Me thinks this is the Avengers 2 Marvel and the Masses initially wanted…
Let me start by saying, I am a big fan of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. I think the public is a wee bit spoiled when it comes to the fact that a well done and entertaining film with all their favorite superheroes can be considered a bad film, just because it has some pacing and writings problems. That being said though, this film, Captain America: Civil War is exactly what the doctor ordered. Before I start singing its praise, let’s talk about it briefly.
You know the complaint with Superhero flicks that they don’t receive consequences for the destruction that occurs? Yeah, well that isn’t relevant anymore. That’s exactly the premise to Civil War (and to be fair, Batman V Superman last month as well). The answer to this dilemma is a controversial ruling that would put all The Avengers under jurisdiction to a worldwide counsel (if you will). With this difficult ruling, different politics on both sides, as well as certain friendships that are far from acceptable (*cough* Bucky *cough*) which will ultimately pit Captain America and Iron Man against one another. Yep, that’s about as much narrative I’m getting into, folks. Because either one; you know it already, or two; you need to discover it for yourself.
Let’s talk about the main tension. What makes this film far superior to the previous Hero Flick of 2016 is that the film takes time and gives a lot of effort to let you feel the dreaded tension. You know, the stuff you can feel in the pit of your gut that makes you cringe to think of how it all could end with your beloved characters? Yeah, that’s the stuff. What is so marvelous in all of this is that it gives you a heavy dose of each side and moral conflict that is going in their minds. You understand why someone is acting the way they are, and doing the things they are doing (whether you agree or not); there is almost no #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan displayed. Even the villain, in a depraved sort of way, is slightly sympathetic. They didn’t take any cheap shots here with introducing or ending the conflict, you must endure to see it play out for yourself.
Next, the characters. If I were to sit here and write out each character I was impressed with, it could take me eons. The main 2, Cap and Ironman, were dealt with in the best way possible. The film gives you sober moments to observe just where their friendship truly lies. You see how different they are, you see there are storms a’brewing, but you also see the years of working with one another as well as depending on each other that has bound them in a truly remarkable relationship. It makes the differences that much more heart wrenching. But if I were to also give a shout out, it would be to the newbies; Black Panther (a promising start) and Spiderman (he beyond impresses in the first 5 minutes alone…which sure shows how clumsy Garfield’s rendition was). Lastly, I want to mention Black Widow and Cap’s relationship briefly (one of my favorite team duo’s in Marvel). Without giving anything away, though they do end up on different sides of the fight, the writing does it in a way that doesn’t cast aside their relationship (as I had feared), but rather uses it to make it even more significant.
What else is there to talk about? The action was a blend of intense stunt work and jaw dropping CGI imagery mixed to perfection. The film’s big moments and revelations totally caught me (personally) off guard, and kept me engaged to the very last minute. But with greatness, there must also be a few negatives. This go around, while the sensuality and Stark’s crass behavior is largely absent, the language is a lot more apparent than previous entries. While it had maybe a few more words than normal, the S word and the pairing of G and D together were used in more intense moments, making them far more present. Along with the negative, it should also be brought up that this film, while brilliantly crafted, only barely feels like a Captain America entry. Rather, it feels like Cap’s version of the Avengers. This may not necessarily be a problem (it was a bit for me, since Captain America: Winter Soldier is my favorite Marvel film), but it is apparent. I am also going to take a gander in saying that if it is to be taken as an Avengers Film…I would put it at the top of them (though I admit this could be my initial emotions talking).
Finally, the fight. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what makes this film stand apart from BvS. While there is a villain of sorts, and while there are other conflicts in the way. This film is ultimately the conflict between a group of friends, as it should be. The core is friendship, and it personifies a frustratingly true image of what may and what has been the case for many friendships, differences. This can be seen in the vast political problems of our generation, this can be seen in personal relationships that have reached a point of no return. And what makes it so, so agonizing is that there were many opportunities that make you feel like it could have been avoided, but still it brews. Ultimately, I find it as an interesting example of our personal privilege. What do you do exactly, when both sides are right (either in their minds, or in mere opinions)? Can two people who care and respect each other deeply put aside pride and privilege, and give in for the sake of the relationship? It is a tough question, depending on the circumstance, and the Marvel example is meant to be unanswerable to some degree. But what about the real world? When it comes to standing up for the difficult and controversial “right”, as Cap feels he must, are there times we (as individuals and the church) must take a step away from those we love? I believe we must. There are examples of leaving those who are in the un-repented wrong, there is the example of Paul and John Mark (Acts 15:39) who needed a separation for the good of God’s work because of differences, but ultimately what about areas of opinion? We are not necessarily given that view in Civil War, but we need to understand that unity is a biggy to God and His church (Romans 15). Are we willing to tear apart a true team because we think we have the right, the opinion, or the privilege to have our way? That sort of thought gets messy, doesn’t it?
In the end, we are given this mindset with some difficult questions about friendship. All the while showing that these conflicts are almost worse than having to fight a world of evil aliens, because this is far more personal. The Russo brothers showed this in the most fascinating, the most awesome action filled, and the most emotional way possible. While others out there might have a few problems with it personally, and I definitely need to see it again to give it more fair, I have still decided to give it something I try my best to withhold if at all possible…