Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Captain America: Civil War RETRO-REVIEW

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So unfortunately there was no new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last night because the Vice-Presidential Debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence took precedence.  So, like any good, patriotic American, I turned on my television to watch two men, one with red in his suit and one with blue in his suit, coming from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum in terms of the security-vs.-freedom debate, fight it out on an international stage.

That’s right:  I watched Captain America: Civil War.

(What, you thought I would actually watch the Vice-Presidential Debate???  Come on!)

Consequently, this seems like as good a time as any to look back at my original review of Civil War from May and see how time and repeated viewing (and deleted scenes) changes/improves opinions of the movie.

I have to be honest, I don’t think there’s really any way to improve my view of the movie from when I first saw it.  I thought it was absolutely incredible as a tour de force of everything the comic book movie has to offer.  A lot of incredible action set pieces.  Excellent character development for just about all the characters.  A surprisingly-compelling villain (even if he doesn’t get too much more screen time than Ant-Man).  Serious questions of security vs. freedom.  And ultimately, this is perhaps the most small and personal conflict in the entire MCU.

That was what I thought after my first viewing in theaters.  And to be completely honest my views haven’t changed drastically since then.  I still think that the airport fight scene is probably one of the best large-scale action sequences in a comic book movie, and even beyond.  I still think that the fight between Cap, Bucky, and Tony in the missile silo is one of the most intense and personal moments in the whole MCU.  Tom Holland is still an excellent Peter Parker and an excellent Spider-Man (though the not-“great power” speech did feel a little forced—but not nearly as bad as it was in The Amazing Spider-Man!).  Chadwick Boseman gives T’Challa a very regal and powerful demeanor and steals just about every scene he’s in.

There are a few places where the dialogue seems forced—the one that comes to mind is Steve in Wanda’s room when he says he was again “a 16-year-old kid in Brooklyn.”  I also noticed flaws in the CGI in a few places, particularly with Iron Man and War Machine.  However, these issues are all relatively minor compared to everything that the movie does right.

Watching it again—and actually looking for it—I was struck by just how well they handle Vision and Scarlet Witch.  If you know the comics then you know that those two were married for a long time in the comics.  I really appreciate how well they hint at that, particularly from Vision’s side, as he repeatedly tries to make her feel better, wants people to see her better, and gets distracted when she is in distress.  There are a couple places where Paul Bettany’s acting leaves something to be desired, but that might just be the fact that his face is maroonish-red!  I’m not a huge fan of relationship-driven storytelling, but I do hope that they will explore these two characters together further.

I was also struck again by the similarities between this movie and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.  It’s not that Civil War copied BvS or anything like that; the two movies took a similar premise (heroes fighting) and ran with it.  But Marvel really did a better job with the premise.  In both cases the villain’s plan is super-elaborate and complicated, but Zemo’s plan actually has less moving parts—and much less suspension of disbelief (I mean seriously, you expect me to believe that Lex could figure out both Bats’ and Supes’ identities without Bats finding out Supes’ identity?).  Captain America and Iron Man also have a much better reason to fight than at least Superman does.

But mostly, this kind of thing works a whole lot better when you’re 13 movies into your shared universe, rather than just 2!  After all, we wouldn't understand Tony's point of view—and the radical shift it represents—without Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.  And we wouldn't understand Steve's point of view—which is also a radical shift for him—without Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The deleted scenes really don't change much about the movie itself.  The extended funeral scene is really nice and touching, but the theatrical cut was just fine (and left more time for the fights).  Black Widow talking to Black Panther at the J-SOC office was a bit of a funny moment, particularly when she said he was naive in terms of diplomacy right before Ross walked in to say that Barnes was getting extradited (I'm guessing some vibranium may have changed hands).  The slight extension to the fight sequence would have been a cool Easter egg for the fans, with the shield getting passed around between Cap and his two most famous replacements.  However, none of these really change anything about the movie itself.

Home viewing does give you a chance to see some more of these flaws, but they are really minor at most.  The movie is still in the top 3 installments of the MCU—and you can make a case for it being ranked commensurately among all comic book movies.  Ultimately, Civil War holds up extremely well and the odds are pretty good that I will watch this one a ton moving forward!

Have you bought (and watched) Civil War yet?  How do you think the experience compares to the theater?  Let me know in the comments!

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