Monday, May 16, 2016
Movie Monday: Captain America: Civil War
If you like superhero movies, Captain America is one you should see. It comes from Marvel Studios, the capable Disney affiliate, and to the extent that a superhero movie can be said to have a coherent plot, this one delivers. At least, it sort of delivers
The backdrop for the movie is a developing international consensus among human governments that superheroes need to be regulated. A large batch of Marvel's Avengers team of enhanced human characters -- Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, War Machine and Ant-Man -- weigh in on the topic, pro and con, but their good-guy impulses are frustrated when they are confronted by bad-guy characters who also possess superpower enhancements.
(This plot echoes a similar element in the Batman v. Superman movie a couple months back. My impression is that newer blockbusters are straining to involve the superheroes with more personal-human-political concerns while also maintaining the bench-clearing battle sequences that are the genre's stock in trade. This is a difficult concept to carry off, but we can give DC Comics and Marvel credit for trying.)
The limiting factor in this film's plot is that Captain America's backstory is not revealed until almost the end, at which point the audience understands why the guy has behaved the way he has. This information may have been known to people who have kept up with Avengers movies over the years, but it was news to me.
The Captain America action scenes are better than many. The best one involves a complicated chase on an underground roadway full of cars and trucks. A less fully realized event is an intrasquad Avengers battle that demolishes an inexplicably empty airport and a large airplane.
You have to take these scenes with several large grains of salt. If superhero characters are indestructable, why do they bother fighting, especially over whether they are willing to let human governments tell them when they are allowed to fight?
Amusingly, after one battle, Tony Stark (the human incarnation of Iron Man) wears a sling on his arm. As if he was injured somehow. Yeah, right.
All that's left to mention is that this movie introduces characters in future Marvel films. (This is common in superhero movies, something like product placements in television programs.)
First is Black Panther, a superhero African prince played by Chadwick Bozeman, who will star with Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o in a largely African American- and African-casted Marvel drama in early 2018. Last year's Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler will direct.
Second is ANOTHER reboot of Spider-Man, who appears in Captain America as recently enhanced teenager Peter Parker. Sony made five Spider-Man movies of steeply declining quality between 2002 and 2014. Spider-Man was also the subject of the most expensive and possibly the most flawed Broadway musical ever; it closed just two years ago.
No matter. Marvel will release its own Spider-man movie in July 2017.