TotL – 5 Best Things from Captain America Civil War
When I was a kid in Junior High School, way back when they still called it Junior High School, I was a geek. I still hadn’t grown out of playing with action figures, watching cartoons, and reading comic books, and I still haven’t. But it wasn’t always easy being a geek. I vividly recall an upperclassman ripping a comic book in half right in my face because I had the audacity to be reading such a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I never felt like I was in the mainstream, so I just never really took it as anything more than misunderstanding. If only that bully had read the stories I’d read, gone along on the adventures I had gone along on, and known the characters I had known, he would change his mind. I was never looking for vindication, but comic book superheroes have taken over the world, and Marvel’s latest production Captain America Civil War makes it official. As I watched this film unravel before me, I found myself caught up in emotion. No, I was never looking for vindication, but now I have it. What made Cap 3 such a vindicating film for this fan is the way it fully integrates what has become known as “the shared universe”, when comic fans have been living it in all along. So, without further ado, it’s all about the characters, it’s all about the moments, and, now, it’s all about us, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot – 5 Best Things from Captain America Civil War.
SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR…DUH
Honorable Mention: We Knew the Truth
In Captain America Winter Soldier Zola alludes to the fact that Bucky killed Stark’s parents. We, as the audience, knew this, but I’m not sure it ever occurred to the audience (it never occurred to THIS audience member, anyways) that Tony didn’t know this fact. The engaging endgame of the main villain (see below) centered on this fact, implying that the entire crux of the whole damned story hinged on this tiny little bit of information that,at the time, was seemingly throwaway information meant to drive home the point that Hydra was extra sinister. Marvel has done this in comics for decades. A writer takes a tiny tidbit that catches his attention from another writer’s story, and just runs with it. Now, this little bit of plot was certainly a very purposeful move by the Russo’s, but it nevertheless deserves a mention in this Lot, even if it’s just an Honorable one.
5. Black Widow Chooses Friendship
There’s a pivotal moment at the end of the airport fight where Natasha stops T’Challa from chasing down Cap and Bucky, and it’s a really great moment. No one really knows ALL of the truth at this point, and while Cap and Bucky know the most, Natasha knows nothing about the true conspiracy underway. Still, she chooses trust over fear when it counted. She was obviously torn on the film’s Registration Act, saw the measure of both choices, and made the safest choice she could. She’s been a villain, and getting on that side of the law again is in no way appealing to her. But in the end she makes the choice to trust her friend. Marvel Comics have also thrown this aspect of friendship into their stories forever, and real heroes are loyal to a fault.
4. Black Panther Is Immediately Amazing
Introducing characters in comic books is nothing new. Marvel has been creating new characters since the publisher’s inception, and the comic book medium is not one that grants the benefit of time. If you can’t make a character immediately relatable, compelling, and cool, the comic will simply not sell and go away after 6 or so issues. T’Challa’s entire story arc in Cap 3 is easily the most direct example of this effect adapted to the big screen. A man living in the shadow of his father, a new king bringing his nation out of the shadows of isolation, and just a really cool hero, the handling of Black Panther’s character as a whole not only made him immediately sympathetic with an identity all his own, but it made me want the Black Panther movie NOW! Buy one comic, see a character you like, buy that comic; wash, rinse, repeat. They nailed it, and there isn’t a movie-goer who watched Civil War who isn’t salivating over the upcoming Black Panther movie.
3. Giant Man Requires No Explanation
I think there are a lot of superhero movie companies that miss this aspect of comic books. The audience is not a mindless meatbag drooling in cushy movie theater seats, but they also aren’t physics majors. You have to find a happy medium in the learning curve. The Antman film already set up the idea (just the idea) of that hero being able to use little ninja throwing stars to make things big, not just small like the Antman himself, like a toy train in a little girl’s bedroom. Make things small, make things big; it’s not a huge leap to the Giant Man, and that’s exactly where Marvel took the big airport fight. No extra scenes explaining what’s going to happen. Just a line of dialogue and the logical application of easy to understand atomic scientific theory. But it’s more than that. It isn’t just that this aspect of the character wasn’t fully explained prior to it happening, but it was not explained so it could be a huge surprise to that audience. The audience’s understanding of this rather complex piece of science (even in the most basic of ways) is in and of itself a treat for the audience. A lot of times Marvel Comics is accused of not explaining things as ways to avoid plot holes, but I don’t think that is at all the case in most of those instances, and it was adapted to the screen perfectly in this example.
And it’s not even anything specific he did as a character on screen. It was actually seeing a character that honestly felt like Spider-Man on the screen. The awkwardness, the nervousness, the intelligence, the resourcefulness, the wit, the demeanor, the…I could go on. The kid nailed it! There were so many amazing moments that reminded me of the character that I grew up with, but the one that struck me the hardest – that felt the most “comic book” – was the moment he finally gets out of the fight at the airport. Tony tells him that he’s done, the fight’s over, and Spidey should sit the rest of it out. But Peter wants to keep going, tries to get up, mask half off, but falls back down, conceding to his bruised and battered body, but also, and more importantly, his newfound ally. This is the core of this character in a single scene. He doesn’t give up, because he knows he can make a difference. I may be looking a bit too much into the fact that his mask is half off in this scene and compare that to the way Peter becomes a different person when he’s Spider-Man (almost as though they are two different people with opposing life goals…) but I don’t think I am. Spider-Man has had a long and storied history. He’s arguable one of the top 3 most popular characters in all of comics. He deserves a true and honest adaptation to the big screen, and we’ve, finally, gotten it.
1. Zemo Wins
If there’s been one damning critique repeated again and again about Marvel’s Cinematic Universe it’s been a lack of a solid villain. Red Skull had his moments, and I don’t like to even count Loki as a “villain” in the truest sense of the word, but there’s been a lack of real depth to Marvel’s movie villains. Diverse? Sure. Creative? Of course. Adapted well from the source material? In almost every way. But the one thing they’ve really lacked is heart. Sometimes people do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, but those actions stem from a sense of righteousness. Now, it can argued all day that some villains were doing the righteous thing from their own perspective, and argued that Zemo was simply doing the same, but there were others who firmly agreed with him. Many people around the world wanted superheroes stopped. It was the crux of the entire film. Zemo wanted to see an end to non-sanctioned super heroics, but knew that it would take more than some empty law to assure that goal is achieved and the Avengers are no more. He knew that to stop anything like what happened to him in Sokvia from happening again he’d have to destroy the heart and the soul of the team, and he orchestrated his plan to perfection. He won! By the end of the film he may be in a prison cell, but he clearly states his feelings on this matter, which agree with mine, and his character represents the first MCU villain that I felt bad for. I understood why he did what he did, but, more importantly, I could see myself wanting to do exactly what he did, and I marveled at how well he did it.
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