Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. I wrote this as a review, but I adjusted it for the new site.
Title: Captain America: Civil War
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely,
Characters created by: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Don Heck
US Release Date: May 6, 2016
Worldwide Box office: $1,053,000,000
Returning characters: Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Sharon Carter, Ant-Man, Crossbones, Thunderbolt Ross, Howard Stark
Summary: In 1991 the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum.
In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up to avoid capture, and when Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
At the team’s headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs them that the United Nations is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the Avengers. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because he feels responsible for Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s destruction, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government.
At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers goes to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the authorities, but all three and T’Challa are arrested.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away.
When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed super-soldiers are kept in cryogenic stasis.
Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’s permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape.
The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff exiles herself to parts unknown. Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and shows this evidence to Wilson, who gives him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware he was secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991.
Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, blasting off Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities. In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft.
MCU Continuity Nods: Ross refers to the climaxes of The Avengers, Winter Soldier, and Age of Ultron when discussing the collateral damage caused by superpowered individuals. When Steve and Bucky remember going on a double date in Brooklyn when they were younger, the Captain mentions Bucky’s date was a redhead named Dolores, with the nickname Dot. That description fits with one of Peggy Carter’s nemeses from Agent Carter, Dottie Underwood, also exploited as a weapon by the Soviets. While fighting the Winter Soldier, Black Widow asks him, “You could at least recognize me.” This is a reference to the Soviet Scientist she was guarding when she was shot by the Winter Soldier.
Easter Eggs: In the film, the Falcon utilizes a falcon drone called Redwing. In the mainstream Marvel comics, Redwing was an actual falcon, which was Sam Wilson’s sidekick. One scene shows Ant-Man being boosted by an arrow from Hawkeye. This is taken directly from the comics, specifically The Avengers #223. The film shows a bond beginning to form between Scarlet Witch and Vision, who were actually married for a time in the comics. During the airport fight scene a truck has the Bluth family logo.
Stan Lee Cameo: A Fed Ex delivery man
Infinity Stone: Vision still possesses the Mind Stone
Post/mid Credits Scene: In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa grants asylum to Barnes, who chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget that he received from Stark.
My Take: One of the things I like about the film is that each Avenger has a specific reason to be on one side or another, even if is just as simple as being asked or a sense of loyalty.
I also feel that the story is the result of everything that had come before. The Avengers have to face the consequences of their battles, and even when they tried to save the people of Sokovia, people still died. The main characters continue their arcs. Tony still feels guilt from Ultron, and admits that even after destroying his armors in Iron Man 3, he couldn’t stay away. Cap us determined to save Bucky from himself. I like the idea that Howard Stark worked his whole life to recreate the Super Soldier Serum.
I like Zemo’s plan. Destroy them from within, he essentially pulls a Batman gambit: trusting people to behave as you expect them to. He knows that if he frames Bucky, that Cap would go after him, and if he reveals to Tony that Bucky killed his parents (which was set up in Winter Soldier) then that would drive a wedge between Tony and Steve. T’Challa sees what revenge can do a man, and finds a little peace.
Black Panther was great. Boseman plays him with a balance of elitism and humility, angry young man and elegant statesman. Spider-man is finally played by a teenager and it works. I actually applauded when Giant-Man appeared.
To put this in perspective, I spoke with my nine-year-old nephew after seeing it and we talked about the movie. He loved it. He gushed about Black Panther, and Giant-man, but he was most excited about Spider-man. “Did you see the ending? Spider-man WILL return!” As much as we talk about what we like here. We also have to remember that these kind of films need to appeal to the kid in us, but also actual kids.
Next: Doctor Strange