Countdown to Avengers Endgame: Captain America: Civil War
We’re in the Endgame now. Just 8 days to go before Marvel Studios unleashes the biggest theatrical event in a generation (if not ever), capping off a story that is 11 years and 21 films in the making. There’s no denying that what Marvel has done here is unprecedented. As we approach the big day lets take a look back at the films that lead us here.
Captain America: Civil War is the film that started to get a lot of people excited for Avengers: Infinity War. It didn’t leave any significant breadcrumbs to get us there and Thanos doesn’t show up in the credits but it: did bring a massive number of characters together, told a cohesive story and gave us one of the best super hero fight scenes to ever grace the screen. What’s more, it was all done by the pair that would go on to direct Infinity War. With Captain America: Civil War, Marvel gave us a peak of just what they were capable of with an ensemble cast and good directors.
Despite the massive roster of characters appearing in this film it is still ultimately Captain America’s story. Using the frame work of The Sokovia Accords and his relationship with Bucky/The Winter Soldier, Cap finds himself having to choose between doing what’s right and what’s legal as well as protecting a friend, even if the person he is protecting them from is also a friend. In typical Cap fashion he of course refuses the path of least resistance.
At the beginning of the film we see a very different Avengers. Organized, efficient, low profile and resembling a special ops strike team more than the Avengers of the first two films. In many way Cap has re-built his Howling Commandos, only this time it’s his show. When the Sokovia Accords become a reality and the countries of the world look to oversee The Avengers, Iron Man sees oversight and Captain America sees control. Cap has seen first hand the misuse of power time and again and has himself been a tool for someone else’s agenda in the past (and it is safe to say is disillusioned with both the U.S. Government and SHIELD by the time Civil War comes around). Cap knows that by giving control that eventually he will be told to do nothing when lives are at risk and refuses to accept that limitation.
It is of course fate (or screenwriting) that almost immediately after the accords are signed a terrorist conspiracy forces him to choose between protecting Bucky, who did not commit the crime, and being labeled a criminal himself for acting without authority. In this (as the audience) we get to see that while Iron Man/Tony Stark’s argument is one that we would absolutely want in the real world, we also see that Cap is right. Almost immediately after the accords are signed Iron Man becomes a tool of the government, turns on his friends and almost ignores a credible threat to the safety of the world because of it. In the end Tony does ultimately concede this point to Cap in showing up to assist him “off the books.” It is ultimately the “revelation” that Bucky (brainwashed by Hydra) murdered Tony’s parents that cements the riff between them.
It’s worth calling out that Civil War as a crossover event in the comics had mixed reactions, leaning negative. With the MCU version however, we get to watch a schism take place with characters we’ve seen grow over eight years focused primarily through the lens of one character’s experience. Black Widow shows up to Peggy Carter’s funeral and when Steve asks why, her knowing he wouldn’t change his mind on the accords, she admits it was because she didn’t want him to be alone. We’ve seen these characters go from reluctant partners to close friends and allies and it feels earned. So when circumstances push them to clash and fight we feel it too. Because the film is telling Cap’s story primarily we also have a singular thread to lead us through a gluttony of locations, characters and set pieces. All of this makes the theatrical version of Civil War a much more enjoyable story than the comics it is based off of.
I’d feel like I short-changed this write up if I did not also make note of a few things that made me nerd out in Civil War. Black Panther’s introduction here is fantastic, establishing just enough about the character to spark interest and the suit looks amazing. In fact, Black Panther looks better in Civil War than in Black Panther. Also introduced into the mix was of course Spider-man. While today it feels like a given that this would happen, prior to Civil War fans had all but assumed Spidey would never come home. Seeing Spidey on screen with Captain America and Iron Man made the already incredible airport scene all that much better. It really didn’t hurt either that this Spider-man feels the most like the Spider-man I’m familiar with of all the screen adaptations.
Civil War had a lot going on. It would have been impressive if this film simply wasn’t terrible so the fact that it is so well put together is nothing short of amazing. it’s hard to not compare it to Batman v Superman which came out around the same time (it was originally scheduled to come out the same day but DC “blinked first” and moved the date). Another hero filled film that tackled many of the same subjects and even had a major end scene where their mom played a pivotal role. Yet, Captain America: Civil War was well received by fans and critics alike and Batman v Superman appears to have broken Ben Affleck.
A decidedly smaller cast of heroes fights to protect the world from magic and eye shadow in the next segment of our countdown, Doctor Strange.