Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a sidekick blog in a super hero internet. I'm Dave-El and I have the power of 10 mosquitoes plus two.

This weekend, the El family ventured out from the Fortress of Ineptitude to go see Captain America: Civil War

And when I say, ventured out, I mean way OUT like another state.

But that's a post for another day. Or perhaps never. The less said the better.

Anyway, I could just write that Captain America: Civil War is freakin’ awesome and may be the best Marvel movie ever! I mean, it’s not like I get paid by the word. Hell, I don’t get paid at all. 

And quite frankly, Captain America: Civil War is freakin’ awesome and may be the best Marvel movie ever covers things quite nicely.

But I suppose I should elaborate on why I think that Captain America: Civil War is freakin’ awesome and may be the best Marvel movie ever.

First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room, that this is the SECOND super hero movie with a comic publisher’s icons in battle with each other. But Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice from DC Comics and Warner Bros underscores how to NOT build a share cinematic super hero universe. Or for that matter, how to NOT build a decent, watchable movie. The pitfalls that hobbled BVS:DoJ do not handicap CA:CW.

While CA:CW is built on a foundation of continuity built over the course of all the prior Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the film effectively bullet points what we need to know from those earlier films. So if you’re only a casual fan of the MCU, anything you need to know to get through this move is there in this movie.  While there are seeds sown for future MCU films, there are very few questions in CA:CW that require the answer, "We'll answer that in the next movie."

While Captain America is in the title, this is very much an Avengers film. That being said, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America is the heart of this movie. The captain makes choices for what he feels are the best reasons and sometimes he's right and sometimes he's wrong but his heart is in the right place. It's that moral center that drives this movie and impacts all the characters in it. Maybe its an Avengers movie in disguise but Captain America is definitely the driving force for the film's drama and action.

At the center of the film is a directive known as the Sokovia Accords, a UN sanctioned oversight of the Avengers. On the pro-side of this action is Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. Once again, Robert Downey Jr completely owns the role of Stark who finds his ego and his intellect in conflict with his need to do the right thing and his guilt over not always getting it right. Recent losses of life resulting from the actions of the Avengers, not matter how inadvertent, have compounded that guilt.  

Steve Rogers points out the problem with the Accords is that they can keep the Avengers out of a situation where the Avengers can be of help or sent into a situation that they really have no business handling.

What is unsettling here for these two heroes and the audience watching this play out is they both have a point and from moment to moment as CA:CW plays out, it's possible to go from agreeing with Steve to agreeing with Tony and back again.

The crux of Steve and Tony's disagreement is personified in the form of the Winter Soldier. Formerly Steve's friend from World War II, Bucky Barnes appear to die in the first Captain America film but was revealed in the 2nd movie to have been captured and turned into Hydra's own super soldier. A bomb attack at the UN signing of the Sovokia Accords is attributed to the Winter Soldier. Killed in the bombing is the king of Wakanda and his son and heir, T'Challa, is not going to let the Winter Soldier escape the vengeance of the Black Panther.

But Steve Rogers not only thinks that redemption may be possible for his old friend but also believes things are not what they seem. And they're not.

Manipulating events behind the scenes is a mysterious operative named Zemo. But not everyone sees the strings being pulled. All Iron Man knows is Captain America's refusal to sign the Accords and his defense of Winter Soldier is jeopardizing the Avengers and their mission to protect the world. So Iron Man gathers up some buddies and Captain America gets a team together and it is on.

On Team Iron Man, we get the highly anticipated MCU debut of Spider-Man. Actor Tom Holland is amazing as Peter Parker and his fast paced patter as Spider-Man makes this a most entertaining movie version of our Friendly Neighborhood Wallcrawler.

Over on Team Captain America, we get the latest appearance of last year's surprise MCU superstar, Ant Man. Paul Rudd is perfect as the affable Scott Lang who gushes like a fanboy over meeting Captain America. And Ant Man has a great sequence where he sneaks into Iron Man's armor for a little sabotage. 

Tony: Who else is in here with me?
Scott: It's your conscience. Sorry, we haven't spoken for awhile.

The fight sequence is amazing for all its power and action but what really makes it stand out is that these two sets of heroes are fighting on opposing sides of an ideal but not necessarily against each other. Black Widow asks Hawkeye, "We're still friends, right?"

Hawkeye for his part introduces himself to Black Panther.

Hawkeye: Hi, I'm Clint.
Black Panther: I don't care.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man can't stop gushing about all these heroes, even the ones he's fighting against. One of those on the other side, Falcon, has to give Spider-Man some advice that these fights are supposed to have less talking. 

But things take a turn for the dark. Black Widow on Team Iron Man helps Captain America and Winter Soldier escape in an Avengers Quinjet. Iron Man and War Machine are in hot pursuit of the jet and Falcon is bearing fast to stop our two armored heroes. On the ground below, the Vision is worried about Scarlet Witch (yeah, comic book fans, they're going there) and zaps out an energy beam to take out Falcon. But Falcon swerves to miss and War Machine gets struck instead. Totally dead in the air, Rhodey comes crashing down to earth before Falcon or Iron Man can stop him.

Meanwhile, Steve and Bucky have made their way to a secret Hydra base in Russia where we find Zemo has found 5 other Winter Soldiers...and killed them. Zemo had no use for these augmented fighters. Everything was done to manipulate the Avengers in becoming divided. "A nation destroyed by an enemy can rise again," Zemo says, "But a nation destroyed from within can never recover."

Bringing up the rear is Iron Man and Black Panther. The latter realizes the truth of what happened with the bombing that killed his father, that Winter Soldier was not to blame for that.

But Tony Stark finds info on some people that Winter Soldier did in fact kill: his parents. Iron Man takes out Winter Soldier but Captain Amerca is still defending Bucky.

Steve: He's my friend.
Tony: So was I.

And it is on. But unlike the earlier battle with groups of heroes going after each because of a disagreement over an ideal, this is a brutally personal battle between Steve and Tony. And in the end, in a relentless assault of Steve's shield (which I may remind you was invented by Tony's father) on Tony's arc reactor, Iron man goes down and stays down. Steve leaves behind his shield and disappears with Bucky.

In the end, we see Tony at Avengers HQ trying to help Rhodey walk again. Here, Tony gets a letter from Steve. (Those WWII guys and their letters.) Basically, despite their differences and their conflicts, Steve lets Tony know that whenever Tony and the Avengers need him, he will be there.

In a mid credits scene, we see Bucky re-entering suspended animation until his mental conditioning can be reversed and he is no longer a danger to anyone. And where is this happening? In Wakanda as we see T'Challa doing Steve and Bucky a solid.

The post credit scene, we check in one more time with Peter Parker and his incredibly hot Aunt May. (No, I'm not making that up. Aunt May is hot!) 

So any nits to pick at? Well, the one that really stands out (and it's a doozy) is the incredibly specific and well edited security footage showing Winter Soldier killing Stark's parents. That is just too useful, like plot point specific newscasts or radio bulletins.

And one more thing and it's not a gripe but it was a bit disconcerting. Every time the scene changed to a new city, the graphic used to identify the city abruptly fills the entire screen. It got to be a bit silly.

Otherwise, this was yet another solid effort from Marvel Studios with a movie that was exciting and fun and yes, even made me think. In other words....

Captain America: Civil War is freakin’ awesome and may be the best Marvel movie ever!

Thanks for dropping by. Tomorrow, Comic Book Theme Week continues here on the blog with a special edition of Oddball Super Heroes. Sometimes, super heroes are not really that oddball but may sometimes have oddball thrust upon them. Tomorrow, Captain America gets oddball!

Thursday, I'll present a write up on this year's Free Comic Book Day. And after riffing on Marvel, I'll take a look on Friday at DC Comics' upcoming Rebirth and decide if I care or not.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another. It's what Captain America would want you to do. 

Well, It's Monday Again.

Well, it's Monday again.  It keeps happening.  This weekend, I think I finally moved beyond my sinus infection and/or tick bite. My ...