In Criticism of Captain America: Civil War

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There is no denying the huge feeling of awesome when you leave your first showing of Captain America: Civil War. I mean, Captain America took on Iron Man – we met the incredible Black Panther – and how cool is the new Spider-Man? But be careful not to let the awesome blur your eyes and ignore some pretty gaping holes in Marvel’s newest release.

What is the ‘Civil War’ Really About?

Bucky Barnes (Seb Stan) causes a lot of trouble [Image from Marvel]

Bucky Barnes (Seb Stan) causes a lot of trouble [Image via Marvel]

One of the things that drew me to Civil War in the first place is that it’s a complex, relatable, political debate. There are arguments for and against legislating such a powerful group of individuals, especially when they are so volatile. However, the debate over the Superhero Act barely features in why the Avengers find themselves at war – rather that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the government are unfairly targeting Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and Captain America (Chris Evans) is trying to protect him. This feels like a cheap ploy to get the audience to side with Cap and his crew, when in reality, a far more interesting film would see a split in audience opinion. In fact, I think the story would have worked far better without it being branded as a Captain America film, rather just calling it Civil War and exploring how it affected each individual character equally.

Unnecessary Characters & Important Absences

Should've stayed away Hawkeye [Image from Zap2it.com]

Should’ve stayed away Hawkeye [Image via Zap2it.com]

What does Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) add to the film? He appears, emotionally manipulates Scarlet Witch by reminding her of that time her brother died, and then ends up being just another superhero in the big fight scene. Any depth added to his character in Avengers: Age of Ultron is forgotten as he quickly abandons his family to help his friends fight his other friends. He really is only there to be another selling point to put on the posters. Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), is really there just to give Cap a good kiss. Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is nothing more than Cap’s wingman (geddit?).

And where were some of the most important MCU characters? Bruce Banner’s opinion on the Civil War would have been one of the most interesting, as he knows he is a danger that needs to be controlled, but has had very bad experiences with the government in the past. As the leader of the Avengers, Nick Fury surely should be up there, trying to control his team, but he’s not even so much as mentioned.

Two dimensional romantic subplots

A recent feature correctly surmised that romantic subplots were the true villains of Marvel films. The Vision’s (Paul Bettany) crush on Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olson) is very unconvincing and flat, even quite creepy at points. The whole Peggy Carter dying in London subplot is unnecessary to the overarching film narrative apart from to introduce Sharon as Cap’s new love interest – and, as I said earlier, she really isn’t that interesting anyway. Forget about the romance, unless it’s even mildly convincing or important to the story, and get back to the action at hand!

Captain America: Civil War is a great film, I’m not denying it. But there are so many ways it could have been done better. On a brighter note, this is surely a conflict which will ripple into future Marvel films, and there are still some very interesting debates left to be had. Iron Man: Civil War, anyone?

Captain America: Civil War (2016), directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, is distributed in the UK by Walt Disney Studios. Certificate 12A. 

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Editor of The Edge. Previously Culture Editor (2016-17). Sporadic writer for the Wessex Scene, DJ on Surge, known photobomber of SUSUtv's videos. Bad habits include Netflix, not doing my work and drinking too much tea.

5 Comments

  1. avatar
    David Mitchell-Baker on

    I think the film tries more than anything (particularly in the first half) to split the audience on whose side they should take, it’s very much the focus.
    It’s a Captain America movie because it is more about Cap and Bucky than anything else and he is the one at the center of all of it; American hero turned traitor when he tries to rightly defend the only person in the world he has left (hence the importance of Peggy’s death) and ultimately expose Zemo as the real problem.
    Falcon is loyal to Cap and agrees with his stance, Falcon learnt in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he could only ever really trust Cap in these uncertain times. Hawkeye was called in as extra numbers purely because Cap didn’t know how out of hand things were gonna get and he needed all the support he could get against Stark and the government. Sharon Carter wasn’t necessarily needed but still provides Cap with another ally similar to Peggy and I think that she’ll play a bigger part going forward.
    Fury is meant to be dead so he would never show and Banner is MIA after Age of Ultron and everybody knows that the Hulk can’t be contained or controlled, he’s the endgame/secret weapon to unleash when all else fails.
    But I do agree that the romance seems a little off kilter in Marvel movies in general, there’s only ever been a few romance stories that I’ve liked/appreciated. Praise God that Natalie Portman isn’t coming back for Thor: Ragnarok!
    I like the article though, my points aren’t meant as criticisms and, if I am coming across this way, I don’t mean to sound rude 🙂

    • avatar
      James Barker on

      I’m glad to hear the flaws to my argument honestly! Though I stand by most of my comments, Falcon can stay I suppose 😉

      • avatar
        David Mitchell-Baker on

        I have a lot to say mainly cos I’ve kinda poured over this movie so much since I saw it and I’ve thought over how I would rate/score it for a while as well haha!
        But my love for Falcon increased with the scene with him and Bucky in the car 😉

  2. avatar

    Whilst in fairness, I do believe that Hawkeye’s involvement did raise an eyebrow in trailers and such, it is explained pretty clearly in the film (at least I believe so) that he found family life and isolating himself from helping his friends and doing what is right did not satisfy him, he loved being out in the field. I don’t think the government is unfairly targetting Bucky as he is seen to be behind, what they believe, are acts of terrorism and up until a point, there is no way for them to know he’s being set up. Furthermore, as someone else has stated, the ‘noteable’ absences have been somewhat documented considering Bruce Banner disappearing at the end of AoU and his involvement in Thor: Ragnarok, as is of course, Thor. I for one, didn’t dislike the romance between Scarlett Witch and Vision; it works because it feels like Vision is becoming accustomed to this new world and he finds a connection with Scarlett Witch as she was probably getting used to being reintegrated into society, which is why it might feel weird, these aren’t normal people.

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