When 3's a Crowd But Everyone Fits
In my previous post I had stated my distaste briefly for Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's convoluted, has so many moving parts and does too much with too many people to be a completely enjoyable experience. I read one review of the film that said if the film were divided by the number of characters and screen time, each 'main' character would get roughly 7 minutes. Either way it was a lot and didn't really care for it. It's one of my bottom two marvel movies, the other being Iron Man 3 (more on that later because I know I am in the minority). At any rate Cap 3 does what Avengers 2 didn't, put a bunch of characters on screen in a way that makes sense, I never feel like anyone isn't supposed to be there and everyone gets quality time to make their position known and understood. So lets take this piece by piece
Firstly, the Russo's did a good job of weaving together a topical and relevant movie that once again comments on the modern age of war and how ideologies more than ever end up in bloodshed. They also do a great job of making it clear (no spoilers) that both men are right in their own way and wrong in their own way. At no point did I feel like either was completely right or completely wrong. No matter how you slice it, it's not black and white. Which brings me to my next point, in terms of highlighting black actors in comic book cinema, I applaud the sensitivity with which Black Panther was treated. African culture is often shown to be savage and misunderstood and in need of western saving. Here, T'challa and T'chaka are clearly the ones who are above the petty warring that scours the globe. They stay out of the conflicts of the world while trying to help as a benevolent and progressive nation. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is great. He excuses both regal humility and focused youthful rage in his pursuit of the Winter Soldier. Every scene he is in he captures, fight or otherwise and when he fights it is a sight to see and now I am looking forward to the Black Panther movie more so than before. Additionally the strength and conviction of Rhodey is put on great display and in many ways highlights and echoes the cost of your beliefs and making piece with that. Not to mention I feel as though we have seen far too little of War Machine in action since he first appeared in Iron Man 2. Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson once again plays well off of Cap and almost as a second in command to Steve Rogers both as friend and soldier. (sidenote this is probably some of the best portrayals of black superheroes in years). The three way friendship/competition between him, Bucky and Cap also is done well with one humorous seen in particular involving a VW Beetle.
Jeremy Renner as dry and wily Hawkeye is also given more depth again as a mentor to one-time enemy Scarlet Witch who grows as well from victim to purposed perpetrator of great super-heroic tragedy. I also like the subtle nods to Vision's growing affection for Wanda. It shows more of his humanity considering he is complete synthetic, mind, body and soul, unlike other iterations of his character. Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda also is clearly demonstrated to be the better of the two Maximoffs chosen to live (spoiler if you haven't watched Age of Ultron) in this franchise and I'm glad she isn't used as fodder for fanboy sexual objectification but rather sympathetic victim turned perpetrator almost.
Now for the standouts both good and bad. I was extremely skeptical of Spidermans inclusion in the film. I was thankfully wrong to be so skeptical, he was great and is arguably the best on screen interpretation of Peter Parker and Spiderman. Tom Holland is a welcome addition to the MCU and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May (a much younger, more vibrant, Aunt May) is also welcome. However Spidermans inclusion via invitation from Tony Stark brought about some uncomfortable feelings. Peter Parker is a teenager, 17 if I remember correctly and he is recruited into a super-powered war he has no true stake in. Yes, he believes in the cause but he isn't old enough to drink or even join the Armed Forces. He is effectively used as a child soldier, something I am not comfortable with at all. Perhaps as a teacher I am reading too much into it but I find it concerning that this is never addressed in the film by anyone on either side. There is some great banter between Spidey and the other heroes but seriously, what happens if HE gets hurt or worse? He's not swinging through the streets of manhattan he's fighting The Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Hawkeye, heavy hitters who rarely or never miss. Maybe the point is to show that both Cap and Iron Man do things they wouldn't normally do to further their cause they think is right but if that wasn't the point then that is a glaring plot point that was glossed over in favor of utilizing a long lost character to maximize ticket sales. Now Ant-Man was another story. He is recruited simply to help them track down the culprit of the terroist attack that sets things in motion hat Winter Soldier has been blamed for. Paul Rudd is funny, charming and provides in my opinion one of the best surprises in the entire movie that makes the Airport scene go from a good fight to a great one. Long story short, he belongs here, no question.
The only true gripes I had besides the child soldier issue of Spiderman was that Black Widow was once again used in a predictable and tiresome. I wish her character could act as more than a plot device because they keep giving her depth and making her more three-dimensional but the spy/double-agent aspect of her character sometimes is overwrought as a cheap ploy and the further this franchise goes the more apparent it becomes that she has more to offer as a character than initially thought. I also could have done with slightly more motivation behind Hawkeyes arrival as well even though I love his character. Some of the plot that surrounded Cap, Tony and Bucky (and even Zemo) was somewhat problematic and shallow, even nonsensical given how close these character are supposed to be to each other in the case of Cap and Tony. I know this is supposed to be the wedge that drives them apart but some of the plot reveals seemed very on the nose and too obvious. Furthermore if I am to believe that these are super powered people then shouldn't have a greater level of self control and basic communication? But I guess if that were the case the movie would just be an hour long conversation between two guys dressed in costumes.
Nevertheless Cap 3 was a throughly enjoyable experience that demonstrated how a big cast doesn't have to be a big burden. It makes me more hopeful for future team movies to come and less worrisome that I will see another Age of Ultron.
Captain America: Civil War
👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾 and a half/4