Captain America: Civil War Review

Even though it has the title “Civil War”, it actually has very little to do with the comic storyline it takes the title from. There’s the core starting point: registration for all super-powered beings on earth. And like in the comics, Tony Stark sits on one side while Captain America sits on the other. But that’s about where the similarities start and end.

This version of Civil War deals with the search for the Winter Soldier after he supposedly blew up a political conference, killing several high profile people including the father of The Black Panther. This sets him on a quest for vengeance, Tony Stark wants to arrest the Winter Soldier, and naturally, Captain America wants to find his friend and keep him safe.

SRyYQZ.0.0You may be led to believe that the villain of this film is someone named Zemo. He has nothing to do with his comic book counterpart in this film and more or less meanders around the movie. His entire purpose exists to be a plot mechanic instead of an actual antagonist. He moves around the world, causing problems and setting up things in order for the movie to move along. But in the end he does very little, especially since his plan hinges on people being in a certain spot at a certain time, at the same time. It’s all very convenient and kind of damages the impact of certain scenes.

But the real action of the movie has to do with Cap and Stark. Their relationship has always been one of begrudged friendship and that’s been crumbling steadily since the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Things go into overdrive over the course of the film, and thanks to a third act revelation, pretty much falls apart entirely. Civil War is a movie that – like other Marvel movies – you can more or less enjoy without having seen the others, but things wouldn’t have the same impact if you’ve been following the movies since the beginning. These characters have come super far since the original Iron Man movie and this movie feels like a culmination of that.

There are a few additional standouts. Black Panther is pretty amazing in this movie. Chadwick Boseman’s fits the role so well that the movie is immediately better when he’s on screen. I’m definitely excited to see how Black Panther’s solo movie turns out.

3058531-1280_captain_america_civil_war_black_pantherThe other is of course the one and only Spider-man. Spider-man is one of the best and worst things about Civil War. Tom Holland is great in the role, and Spider-man’s action scenes are great. But you can tell that Spider-man wasn’t meant to be in this movie originally. The plot literally stops for fifteen minutes in order to introduce Peter Parker and get him up to speed with the rest of the movie. It’s unfortunate, as the movie suffers from enough pacing problem as it is.

Of course the most important aspect of a mash up movie such as this is the action. What we really want is to see our favorite heroes knock each other around and boy does this movie live up to that. There’s a really good fight between both “teams” in the middle of the movie where everyone from Spider-man to Ant-man gets to show off their skills. The fight kind of suffers from a “why didn’t you open with that” mentality a bit, but otherwise it’s really exciting.

The fight towards the third act is not only way more brutal, but more tragic. It’s here that you realize the damage that’s been done by both people can’t be repaired easily and both are looking to spill blood. This one isn’t made for cheering and popcorn fluff, it rings more sad than fun.

captain-america-civil-war-still-1The movie also attempts to deal with some heavy themes, as most comic book movies do. In this case it’s the idea of a world police and the freedom to choose. It’s here that the movie feels almost too short, as the ideas aren’t nearly as explored as they could be. The movie takes more time dealing with the comic book-y aspects of the plot and sort of passes off the debates of these themes after the first act. By the time the movie finishes, you’ll forget entirely that the movie began because of a registration act.

Overall Captain America: Civil War is a great film. It isn’t as tight as Winter Soldier, or even Guardians of the Galaxy, but it ranks up there as one of Marvel’s top films. The implications of this film on the wider MCU are large and will no doubt take their toll on films to come (in a good, dramatic way that is). It’s worth remembering that this is the last time we’ll see most of these heroes – Black Panther and Spider-man not withstanding – for several years to come. So for things to end on a tragic note is bittersweet, but one that feels earned over the course of three Iron Man movies, two Avengers movies, and three Captain America movies.

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Death In Comics and Why It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

***SPOILERS FOR COMIC BOOK READERS AHEAD***

Wolverine is going to die. Yes, you read that right. The man with the healing ability, who has been alive for over 200 years and even survived having a nuclear explosion go off in his face and having his skeleton ripped out, will be dying sometime in the near future. Does this matter? No. Why? Because Wolverine will be returning without a scratch about a year after his death. It happens every time a major character dies nowadays. They die, they’re “missed and mourned” and then the return story line starts to ramp up. It happened with Captain America at the end of Civil War and with Batman at the end of Infinite Crisis.

Some people argue that death in comics is important and the fact that it never sticks isn’t important. It’s hard for me to agree with this because I see death in storytelling totally differently. While the impact it will have on the world and its characters is extremely important, the impact it has on the reader/viewer (in the case of television and whatnot) is the most important aspect. It’s hard for me to enjoy, or even take seriously the death of a comic book character when I know that within a year they will return.

Death as a plot device when you know it will be meaningful. How does it accomplish that? By being permanent. That’s not something comic book do well. For years characters such as Barry Allen and Jean Grey were dead. For decades they’re deaths echoed through their universes. Their deaths were powerful, meaningful events that took place. Then they both came back. Eventually everyone will come back. There’s very little that remains in comic books and it’s frustrating. How can someone be affected by the death of their favorite character when they can be comforted by that they’ll eventually return, probably sooner than they think.

Death wasn’t always perceived this way in comics. When Superman was killed by Doomsday back in the 90’s, people were shocked. It was a landmark event. People couldn’t help but think “you can’t kill Superman, can you?”. It turns out you can, but not for very long. Over the course of twelve months Superman eventually returned. But that still didn’t ruin the affect it had on people. Death in comics was a strange, new land. But it could never be permanent. And as such, the more it happened, the less it meant. People in the comics business saw the numbers and sales that the death of Superman brought it. So it’s natural to assume they wanted a piece of that action.

But it’s hard to invest in something like that when you know it’s a cash grab. It’s just like those “event” stories that are set across ten different series so we have to buy them all to get the full picture. It’s something of an insult to our intelligence to act like we would care about something that will be reversed within twelve month’s time.

I would love nothing more than if both universes went on a cleaning spree, cleaning out their overstocked character list and creating space for everyone to breathe. But alas, nothing is permanent in comics, except its characters.

The Future of SHIELD

It’s assumed by now that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD will get a second season. I have to imagine that if ratings don’t pick up, this season would be its last. The ratings have been ho-hum compared to the pilot, but those ratings are inflated. Most people watched that pilot out of curiosity, realized that Iron Man and Thor weren’t in it, and took off for the hills. The rest of us stuck around to see what they would do with the show. Since then we’ve seen the dissolution of SHIELD all due to the events in Captain America 2. By now the show only has two episodes left, so we’re all left to wonder, where will we go after?

There are two major possibilities. By the time that SHIELD’s second season comes to an end it will be just before Avengers: Age of Ultron is released. It’s fair to assume that the events of the second season of SHEILD will tie into that movie. The question is what do we do with all the remaining time?

Well Nick Fury is confirmed to be in the season finale. While we can assume that he’s there primarily to give Coulson answers, he might also be there to give them their new mission. That mission? Go to Europe and help take down the remaining Hydra installations. At the end of Captain America 2, Nick Fury mentioned that he was heading to Europe in order to take down any remaining Hydra bases while they were weak. At the same time, Baron Von Strucker – revealed in the post credits scene of Captain America 2 – revealed his desire to throw the remaining Hydra bases to the wolves in order to preserve their anonymity.

The second possibility isn’t as likely. The other theory is that Coulson will reform SHIELD as an underground intelligence agency. Perhaps bankrolled by Stark Industries? Since How I Met Your Mother has ended I would love to see Cobie Smulders join the show full time. It would be a great way of keeping the presence of the movies known in the show and give us someone to replace Ward. This would also allow them to take on a “Star Trek” persona, using the plane as their “Enterprise” going around, exploring the unknown and so on.

I would prefer the first option though simply because it gives the show a serialized approach. Once Captain America 2 was released SHIELD kicked into high gear, finally able to focus on a true goal. The Centipede angle was fine for the beginning, but there were several episodes that had nothing to do with that. The show needs something to focus on and the dissolution of Hydra would be an excellent goal.

We’ll know for certain over the course of the month whether SHIELD is actually getting renewed and no doubt get details on season two at San Diego Comic-Con. What do you guys think about the future of SHIELD? Is there a storyline you would like to see them tackle?

Is SHIELD Finally Where It Should Be?

*Spoilers Ahead for SHIELD and Captain America 2*

For the longest time, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD had been struggling both creatively and ratings wise. While the latter is still an issue for the program, the former is finally finding its place. It took nearly the entire season though, and that’s something I’ve learned isn’t entirely the fault of the writers. Jeph Loeb (producer of SHIELD) told several interviewers that they were stuck in something of a holding pattern because they were waiting for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to be released. Now that the movie is out, the show can now deal with the fall out of those events.

Those events of course, are the infiltration of SHIELD by Hydra. What remains of SHIELD is at war and Coulson’s team are on the run from Colonel Talbot. At this time we also learned that one of Coulson’s own, Grant Ward, is a Hydra spy. Though how far he subscribes to their doctrine is unknown. He seems to be mostly tied to his SO: John Garrett. That’s fine, and it makes me glad that the writers decided not to go the brain-washing route. That would be such a TV trope and Whedon isn’t necessarily known for using those.

The greatest gift this show received from Captain America was a goal. The show’s plot is now focused on one thing: defeating Hydra while preserving what’s left of SHIELD. It’s something the show desperately needed. I admit that before Captain America they were focused on hunting the Clairvoyant. But that only came to a head a few episodes before Cap 2 debuted. Now the show has a larger, overarching goal to reach for. This will no doubt drive the show until its end in May. Perhaps their hunt for Hydra will continue on through season two, up until the second Avengers movie.

More importantly though, this goal has shaken up the characters. For so long everyone followed their predetermined mold. Many of the characters had the personality of paper dolls. Now everyone is a bit more varied and we’re finally getting some depth. This is SHIELD’s chance to build on this depth and deliver us characters we can engage with.

For now, I think it’s easy to look at SHIELD as a show worth watching. It’s somewhat disappointing it took this long to get there, but it wasn’t exactly the fault of the show. It’s a strange new thing when your show is directly tied to a movie franchise. This has never been done before so there will be roadblocks. As time goes on I have no doubt we’ll see smoother transitions and a better show overall. I simply hope that the ratings tick up so we’ll get to see that show.

 

TOMODACHI!!!!

Hooray for being sick… not. I’ve been saddled with a nasty virus for the past four days. In that time though I watched a ton of TV and a few movies.

I saw Ender’s Game, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you could get it for cheap. Harrison Ford is awesome but he’s about it. The ending doesn’t make a lot of sense either. I’m sure in the book it makes perfect sense, but the movie is missing a lot and even as someone who hasn’t read the book that’s pretty obvious.

I watched Castle in the Sky, an amazing Hayao Miyazaki film. I’d never seen it before and it was totally awesome. Mark Hamill as the English VA was pretty cool too. The music is phenomenal as always as well.

Lastly, I saw Captain America 2, again. I’d seen it the weekend it came out, but I also went again this weekend with my girlfriend. It’s even better the second time. The music and the action are so good together. It definitely doesn’t feel as long as it really is. It’s still very easy to get wrapped up in all the excitement.

Moving on though, are you ready for your daily dose of insanity? Check out this ten minute segment on Tomodachi Life, Nintendo’s next big game for the 3DS. It’s absolutely insane and for some reason I cannot wait to play it. I’m totally going to buy this when it comes out and I encourage you all to do the same!

Lately I’ve been thinking about buying that new Vita model with Borderlands 2. What do you guys think? Would it be worth it?

HOW ABOUT CIV: BEYOND EARTH!? Very excited for this as well as I’m a huge Civilization fan. The idea of heading into space and colonizing other worlds, new tech trees, and differing units all sound amazing. The end of the year can’t come soon enough now!

Aaaaaaaand Transistor got a release date! It’s the end of May if I’m remembering correctly (May 20?). I loved Bastion so I’m certainly looking forward to this game as well.