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Captain America: Civil War

The buzz I'd heard in the days leading up to this movie's release was that Captain America: Civil War is the best film in the Marvel Comics Universe and that it gets everything right that Superman V Batman got wrong. To which I reply possibly, and emphatically hell yes!

Since this was the only film to see this weekend, I couldn't really justify a Thur night screening that would leave me with a completely open Saturday. Instead, I decided to make a day of it. I opted for the smaller independent theater that I love to support when I can, and called up a friend to join. I even got an ice cream and a cider there (calories don't count when you're supporting local business!) and we went for balcony seats, which I always kept forgetting about (totally baller seating BTW). Turned out to be a very wonderful way to spice up my Saturday movie plan, and the film even met expectations (bar was very high, so I don't know if I'd go so far as to say exceeded).

Before seeing it, I kinda dreaded this write up because it's been trickier and trickier to find a worthwhile angle for the MCU films. They're good, but a bit formulaic, so there's not much new to write about each time. As it happens, I needn't have worried. There was def enough new going on that warrants discussion.

I'm trying to resist doing this as a straight up comparison to BvS, but the fact is so much of what went right here is doubly right when viewed side by side. Three big things I want to call out: the humor, the battle sequences, and the character balance. Zack Snyder, take notes.

Let's start quickly with the sense of humor. I was laughing throughout. Not the riotous laughter of a smart but naughty comedy, but the appreciative chuckles of a clever line of a dialog or unexpected situation. So many one liners tossed out, during conversations, during fights, breaking up tension and giving the audience a good time. DC is rumored to have mandated a "no joke" policy, in a misguided attempt to recapture The Dark Knight's "darkness", which only resulted in eliminating a sense of fun. Zack Snyder, takes notes.

Now let's talk about the battles and action sequences. I often consider myself an action junkie, having been raised by my Daddy to love the genre. But the thing is, outside of a straight up action movie, I'm usually bored by the action sequences in a big tentpole film. I think the difference is just in the creativity and mentality behind it all. Superhero movies especially tend to be a big yawn in that area. However with Cap here, these were some of the best battles I've ever seen. Yes, the aforementioned humor had something to do with it, but that wasn't it. There were actually interesting things happening. It wasn't just people destroying things mindlessly, or proving how strong they were (though there was one example of that which I would have been happy to have continue for the duration of the film *swoon*). No, these were smart characters who were in control of their powers, and they had interesting ways of fighting. Add in the teamwork element playing off each other's strengths to do something unexpected, or conversely having to counter abilities when fighting Avenger vs Avenger, we had things that were different, were thoughtful, and looked pretty damn cool. Zack Snyder, takes notes.

Okay so what did I mean by character balance? How often has one of the pitfalls of a superhero flick been "too many characters"? You've always got the one dude shoveled in that didn't need to be there, that just adds an extra half hour to the movie (Venom in Spiderman 3, Doomsday in BvS, half of the undeveloped Xmen in The Last Sand.) There's a lot of major characters in this movie, some of whom are being introduced into the world for the first time. That should have spelled disaster, but somehow it all worked. I'm still trying to figure out what the winning formula was, but I think it comes down to a few things. First and foremost, the bulk of the story was channeled thru one guy, Cap. Sure, filtering the story through him meant that we had a clearer intended "right side" than the publicity would have hoped for, but it kept things focused. Next, everyone tied back in to the same story. Even if you did have side motivations (Black Panther wanting to avenge his father, Scarlet Witch's guilt over collateral damage), it all came full circle to where they all stood on the primary issue of UN oversight for the team. Lastly, no one was used more than they needed to be. The urge to stuff each sequence with every character was staved off. Not everyone was in every battle. Different people were brought in at different times. No one outstayed their welcome or usefulness. Zack Snyder, takes notes.

A point of discussion that came up with my buddy afterwards was about the role of the gals in the movie. On the one hand, we couldn't definitively identify a scene where it passed the Bechdel test, especially since there were only 3 major females in the film. However, all three were fully developed characters, who were tough as nails and not damsels in distress (Bucky Barnes was as close to a damsel as we got, and he ain't no dame), and at no point did they ever wear objectifying outfits. Given those points, we ended up agreeing that yes this movie did count as a step in the right direction, so we can add another point to the win column for Cap. Zack Snyder, take notes.

And smartly, Marvel has decided to let their guys lay low for a bit and make way for other characters for the next couple years. Personally, I'm now really excited for Black Panther after he got a stellar introduction here. Oh and speaking of stellar introductions, Spider-man! Young'un Tom Holland injected such a new energy, played great off RDJr's Iron Man, and even managed to steal much of one of the biggest and best scenes in the whole thing. Thank you, Sony, for realizing that you weren't doing the webbed one any favors by keeping him, and wisely relinquishing him to those who could do him justice. You may be the unexpected true heroes here.

There you have it. Marvel knocks it out of the park yet again, and brings back my excitement for the genre that seemed to have been gasping for breath. Well done, Team Cap. Well \m/ done.

Captain America: Civil War - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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