. It's also another great showcase of these well developed characters in the Marvel Universe coming together in these big moments.

Civil War actually did something for me that hasn't been done since I saw the first Avengers film back in 2012. I admit that, like many other people, had become fatigued a bit by the constant superhero movie drops. Since that Avengers film, I would casually check in with the Marvel universe periodically, never at release point but with more of a "when i get to it" attitude. What continued to be absent for me was that level of excitement that I would get. That little boy excitement. Can't even remember the last time I had a gross sense of that excitement. Decades ago probably. But Civil War managed to resurrect at least a hint of it. Civil War also managed to resurrect a character that I had written off in Spiderman. Being a fan of the Tobey Maguire Spiderman films, when it was announced that Maguire was no longer going to be involved in the franchise and Andrew Garfield was taking over in a rebooted version I basically checked out. For me it was going to be just another product of money-hungry studios rebooting the shit out of everything and their inability to turn down the next dollar-making opportunity.

Tom Holland brings an energy to Spiderman that should have always been there. High School-age innocence and youthful naivety. Tobey Maguire was 27 when he played Peter Parker for the first time so of course he just wasn't able to fully capture a high school student. But Holland is 21, and could easily pass for a 17 year old. When he meets Tony Stark for the first time, he is at a loss for words and is completely star-struck. Later when in costume doing his thing, he talks too much and makes rookie mistakes just like any high school age kid would 6 months into having superpowers. There's a lot to look forward to with Holland in the Spidey suit. It seems like Marvel Studios cutting a deal with Sony may have saved the character from total mediocrity.

The level of quality that these films are working with should override the cultural fatigue that the marketing executives are inadvertantly unleashing upon us. There's no reason to believe that these films are going to degrade anytime soon.

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