Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Captain America: Civil War

On Saturday evening, May 21, we went to see the latest Marvel superhero movie, Captain America: Civil War. While Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is the nominal protagonist, it is really part of the mainstream "Avengers" plotline, as most of the Avengers (with the exception of Thor and Hulk) appear, as well as some new important characters.

The plot opens in Lagos, Nigeria, where the Avengers are on stake-out, waiting for action by mercenary criminal Crossbones (Frank Grillo). Crossbones and his gang succeed in seizing a dangerous biological sample. The Avengers manage to recover the sample in a relatively low-profile exploit, but things go wrong when Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) redirects the blast of Crossbones' suicide bomb away from Captain America, but loses control and damages an apartment building, killing envoys of the reclusive nation of Wakanda.

The team gets raked over the coals, ignoring the fact that the Skrull invasion of New York, the Ultron incidents, and the Lagos situation would all have ended far worse had the Avengers not intervened. They are presented with the "Sokovia Accords", named for the East European country devastated by Ultron, a United Nations resolution which requires that the Avengers operate only under the oversight of a U.N. panel. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) supports the measure due to guilt feelings. Rogers, however, objects, arguing that individual conscience is a better guide than political agendas.

Stark and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) go to the United Nations complex in Vienna for the signing of the accords. The building is attacked by a vehicle-borne IED, which kills King T'Chaka of Wakanda. When Bucky Barnes, the "Winter Soldier" (Sebastian Stan), is implicated in the attack, a three-way manhunt begins. Cap and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), try to get to Barnes before an international task force with shoot-on-sight orders, managed by Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman, refreshingly playing a jerky government thug--), while T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), now King of Wakanda, hunts Barnes for his own revenge. This snowballs into a major confrontation, with none of the respective players knowing that they are being manipulated by another unknown hand.

Captain America: Civil War, does a nice job of encapsulating the freedom versus accountability debate that raged in the pages of Marvel comics, and handles the subject with both dignity and passion. While there is right on both sides, Captain America's position is of course the sentimental favorite. To the movie-maker's credit, the issue is not wrapped up at the end of this film, although we can see which way the wind is blowing.

I do tend to agree with other critics that this may be one of the best superhero movies made to date, although not without its flaws. I didn't find Tony Stark's berserkergang in the final combat particularly believable, it seemed out of character. It was good to see the new characters, which I thought were done generally well: Black Panther, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd, new to me, not having seen the Ant-Man movie), and Tom Holland as the newest Spider-Man. Peter Parker is somewhat of a problematical characterization, since Downey's Stark gets all the wisecracks that have long been Spider-Man's trademark, and Scott Lang/Ant-Man has some of the humor, which leaves Parker as a hyper-nerdy kid. (Spider-Man<>: [to Bucky] "You have a metal arm? That is AWESOME, dude!") Time will tell if this will stand up for long--. I found the characterization of Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) to be interesting and well tied-in with the theme of the movie and totally unlike the comics' Baron Zemo, who was Marvel's second-string Doctor Doom.

Next up from the Marvel Movie Machine is Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbach, and coming out this November. Of course, they had a trailer for it along with Captain America, and it looks great, potentially. We look forward to it.

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