This review is an emotional outpouring, so there will DEFINITELY be spoilers. If you want to go into Civil War with an empty mind, kindly wait to read this until after you go to the theater. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
This movie was advertised as #TeamCap vs. #TeamIronMan, and from the beginning I knew which side I would be on. Even though Captain America was the world’s most boring superhero to me for much of Marvel’s first movies, he is now nearest and dearest to my heart. This is 100% because of CA: Winter Soldier, and in particular, the scene in which his rousing speech encourages Nameless Tech Guy to do The Right Thing despite having a gun to his head. His loyalty and optimism are MY JAM, and I will follow him to the end of the line.
The weird thing is, I don’t think the movie wants us to root for Iron Man. Tony Stark becomes increasingly paranoid and emotionally compromised throughout the film, and whatever good motives he had in the beginning quickly reveal themselves to be based in fear and anger. Plus it’s never a good sign when the people you’re aligning yourself with frequently refer to people as weapons (as the Secretary of State What’s His Name does about Scarlet Witch, the Hulk, AND Thor). Gross.
Steve Rogers never forgets that people are people. I am in love with his ideology that commits to trusting in the best of people – even if he is let down by a person here or there (even to catastrophic results), he refuses to give up on believing that people are capable of change and of good. OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN.
The friend I went with is #TeamIronMan, and she joked that I was only on Cap’s side because he is hot. This is a ridiculous accusation, because absolutely everyone in this movie is hot, which brings me to…
Let’s be real. Half the appeal of superhero movies is to watch men and women in prime physical condition wear spandex. I’m not a fan of the hyper-sexualization of (especially the female) outfits in the comic world, but I’m a huge fan of the movies’ ability to show off some shapely forms without being ridiculous. Oh, and even though I am not #TeamCap because of his looks, that scene when he stops the helicopter from flying away by winning the most incredible Gun Show? *fans self*
But all-American boys have never been my particular preference. I like them filthy, sad, and half-robot! I am, of course, referring to Bucky Barnes, everyone’s favorite traumatized soldier. When the film began with a flashback of Bucky, I sat back in my seat with a satisfied grin on my face. Clearly the movie knew where its priorities needed to be. And despite a truly amazing ability to juggle a huge cast, the film keeps the emotional heart beating between Cap and Bucky (and I guess Iron Man, but ugh, his ego-mania has turned into idiocy, and I am not here for that). THEY LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. (Side note: the Steve Rogers/Sharon Carter romance is unappealing to me for two reasons. 1) It seems a little too gross that she is the niece of his first love, and 2) The two of them have far less chemistry than there is between Cap and Bucky.)
Other hot people? Literally everyone else. I felt so sorry for Martin Freeman, who is an attractive enough normal-looking person. But when he stands in a crowd of these Unreal Hot People….well, if I were him I would have left the filming feeling very insecure, like a mortal among gods.
BUT BACK TO BUCKY. I’ll be honest, I have read a LOT of fanfiction about Bucky’s recovery from his Winter Soldier trauma, and some of them were so well-constructed that I was sure the actual movie would let me down. Imagine my delighted surprise that the writers had really given thought to what it means to be brainwashed. I LOVED the hard line the movie took about his innocence without denying him the right to mourn and feel guilty “You aren’t responsible for what you did.” “Yeah, but I did it.” And later, “I remember all of them.”
I can’t? Even? What HORROR, to be aware of murdering person after person, to not care, and then all of a sudden your humanity is switched back on, and you think, “I didn’t mean to kill all those people, but their blood is still on my hands and their faces still in my memory.” POOR BUCKY.
I was sad that (in the cut scene during the credits) Bucky decides to go back under ice in the end. Honestly, this feels like a meta choice to keep Sebastian Stan out of any and all future Marvel movies, since otherwise he and Cap will follow each other around like puppies. But then my friend said she really liked it, because it was his choice, and after all of the actions forced upon him, he finally had some agency.
Okay, okay, but! I want him in every film for the rest of my life! * sigh* I guess if I can’t have him, I will just satisfy myself with all the new characters introduced in the movie.
Is everyone as amazed as I am at how good Marvel is at establishing characters (their backstory, quirks, motivations, personalities) in such a short time frame? Incredible.
At the top of the New to Us heap is Black Panther! I’d heard a lot about T’Challa online, and I was prepared to think he was the coolest superhero of anyone ever. This was not my immediate opinion, since he spent the majority of the movie attempting to kill my boy Bucky. He had some really cool fight scenes, and I love the vibranium suit, (and obviously anyone who is introduced with the question, “So, do you just really like cats?” is going to be my fav), but it wasn’t until the end that he stole my heart and I realized what everyone loved about him.
That scene! At the end! The whole point of superheroes, to me, is that they remind us of what humans are like at their best (not just physically, but morally). (Side note, this is why I’m not a huge fan of the DC movies, which seem intent upon using superheroes to remind us of what humans are like at their worst.) But okay, Black Panther. The whole movie he has been consumed by revenge, but when he sees the villain and realizes what chaos and tragedy a pursuit of revenge can cause, he says, “No more.” The villain, who just wanted to die, would have fallen back on Plan B, aka suicide, and I fully expected Black Panther to allow this and therefore have his cake and eat it too. BUT THEN he jumped forward and stopped the bullet and allowed the villain to live and my heart soared into my eyeballs and I LOVE HIM, reader. What a wonderful warrior king, I’m super excited for his upcoming solo movie.
The other famous new face is Spiderman! His quips are half annoying and half hilarious, which is exactly the right balance for a teenage superhero. And I’m so glad we have a teenage superhero on the team! I cracked up at the “What are you? Spider Boy?” “Spiderman.” “Well, okay.” He’s fun, but I’m here for the grownups.
Stalkers will know that there is one key person missing from this review: my girl Black Widow! While she is criminally underused here (she should be in every scene, no matter what), I liked what the movie did with her. She is at her best when she’s using her intelligence and forward-thinking to make decisions on her own, and although I LOVE her BFF relationship with Cap, I was thrilled to see her siding against him. For awhile. But I REALLY liked when the chips were down and she defended her boy Steve and helped him get away. Yeah, girl. Still waiting for her solo movie.
Oh, and related. Is this the time to talk about the epic superhero smackdown? Because it somehow managed to be both really fun and really heartbreaking. These people we know and love are suddenly trying to hurt each other, and I was very impressed by how the stakes felt high even though we knew most of these people really liked each other. My heart was all over the place – when Black Widow and Hawkeye were fighting, I legitimately clutched at my chest because NO THEY ARE BEST FRIENDS, but then she cracks a smile and says, “We’re still friends, right?” and awww, they’re just messing around.
But not everyone was messing around!!! SOB. But also, Ant-Man got big-ified, which was a moment when I actually cheered a little out loud, because I have been WAITING for that. But also, oh my gosh, that last fight between Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky? BRUTAL. Crying for days, but also not because it was SO heartwarming to see Cap and Bucky’s enduring and total trust in each other.
I’m rambling. Anything else worth saying right now? Oh, the Scarlet Witch/Vision flirting? I’m here for it. Why not have a sorceress and a sentient computer system fall in love? THAT is the kind of Beauty and the Beast love story I can get behind, not that Black Widow/Hulk nonsense from the second Avengers movie.
And finally: BUCKY. ❤