Why I walked out of Captain America Civil War
Summary : it's Cowardly, Ungenuine and too Long.
Warning : Contains Spoilers and some coarse language
Secondly : I also want to apologise to the Russo brothers : I honestly think they didn't make a bad movie, but it was very much not the movie I wanted to see, or to an extent the movie I felt was promised. I'm happy to apologise to anyone I offend, but I honestly feel this to be true even if I'm in the massive minority.
I realise I should have walked out during the Big Fight in the airfield, because as Scarlet Witch says to Hawkeye "you're pulling your punches". And that's also what I believe this movie did. It pulled its punches.
For a movie called "Captain America Civil War" for the war to feel this flippant seems to be to miss the point. This wasn't about people fighting about what they believed in, it was people NOT REALLY fighting for something they mostly DIDN'T believe in.
And I was bored. This movie was so self-indulgent and long that it was only mildly interesting at best for much of the runtime (yes, that's an opinion, but it's mine) - the pretext of the film is particularly weak because the underlying mystery is "what's going on?". Daniel Bruhls Zemo has a motivation that's hidden, which means we don't know why he's doing what he's doing, and since he can't play his hand explicitly, it's just build-up after build-up after build-up climaxing with (I guess) "Oh, I already killed those guys earlier. Here, have a fight scene among yourselves". Okay... thanks? Although that's not enough to get me to walk out of a movie, either.
I can be honest: I liked the notion of the underlying disagreement in principle, the notion of whether great power needs oversight or not. The pretext for the movie was rubbish, but the argument itself is interesting. I don't think people are on the right side of the argument they'd naturall be on (why would Iron Man want oversight? Why would a soldier want freedom? Why do two separate deux ex machinas give a crap either way?)
But the seeds of the problem are already there too: it's a moral question, and you can't punch your way out of it any more than Superman v Batman failed to also resolve the question of vigilantism vs oversight by people punching each other. The person who wins in a fist-fight isn't the person who wins the moral argument about violence, ya know? (unless you believe Otto von Bismarck, who said "Might Makes Right").
The issue is : this movie spent the first hour talking about how bad fighting is, and how bad deaths are, and how this is bad even in a world where aliens are invading and robots are dropping extinction-level events onto the planet. That's a fucking dumb view to hold within this univerise and NOBODY says that. Nobody in the Avengers says "Fine. we'll just let Crossbones get away with the killer virus or whatever because stopping him risks lives. And we can't afford to risk lives stopping a killer who is going to kill people even though we know doing so will kill people.". Which is demonstrably moronic.
Also, in a meta sense : fuck you movie - I go to a cinema to watch these sorts of movies, and you're spending an hour telling me I'm wrong to enjoy watching those sorts of movies.... and you're charging me for that?
Next you'll be telling me I shouldn't have loved Deadpool. But I did.
But let me ask the question again : did the creators of the movie really intend to make us feel bad about liking cartoony violence enough to spend a fucking hour talking about the bad consequences of cartoony violence…. before subsenquently giving us an hour of precisely that kind of cartoony violence?
Because if the answer is "yes" then I'm actually sorry that I didn't walk out sooner. At least Batman v Superman attempted (poorly) to apologise for mean-spirited violence. Marvel's violence has always been much more contextually acceptable within the world it inhabits.
But that's not why I walked out. I also didn't walk out because Peter Parker called out Cap's shield for not following the laws of physics, even though I'm a fairly firm believer in the idea that internally calling out a movie for its bullshit WITHIN the movie doesn't make the bullshit any more palatable. And how long was the Mutual Admiration Society scene between Tony Stark and Peter Parker? I thought Wonder Woman watching youtube clips on a plane to seed the Justice League was bad... this character introduction was way more egregious. And it was in a Captain America movie!
On which subject, a side-note : Can we decide whether vibranium absorbs and nullifies all impacts? Because an explosion to Cap's shield at the start of the movie propelled him backwards when previously even Thor bashing down it with a hammer didn't move it downwards. Between everything Vision, Scarlett Witch, and Vibranium can or can't do depending on the requirements of the plot, there's really no point to any fight scene is there?
Also, thanks to the movies' newfound puritanical streak, you're not even allowed to
damage buildings anymore - gotta find an airfield to have a fight.
Hey, why not hold it in a vat of ikea balls next time?
This movie feels like a comic book and physics is broken : bodies don't fall or move like they should anymore, kicks to cars don't feel right, even car crashes look fake. Which is a pity because I loved the pretty decent attempts at realism in Winter Soldier - it's much easier to feel the realism in something when it LOOKS and FEELS real. But it doesn't - it now looks fake as f**k but the morality underpinning it is really, really serious.
But that's not why I walked out.
I also really disliked the comedy of the big fight in the airfield. It's so hard to "enjoy" a fight when nobody is taking it seriously, or caring about the stakes. It's just loud noise and quips. I'll admit I did think about walking out then.
But I knew what was coming : no matter how they sliced it, the Russos had played their hand in the trailer : I knew Warmachine was going to get shot down. The fight, no matter how cutesy and amusing (and f**king long), was going to get REAL. At least somewhere there'd be life and death consequences, no matter how many laughs Spiderman and Antman were throwing out.
….. but it didn't - the Russos turned cowards, because in the words of Agent Coulson in Avengers they "lack conviction". Nobody in Civil War felt strongly enough to shoot anyone. That's why War Machine is felled by accidental stray friendly fire from Vision.
With all due respect : you COWARDS!!
Instead, the accidentally-shot War Machine falls to earth and impacts it at mach 10 or whatever, and he dies due to accident. Oh wait… he doesn't die???
YOU FUCKING COWARDS.
That's such a cop-out. Hey, even Superman died for ten minutes before the end credits! THAT'S consequences (sort of!).
Another quick side-question : did Iron Man really not give a shit about how many people died in Sokovia until he learned an AMERICAN died? Did I cognate that correctly? WOW. Just thought I'd ask.
But no, that's not why I walked out either.
I walked out when the Russos retcon the death of Tony Stark's parents to be caused by The Winter Soldier. Actually, that's not true : I could have handled that (my eye sockets were straining due to all the rolling my eyes were doing, though). No.... I walked out when Tony turns to Cap and asks if he knew. And of course he didn't know. We'd KNOW if he knew.
But he says he knew.
And that's when I walked out. Because that's bullshit. Firstly, 1991 security cam footage? Really? But forget that, it's bullshit even if he's lying - because this whole movie KNOWS it can't stand on a moral issue, it has to make it personal. In a movie premised upon a difference of opinion, it needs a serious fight-scene. And even if Cap was lying in order to protect Bucky from Stark's wrath (?) it's still bullshit. This movie has nowhere to go except yet another fight where nobody dies and there are no consequences because Infinity War 1 and 2 are still to come.
I walked out because didn't need to see that fight, just like I didn't need to see the reconciliation, I didn't need to see the hugs and the promises and the post-credits stinger. I should have walked out sooner, but I gave this movie multiple chances.
I'm sure I'm in the minority on this. It's great if you liked the movie - if anything, I'm jealous, because honestly and genuinely I wanted to as well. I wanted to like this movie but I couldn't because it was cowardly with its premise, clumsy in its execution and it felt like nothing mattered. In the Age of Ultron the Age lasted about a week. In Civil War it's too many jokes for it to be called Civil, and not enough people taking the fight serious for it to be a War.
I'm kind of done with Marvel.
They might lack conviction, but I don’t think I do.
I'll keep attending the premieres, though. They're fun.