It’s a glorious showcase of the fatal flaws, not only of the MCU in specific, but of Cinematic Universes as a whole. The balloon all too quickly expands until it’s unrecognizable and eventually it pops.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Written By: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Let’s start with a question: How do you follow a movie that was both satisfying and successful? Plenty of directors or studios have had to ask themselves this over the years. Even the Russos themselves when they made Captain America: Winter Soldier. (For the record, the best Marvel Studios movie. Period. There hasn’t been a movie in the MCU that handled source material, the constraints of the ongoing storyline and character development as well as that movie.) So how do you tackle that challenge?
Do you try to bring things to a close, with the possibility that Chris Evans didn’t want to continue being Captain America post-Infinity Wars? Do you, as Christopher Nolan once described sequels, “blow up the balloon even more?” Do you bank on the assumption that there’s enough pieces in place to continue without Evans?
Do you try to follow up your movie?
Do you worry about the MCU at large?
If you’re Kevin Feige and Disney, you take a different route. If you’re Disney, you’re not making creative decisions, you’re making business decisions. So you have to consider the competition. Most notably, DC’s Cinematic Universe that, at that time, was still only in its early stages as opposed to today when it’s bleeding out. You worry about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which was following up the successful but controversial, Man of Steel.
You can’t have the first MCU movie following the first on-screen meeting of DC’s two biggest characters and debut of the third just be a Captain America movie! You have to go for the kill. You make Captain America: Civil War!
For the first ten minutes or so, things look really promising. In a way, we open where we left off at the end of Winter Solider. Steve’s on the lookout for Bucky and trying to clean up the remnants of Hydra, namely Crossbones. There’s a nice action sequence that ends with collateral damage that will drive the plot for the next two hours and then…
Tony Stark shows up and much like he’s loomed over the MCU as a whole, he changes this movie into basically another Iron Man/Avengers movie. Suddenly, it’s stuffed to the gills with characters and plotlines that muddy the waters. Vision and War Machine and General Ross and UN Oversight and Wakanda and on and on…
Oh, there’s a valiant effort to try and get back to the interesting, personal story that this could have been. How Bucky was used to murder Tony Stark’s parents and Steve’s put between his oldest friend and a man who is becoming his best friend. How much of a better movie would that Civil War have been we’ll never know.
All we have is this one.
There’s too much going on and none of it resonates. Zemo and his need to find “Mission Report, December 16th, 1991” feels more like a deliberate attempt to create a new “Hail Hydra” meme instead of a villain. I’m not sure what Black Panther or Spider-Man or about half the characters are doing in this movie other than adding to the spectacle. In the end, there’s far too much going on that I don’t care about and not nearly enough going on that I would care about.
It’s bloated and corporate and you can see the gears moving the whole time. Even then it’s not a terrible movie like Justice League it’s just a movie that squanders its potential by not doing enough to make the viewer care.
In the end, that’s a much bigger sin than being terrible.
Well, as Forrest Gump once said. “Sorry I spoiled your Black Panther party.” But the party does continue, so come back for Astonishing Marvel’s Seven Days of Black Panther.