Did you check your watch during Captain America: Civil War?
I saw Captain America: Angsting War and my friends couldn’t stop checking their watch, which was really annoying. When they weren’t wondering when it was going to be over, they were squinting in confusion at the screen. I wasn’t annoyed by the length, but there are ten times as many references as any movie I’ve ever seen, franchise or otherwise. The only other time I can remember a movie being so self-referential was the Star Wars prequels, but this three hour superhero battle movie is much better than that, at least. That’s good, right?
This movie has a lot of plot points and subplots. You’ve got The Winter Soldier brainwashing plot, the Civil War rivalry plot thing, the Black Panther subplot and Tony dealing with his ego, but we also get developments with Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Hawkeye. Whew. Could they jam any more into this movie?
The first half of the movie feels bloated for some reason. The superheroes don’t just cause an incident, no—it has to be a full blown fifteen minute battle with Crossbones and his pals. Who is Crossbones? It’s never explained. His character is defeated and he’s never mentioned ever again. Were those guys Hydra? I don’t get it. They act like they’ve fought before and it’s annoying.
Scarlet Witch blows up stuff and everybody gets ticked off, so they pass the superhero registration act, but in the movie it’s not the registration act, it’s the United Nations Accords. These Accords put rules and regulations on the Avengers, who keep blowing stuff up. And because of that, everyone is all angsty. Zemo is made into an angsty terrorist because the Avengers blew stuff up. The US Secretary General keeps yelling at them for blowing stuff up. Black Panther gets ticked off (and angsty) because his Dad got blown up by a terrorist gunning for the Avengers. Hey guys, we get it. They’re reckless.
The tone is pretty consistent, except for a few places where it stalls and veers off into stupid-land. The stuff with the Vision was terrible and his struggle to be human is left at the curb during this movie. He accidentally blows up one of his teammates but there’s no payoff, except for the teammate, who’s now paralyzed. Don’t worry, he gets new technology to walk so he’s fine. They don’t really have time to go into much of the character of The Vision anyway (or anything else). Spider-Man’s quips are great, but there are a couple of places where the comedy is not timed right, like when The Winter Solider banters with Falcon in a car.
The references keep on coming. Scott Lang joins the movie. Who is he? I guess I better watch the Ant-Man movie cause I skipped that one. He references Hank Pym. Who is that? Spider-Man complains that he can’t just leave for Germany to help the Avengers because he actually has a life, but he goes anyway and the whole thing is never touched on again. Why is Tony Stark interested in a kid like him anyway? Because he caught a bus? So what? The Hulk can do the same thing. By the way, where is he? Nobody cares. Hawkeye returns as fan service and he reminds us that he has a family now. Who are they? We never find out. Where is The Raft? Does it belong to the United Nations? Why does it exist? And best of all, why does Cap kiss Sharon Carter? Have they gone on dates off-screen? I guess I’m missing something.
The premise of this movie is what sells it, despite there being way too many subplots and references. It’s like a giant-size team-up book from the 70s but done in a modern style. Still, Cap: Civil War is definitely not as gripping and tense as Cap: The Winter Soldier. It also doesn’t have the style of the first Avengers movie, where the team-up is epic and more dramatic in scope. It’s as if the writers knew this and tried to outdo all previous entries to the Marvel movie Universe by having more action, more characters, and more surprises. It comes off as overstuffed for this reason. Thor and the Hulk aren’t even in this movie, that’s how overstuffed it is.
Anyone who hasn’t seen all the Marvel movies is going to be lost in Captain America: Civil War. Why isn’t Gwyneth Paltrow or Mark Ruffalo in this movie? Who knows. Still, the time spent on the Tony Stark versus Steve Rogers rivalry is solid gold, but they have to toss in other stuff like Tony’s parents to add even more layers to a simple story. Why? None of the complementary characters get enough to do, so characters like Black Window are just there to deliver some dialogue and be in on the action. I will say that the action is great and there’s no slow motion or awkward angles to complicate it. The stunts are awesome. I can’t complain about that because that’s the best part of the movie. I’m just underwhelmed by all the fan-service and guest-appearances, but that could be because I already know these characters from reading about them for years when I was a kid. I’d hate to be brand new to Marvel coming into this overcrowded movie, because I’d be lost.