The title of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) — cover by Michael Turner, all rights to current holder — is pure clickbait, to tie it in with that comics Big Event (and it’s depressing that would actually encourage anyone to go to the theater, but that’s another matter). In reality, the premise of the U.S. government demanding the Avengers put themselves under the authority of a UN commission is irrelevant to the film—and that’s a good thing.
Because that premise is pretty weak. We have to believe that a)the U.S. government is actually concerned when counter-terrorism causes collateral damage in the Third World (nope); b)the government actually cares when the rest of the world criticizes our policies; c)the government would be willing to put a powerful U.S. asset (and I think the Avengers qualify) under international control (at one point Ross compares the Avengers to nukes; anyone think we’d put our nukes under U.N. supervision?). Not to mention that the initial deaths in Lagos are reasonably defensible: Wanda’s in the middle of a crisis situation, she attempts to remove a suicide bomber from a crowded plaza, but can’t get him far enough away to stop collateral damage. I can understand her feeling guilty but it’s hard to see why the rest of the team doesn’t stick up for her (the Vision excepted—this has the start of the Vizh/Wanda romance that captivated me so much in the Bronze Age).
None of that matters though, because the plot doesn’t really depend on whether Captain America supports registration or not. The core of the plot is that the Winter Soldier has been framed for a terrorist attack and our government, among others (including the Wakandan leader the Black Panther) has decided to take him out or bring him in, whichever works. Cap believes his old buddy is innocent (and he’s right) and sets out to save Bucky. Tony objects. The team divides and in the grand tradition, has a lot of Hero vs. Hero fights (spectacular fights to boot). It’s lots of cool super-hero action, some good acting, and just plain fun, particularly the new Spider-Man (“Kid, my fights don’t usually involve this much talk.”).
I was disappointed in the big finish. It felt like a whole lot of pieces fell into place conveniently—how did Zemo even know that the information on Stark’s parents was the key he needed, for instance? And Zemo himself is almost too mundane, a grieving revenge-prone father. I could see him wanting revenge on Tony (who did, after all, create Ultron) but destroying the whole team? And given Zemos of two generations have been major players in the MU, I could have done without them using that name (cover by Jack Kirby, all rights to current holder) And the final battle felt perfunctory, like the creators just had to have it come down to a death match.
On a minor point, I loved T’Challa, but I hated his costume, which seems like too many other costumes. I’d have preferred the straight black cloth of his Silver Age look, then just say it has vibranium armor woven into it or something.
Still, overall this was a spectacular, entertaining film. Glad I caught it.