Captain America (2016): Civil War

Posted: May 10, 2016 in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
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Following several major operations by the Avengers, public concern for the collateral damage has risen significantly. In particular, the massive destruction in Sokovia and the death of innocent people in Lagos have sent the UN into a frenzy and added significant guilt to Tony Stark’s confidence. General Thaddeus Ross brings the superheroes the new Sokovia Accords, detailing new regulations and limitations on the Avengers. While Tony pushes for the group to sign and claim accountability for their actions, Steve Rogers expresses significant hesitation about giving up their freedom to protect the innocent. The group begins to divide toward the two sides, but the reemergence of Bucky Barnes and the assassination of King T’Chaka brings the conflict to boiling point, as Steve tries to save his longtime friend from what he believes is a false set of accusations. Steve and Tony build up their support until their conflict truly comes to a head.

Philosophical Differences: Oddly enough, this was actually the second superhero film to promote this concept this year. Batman v. Superman provided concerns over power and vigilantism, with the government being a background element to the conflict. Captain America took that concept to a different level. Steve Rogers was concerned about what regulation would mean for the group’s ability to succeed as collection of heroes. If the UN disagreed with sending the heroes to a third world nation or a place they deemed unnecessary to intervene, the Avengers would be left unable to help innocent people. He feared special interests controlling their actions. For Tony, the loss of life had started to catch up to him and he believed that a diplomatic effort would start to account for their lack of accountability.

This conflict came to a greater divide when Bucky Barnes was reintroduced to the world stage. Believed to have committed the assassination of King T’Chaka, Bucky became a wanted man but also was marked for death as a terrorist. Steve looked to save his friend but intervening meant going against the Accords. Tony took the hard stance on holding Steve accountable and taking in any supporters going rouge. This eventually leads the two sides to engage in a massive battle to prevent or allow Steve to continue his effort to clear his friend’s name.

Introducing the Next Wave: While many of the heroes have had their moment to shine already, Black Panther and Spider-Man were brought into the mix in this scuffle. Both were given a simplified introduction, but it was just enough to set up their involvement in the film and encourage interest in their future feature films.

For Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman brought a distinguished presence to the prince of Wakanda. Before donning the black suit, he engages with a few of the heroes in a diplomatic fashion. While he seeks to bring a sense of peace for his nation and his people, he is also willing to fight for them. His power is phenomenal and his agility rivals that of Captain America.

For Spider-Man, Marvel decided to go with a younger, more energetic hero. Skipping ahead of the tragedy that marked the start of his career, the teenager’s introduction was marked with inexperience and quite a hint of humor. Partnering with Tony Stark might mean more for the future of hero’s development, as he already received an upgrade in his suit and his gadgets. There is a lot of potential to reconnect with the magic experienced in the first iteration of Tobey’s Spiderman.

Setting Up the Future: While this film advanced the story of Bucky Barnes and introduced an unfortunate connection between the character’s past and the future of the Avengers, there was some imbalance in the story’s use of its heroes. Vision and Scarlett Witch were reintroduced with a sense of a friendship, but their story seemed glossed over as to how they connected between Avengers: Age of Ultron and their current situation. While Vision has concerns about the Infinity Stone in his forehead, they both seem to be struggling with the true nature of their powers. Ant-Man felt like a bit of a toss-in with no real character development or explanation for why he actually chose Team Captain America.

As for the where the series seems to be going (besides the eventual conflict with Thanos), there are some truly unresolved issues that will need to be addressed. The Avengers are currently divided and scattered, leaving the world vulnerable to a major attack. Captain America has given up his mantle and reverted back to Captain Steve Rogers. Will there be a Secret Avengers stepping in to save the world? How will Iron Man and the remnants of the SHIELD step up to manage under their new direction?

Final Verdict: While the film boasts some of the best action in the modern superhero genre, the storytelling ended up feeling just a little less balanced than the overall predictions boasted. There was a lot to enjoy in the progression of the MCU, particularly in the twist connection between the heroes and the potential for the future wave of heroes. Spider-Man and Black Panther were particularly intriguing. The villains actually played a backseat in this one, leaving the conflict to be more philosophical than other hero films. Some will love it, while others may feel a little left to be desired. It is important to remember that this is an adaptation of the Civil War story, but it has been infused into the Captain America storyline with an intention of preparing for Infinity War.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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