I saw Captain America: Civil War

There were some interesting glimmerings lurking in it — some ideas about how we ought to question what authorities want to say about our lives, and about loyalty, and about responsibility, and about how a world of inequities ought to be managed fairly. Maybe 10 minutes of the movie talked about these kinds of issues.

But ultimately, it’s a superhero movie, and the way everything gets resolved is…




Sorry, everyone. That picture? It’s the whole movie. Well, almost: there’s another close, intimate fight scene between just Captain America and Iron Man where they beat each other bloody. I won’t tell you who wins, except to say…it really doesn’t matter. The lesson delivered is that you can mouth a few words about the complexity of human society and interactions, and then ignore them until you have an opportunity to colorfully shred the landscape with flying whirling superhumans.

Also, I heard the promises ahead of time that Spider-Man was going to be spectacular and important. He wasn’t. He was another hyper-kinetic rag doll getting flung about, only to bounce back up and fling someone else around. In a movie already stuffed to the gills with invincible unbreakable physics-defying weirdos, he’s just one more.

But hey, maybe that’s exactly what you want, big set-piece battles with a mob of people in costumes whomping the poop out of each other. If so, Captain America: Civil War delivers! Yay! Two multi-colored armored exaggeratedly huge thumbs up!

<giant thumbs tentatively tap at each other, then start pounding on each other, then leap off my hands, smash through my living room window, rip trees out of the ground, and start battering each other, destroying College Avenue and the line of student cars parked there>


  1. says

    It does teach us useful real world problem-solving skills. If a Good Guy pounds a Bad Guy hard enough the Bad Guy will stop being bad but the Good Guy will remain good. Magic!

  2. Kreator says

    Also, I heard the promises ahead of time that Spider-Man was going to be spectacular and important. He was.

    Ah, much better! Young Spidey was adorable and his scenes made all the theatre burst in laughter.

    Seriously though, what’s wrong with mindless escapism? As far as I’m concerned that’s the only good reason to watch a movie in a big screen.

  3. says

    There’s nothing wrong with mindless escapism. I’m just not particularly entertained by seeing people get punched in the face.

    Imagine this: substitute every superhero fight scene in the movie with a superhero sex scene. The airport battle becomes a wild orgy. The final fight becomes a more intimate, but still pretty rough, gay sex scene. The true nature of the movie becomes apparent: it’s got all the depth of your standard porn video.

    I think I’d find my Sex Avengers movie a little more interesting than the actual thing, but not by much, and only because I don’t find people punching each other at all interesting, while people fucking each other is very slightly more interesting.

  4. wzrd1 says


    That’d make more sense than the superzero fights and the contrived fight between Captain America and Iron Dud.
    I saw the film last night, was utterly underwhelmed. The entire up scene was spidy getting excited on meeting all of the super zeroes.

  5. Matrim says

    I enjoyed it, of course I wasn’t going in expecting anything other than a massive slugfest punctuated by a few dramatic and funny moments. Their Spider-Man was easily my favorite film version of that character, I’d been chomping at the bit to see T’Challa basically since Phase 1 (and am still irritated that he won’t have his own movie until 2018), and I really liked the little bits between Bucky and Wilson. The plot was fairly contrived, but I knew that it pretty much had to be since they were dead set and determined on having their version of Civil War, and they weren’t going to invest the time necessary to build it up like they did in the comics (that was their biggest misstep in my opinion, if they really wanted to do Civil War they needed to have a LOT of lead up with some serious character evolution to get them to that point). It’s not as good as Winter Soldier, but I thought it was pretty solid, all things considered.

  6. marcoli says

    I will watch it, and probably enjoy it and not be proud of that.
    I just saw the first Barbershop movie last nite on cable, and was delighted at this small, warm, and heartfelt movie about the goings on in an inner city barbershop. I really enjoyed it. So now I notice that another one is out (must all successful movies have a sequel?), and would like to see that too. So there are still good, small movies out there, of course.

  7. Scott Simmons says

    Um … Would Black Widow and Scarlet Witch still be in it? Because I’ve never pre-purchased opening night tickets for any movie ever, but I probably would for that one.

    Excuse me, I’ll be in my bunk.

  8. wzrd1 says

    Scott, they’re both in it, on opposite sides.
    Going beyond that mention would be a spoiler.

  9. Ruby says

    Meh. I don’t give a shit about the geopolitical crap. I was just there to see the romance between Steve and Bucky and I was not disappointing.

  10. says

    I enjoyed all movies in Marvel Cinematic Universe so far and I expect to enjoy this one as well. However nothing beats the first Iron man, because that one was pure hard sci-fi, whereas the subsequent movies get more and more supernatural elements.
    I do not like much deep-thinky movies. I watch movies to laugh, to be entertained, to escape my shitty life for a few hours.

  11. Gregory Greenwood says

    I thought Civil War was rather fun, though admittedly not as good (or as political) as Winter Soldier. Outside the interesting issues of the balance between personal freedom and collective security and the morality of viewing people as a threat because of what they are capable of rather than what they have actually done, the movie revolved around characters who were friends – and indeed together formed a sort of surrogate family structure for one another; a haven for people too unusual and/or damaged to readily find fellowship anywhere else – finding themselves divided by circumstance, conflicting personal loyalties and principle. Several earlier movies went into establishing their relationships and the bonds between them, and the conceit here was how events can come between people, and how costly to personal relationships one’s principles can be.

    There was also a subplot involving several characters about how corrosive the desire for personal revenge can be. A well worn trope to be sure, but reasonably effectively deployed in this instance.

    This type of movie is never going to be exactly cerebral cinema, but I think it does a good job of providing a couple of hours of diverting entertainment with a sprinkling of actual social relevancy, which is more than a lot of movies manage.

    Also, Black Panther was awesome, and I rather enjoyed Spider Man’s brief stint of screen time. The slightly obnoxious sense of humour was a good match for his depiction in the source material.

    I won’t say any more for fear of straying into spoiler territory, but I would advise not allowing the poopey-head to put you off going along to see for yourself if you like this type of movie. Don’t mind him, he is still grumpy about the whole card board penis incident…

  12. laurentweppe says

    I won’t tell you who wins, except to say…it really doesn’t matter.

    Of course the result of the big battle royale doesn’t matter: the whole point of the movie is gung gur niratref ybfg nf fbba nf gurl ghearq ba rnpu bgure vafgrnq bs gelvat gb jbex gurve qvfnterrzrag va n pvivyrmrq jnl. Ol rkcybvgvat gur urebrf’ uhzna sbvoyrf vafgrnq bs gelvat gb bhgtha gurz yvxr gur cerivbhf ivyynvaf qvq, guvf zbivr’f nagntbavfgf rffragvnyyl jva: gur Niratref grnz vf oebxra, unys vgf zrzoref, vapyhqvat vgf qr snpgb yrnqref, unir tbar ebthr, naq gur “tbbq thlf” unir orra znqr gb ybbx yvxr rzbgvbanyyl hafgnoyr ohyyvrf jvgu jnl gb zhpu svercbjre ng gurve svatregvc (which, to be fair, is 2/3 correct).


    (that was their biggest misstep in my opinion, if they really wanted to do Civil War they needed to have a LOT of lead up with some serious character evolution to get them to that point)

    That… has nothing to do with it. The comic book version of Civil War worked as a deep ideological conflict because the Superhuman Registration Act forced hundreds of characters with secret identities to come out in the open, often putting their friends and loved ones at risk (the whole point of the secret identity: can’t kill Spidey or Daredevil? Well, Aunt May and Foggy Nelson will probably prove a lot more squishy and make perfect targets for retaliation).
    But in the MCU, most superheroes don’t have secret identities: I mean: you have, what? Matt Murdoch hiding the fact that he’s the SpanishIrish-Working-Class Inquisition and Peter Parker and… I don’t think Jessica Jones ever bothered to hide the fact that she got super strength, and you could count the growing population of Inhumans except internal politics and petty feuds within Marvel have kept Agents segregated from the rest of the MCU.

    Long story short, the original cause of Comics’ Civil War doesn’t work in the MCU, but Marvel still wanted to have its big team of superheroes breaking up on the silver screen, so they had to craft a new justification for Stark and Rogers to punch one another, and I daresay they did a more that a decent job.


    whereas the subsequent movies get more and more supernatural elements.

    Well, so far the MCU has mostly run on Clark’s third law… That’s one reason I like Agents of Shield despite its numerous flaws, by the way: thanks to that series, we know that there are blue collared Asgardians bored to death with their dead end jobs: takes a lot of the mystique away from Odin’s shiny quasi-Trumpian palaces.


    Anyway, back to the movies themselves, Am I the only one to notice that after thousands of Sokovians got trapped in the crossfire between Ultron’s daddy issues and Tony Stark’s ego, the Avengers remained free to operate like a not-so-bizarre crossover between Blackwater and Doctors Without Borders, but
    bapr Jnaqn nppvqragnyyl oyrj hc n ohvyqvat (nsgre guebjvat n rkcybfvir-oryg-jrnevat arb-anmv nf sne njnl sebz n znexrgcynpr nf fur pbhyq) naq n qbmra be fb qvcybzngf sebz Jnxnaqn, gur Cbjref gung Or qrpvqr gung rabhtu vf rabhtu vf gung vg’f gvzr gb chg gur Niratref bs n gvtug yrnfu.

    Gubhfnaqf bs cebyrf sebz n snvyrq rnfgrea-rhebcrna fgngr trg xvyyrq nf gur erfhyg bs n ovyyvbanver urve’f uhoevf… Anu, gur Niratref ner tbbq yrg’f yrg gurz qb gurve guvat. Uvture hcf sebz n frpyhqrq ohg dhvgr boivbhf irel evpu pbhagel trg xvyyrq nsgre na Niratre gevrq gb zvavzvmr nf zhpu n fur pbhyq gur ahzore bs olfgnaqref zheqrerq ol n anmv/Krah Jneq ncbfgyr: Abj lbh’ir qbar vg zvff Znkvzbss! Lbhe oyngnag nohfr bs fhcrecbjref jba’g tb hapurpxrq nalzber!

  13. waydude says

    Well it was called Civil War and not Civil Conversation. I had fun, but I would really have appreciated a deeper examination of the role of oversight and governmental cooperation but we got what we got. An in depth look at the usefulness of the UN as a peacekeeping force would have been interesting. And then they could beat the shit out of each other. Really we could have had one scene at the actual UN where arguments and counter arguments are made and that wouldn’t have detracted from the action.
    Screw it, I’m going to work on my Winter Soldier arm.

  14. says

    I just got one question;

    Is the cause of the Civil War at least about trying to temper uncontrolled metahumans? I think it is, ’cause the MCU has slowly been gearing up that kind of subtext throughout all of the movies. More and more supers, causing more and more mayhem, often *because* of their powers/abilities and not to combat an external threat (Pretty much every single iron man is about iron man stuff falling into not iron man hands and then exploding a lot of property while iron man tries to iron man)

    So if they at least try to stick to that as the root cause, should be neat. Though it does make Stark into a sorta hypocrite because he’s the reason the last avenger movie happened at all. It was entirely his fault. the entire movie could have been solved by someone slapping Tony and going “NO MEGA AI CONTROLLED ROBOT ARMY YOU ASSHOLE” and roll credits.

  15. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    I saw Super/Bat Fight. Civil War was gold by comparison. That’s kind of damning with faint praise, though. I did like Civil War. Obviously it’s a “I punch you in the face, and you punch me in the face, and then I see a thing and do a thing, and then I win” film, and there’s only so much you can do with that, but I do like a lot of things about it. From the comics, one thing I liked was that the floating prison wasn’t a inter-dimensional concentration camp built by Iron Man & Mr Fantastic who somehow both still think of themselves as the good guy. I liked that Zemo wasn’t a bad guy. Ok, sure, he was The Bad Guy, and he definitely Did Bad Things, and I do not approve of what he did, but he wasn’t some cackling monster. He had reasons for what he did, and I can totally see where he was coming from. I hope we see more of him (and not just because I have a major crush on Daniel Brühl). It kind of annoyed me that Stark didn’t seem able to understand that Barnes was mind controlled when he killed his parents… obviously I can understand being angry about that, but in a world where mind control is a thing, where you know that mind control is a thing, and you have personally experienced it, it really doesn’t make sense to want to punch someone to death for something they did while under the influence of mind control that you know they were under. Spidey was much too cute :3 (although the only reason he needed to be there was for the unmasking thing, which appears not to have been a thing in this thing), and I was seriously pissed at Stark for dragging Spidey into a political conflict that he wasn’t already embroiled in. I liked that the whole path to the legislation thing made sense, and I could totally understand why they ended up fighting at all, and why they all ended up on the sides that they did. I liked Vision. “I’m sorry, the door was open….” (I’m easily amused, ok?) I’m annoyed Captain Marvel made no appearance, though, and that we’re still going to have to wait another 34 months to see her, at least in her own film (fingers crossed for an appearance in Infinity War)… but, much as it pisses me off, that’s probably only tangentially related. Bloody Ant-Man & The Wasp pushing the release date back. *mutter mutter mutter*

  16. microraptor says

    Shriked @16:

    So if they at least try to stick to that as the root cause, should be neat. Though it does make Stark into a sorta hypocrite because he’s the reason the last avenger movie happened at all. It was entirely his fault. the entire movie could have been solved by someone slapping Tony and going “NO MEGA AI CONTROLLED ROBOT ARMY YOU ASSHOLE” and roll credits.

    That’s basically Tony’s motivation this time around. He feels massively responsible for the clusterfuck in Avengers 2, but unfortunately he’s still got the same mentality of “I have to fix this problem personally and do things to my friends without their consent for their own good.”

    The one thing I wish had been in the movie that wasn’t was someone pointing out that SHIELD and the World Council had been corrupted by Hydra from day one, so how could a group like the Avengers really trust any sort of political oversight? But that wasn’t addressed.

  17. microraptor says

    Also, I thought that the movie handled the whole thing a lot better than the comic books did: it’s kind of hard for a case to be made for why a superhero registration is a good thing after you’ve had 40 years of X-Men comics using registration acts as thinly veiled allegories to the Holocaust in the same universe.

  18. Matrim says

    @laurentweppe, 14

    Long story short, the original cause of Comics’ Civil War doesn’t work in the MCU

    Which is why they needed more lead up, which was my point.

    I daresay they did a more that a decent job.

    Which you’re entitled to think. I, however, feel that the handling of the actual “Civil War” stuff was one of the weakest parts of the film.

  19. ChasCPeterson says

    I would read all this perceptive analysis and informed critique of the latest BlockBuster, but you know, I don’t like “thinky” blogs.
    *off to find some kute kat vids or Ultimate Fighting highlights*

  20. kaleberg says

    There are movies that are just like plays. The actors enter and exit and the story is told through dialog. There are other ways of telling a story though. Sometimes it is by singing, as in an opera, or by dancing, as in a ballet. Sometimes there is a mix of both. They stop the dialog and have everyone start singing or dancing. Sometimes it is just about presenting a song or a production number. Sometimes the song or dance tells one something about the characters, advances the plot or fills in backstory. Sometimes they try to make it more naturalistic, so they stop the play and the actors playing the band or troupe perform or rehearse. Shakespeare was always shoving plays into his plays. Not everyone likes this kind of thing, so they don’t enjoy things like The Commitments. All That Jazz, Midsummer Night’s Dream or Sound of Music.

    It isn’t just song and dance. Sometimes they stop the play for a choreographed fight. Douglas Fairbanks was brilliant at this in the old silent movies. I had a fencing teacher who used to choreograph fencing scenes for Hollywood, back when fencing was the thing, not using “mutant” powers. Sometimes it is the technical details of a crime or escape in a thriller or caper movie. Sometimes it is a car or horse race. Sometimes it is surfing or mountain climbing or racing around a construction site on those little bicycles. Some of these are even good movies, though not to everyone’s taste.

    The MCU movies, like the comic books, do a fairly good job of using the fight scenes, overblown as they are, to advance the story and show things about the characters. I had a friend in the comic business, and they used to joke about how two characters couldn’t meet without fighting a bit. Even they felt it was horribly stylized, like cutting to a field of flowers during a sex scene, but the idea was to tell something about each characters’ fighting style, their feelings about the other, both personal and martial, and often to provide a framework for some exposition without the usual lame dialog between the expositor and the tell-to.

    “Tell-to” is the technical term they use for the character ostensibly having stuff explained to him or her. Comic book artists hate having to draw flat exposition. It is boring, but the readers need to be told about the upcoming coronation or invention or whatever. Shakespeare would cut to some comic gravediggers or other working men to leaven it a bit. Jack Kirby and the like would either go for fantastic backdrops or a power to power fight. Try it the next time you are reading some boring paper: “… the absence of TPA4 during the JB7c reaction drives the membrane transfer of the iLB2 …”, except now with ray guns.

  21. wzrd1 says

    @kaleberg, thanks for reminding me. I need to order a new foil and get back into fencing. It keeps one in shape. :)
    I remember some years back, our eldest came home on vacation from college, bragged about her prowess in her college fencing club, whereupon we next ended up in the driveway…
    I may have blown out a knee, but I still won on points. :)