Anthony and Joe Russo's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
A movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Somewhere in Tinseltown (or Marvel headquarters) there’s a massive wall chart representing original and reboot/revisionist timelines for all things Marvel.
Maybe it’s based on a computer model representing characters, events, dates, crossovers, and reboots.
The system supports various ways to render different views of the Marvel universe: everything that happens to Captain America past, present, and future, Tony Stark’s backstories; all villains; locations on Earth, in space, and elsewhere.
Perhaps there’s also an underlying model that calculates plausibility scores of different scenarios, but we are talking about comic books here, not real world war games.
CIVIL WAR plays like someone sat down with a keyboard and mouse with such a program and filled out a storyline requirements profile with the goal of maximizing the number of characters that can be shoehorned into a movie with just enough focus on the main conflict, the “Civil War” among the Avengers and their buddies. (Oh yeah, let’s also include a different version of Spider-Man along with a more contemporary Aunt May.)
The resulting movie is a mess. It goes to such great lengths to include as many characters and event references as possible in as many physical locations as possible (due to the growing importance of international over domestic sales) that it even throws in a Marvel character funeral for good measure (SELECT DESIRED METHOD OF INCLUSION FROM FOLLOWING LIST: (a) physical interaction with main characters (b) mention in conversation by a main character (c) reference by secondary character (d) on-TV mention by CNN anchor (d) funeral).
We get the massive fight scenes, the annoying shaky cam, the implausible close-quarter fighting, the by-the-numbers-music, and attempts to seriously focus on the concept of collateral damage and accidental deaths while maintaining a light enough tone to raise a laugh or two.
I actually preferred Batman v Superman and the recent Fantastic Four over Captain America: Civil War. While I respect how Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans have managed to create likable personas for their characters, in CIVIL WAR they are swimming upstream against an almost suffocating tide of fan service and entangling toy sales marketing.
Review copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald