STEVE: So, here we are once again, watching as two big name superheroes duke it out while a shadowy villain secretly pulls strings to ensure they end up killing no one but themselves. Yeah, there are many similarities between this film and Batman v Superman, but I think that one thing Brandy and I can agree on is that this is a much better film. Since this is a battle, however, let's get to the stuff we disagree on—at least based on our spoiler free reviews which you can read here and here—and get this battle started...
Lack of Consequences
STEVE: For all the pontificating about consequences in this film, there are actually very few, if any at all. Even War Machine's paralysis is more or less fixed by the time the credits roll. I'm certainly not about to say that Steve Rogers should have died the way he did in the aftermath of the Civil War comic, but come on. What's the point of all the talk of consequences if the film ends before showing what those consequences look like. Everybody's kind of in the exact same place they were after Age of Ultron, meaning that Marvel's just hitting the reset button every time a new movie starts. I will admit that there could some kind of payoff in the cards for Infinity War, but if that turns out to be yet another meaningless "War" with zero casualties, I have to wonder why they're so fond of using that word. Brandy?
BRANDY: To be fair, War is Marvel's Comic Event buzzword. Marvel uses War, DC uses Crisis. DC has more crises than a teenaged girl. And while there isn't any lasting physical damage, all the heroes in the piece (except for Spider-man, who just got a few bruises) sustained some pretty lasting emotional damage. The events of Civil War set the stage for a lot of conflict—Tony's resentment towards Captain America, Scarlet Witch's eventual breakdown (here's my soothsayer moment: we WILL have a massive, time-altering Wanda Maximoff meltdown by the end of phase three), and setting the stage for an even bigger interpersonal conflict between the once-tight team for Infinity War. Plus, the Sokovia Accords now exist. Every hero who operates on earth without registration is now a fugitive. That changes the landscape of the next films in a big way. Are you saying those aren't consequences, Steve? Maybe none of the big damn heroes died, but I'd say there were some pretty serious consequences that raise a lot of questions about how events in the next phase of the Marvel cinematic universe are going to play out. Let's talk about...
Each Hero Got Their Own Moment In The Film Without Bloating It
BRANDY: This was probably my favorite feature about the film. Each hero got their own little moment, which set up their motivations and gave foreshadowing to their next stories. Tom Holland's Spider-Man was perfect. Black Panther was wonderful. That end moment when Black Panther changed sides made total sense from the character we were given—compassionate, noble, confident to almost the point of quiet arrogance (as opposed to Stark's brash arrogance in the film). The Russos made sure all the characters' motivations made sense, and nobody seemed out of place or lacking motivation. I was worried the film was going to be bloated, but everything fit together and each moment felt like it needed to be there. The filmmakers set out to make a good Captain America movie, and ended up making a brilliant Avengers movie. Steve?
STEVE: I think you're on to something by saying that each character got a moment without bloating the film, but for my money, that all came at the expense of the name above the title. While I was never bored while watching the film, scenes just kinda came out of nowhere. Sure the stuff with Spider-Man was fun, and the stuff with Vision and Scarlet Witch wasn't awful, but overall I think there's too much avenging in my Captain America film. Had this been called Avengers: Civil War, I would shut my mouth, but this is the first ostensibly solo film that featured this many characters, and that just pushed Cap to the sidelines in his own film. I would never begrudge a filmmaker or screenwriter for doing character development correctly, which I think this film had in spades, I just don't want it cutting into the main flow of the film. You know one guy that didn't get a decent character moment?
STEVE: I can't be the only person who was LIVID over the death of Bruck Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones. Frank Grillo brought a ton of awesome to The Winter Soldier and then blows himself up five minutes into Civil War? I'm sorry, that's just stupid. The dude seemed like he was going to be a hell of a match for Cap hand to hand, which could have really complicated the bitchy in-fighting later on in the movie. But no, this is just another case of introducing an awesome antagonist just for Marvel to kill him off in another misguided choice. That moment really bothered me. If he had been just another faceless antagonist, it wouldn't have bugged me as much, but in my mind, it was another attempt to wrap up loose Captain America ends so that they could get on with the Avenging. Fuck that noise. Brandy?
BRANDY: I wasn't upset that Crossbones died. I wasn't even upset that he died early. But Rumlow as a suicide bomber? That didn't make much sense to me, given what we've learned about his character. Even outside of the comics, Crossbones isn't the self-sacrificing type. I could have done without Crossbones in the film at all. He didn't add much to the plot for me, and I've always found him kind of a boring, very middle of the road antagonist. I don't think Crossbones would have added much to the film, ultimately. Plus, I feel like it would have distracted from...
Zemo And His Twisty, Twisty Motivation
BRANDY: Talk about a well-written bad guy. Zemo constantly had me guessing. Just when I thought I'd figured out his motivation or his next steps, he did something that blew me away. Daniel Bruhl was incredibly charming and captivating in this role, and that end bit when we find out how all his evil was motivated by vengeance—this is a man who lost everyone he loved, Punisher style—you really felt for him. He was almost TOO good—too smart, too clever, too calculating, too knowledgeable. I mean, besides Inigo Montoya, who puts this much thought into vengeance? But as a Machiavellian mastermind, he was the perfect foil for the blunt object main characters in Civil War. He's weirdly relatable at times, yet totally ruthless. I really got echoes of a thinking man's Frank Castle with Zemo. I loved him. Steve?
STEVE: Meh. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't bothered by him, but he was kind of a non-entity in the film for me. By the time he's monologuing to Black Panther at the end, I was over him. I'm glad they didn't kill him off—way to go MCU writers, you managed to let a villain not named Loki make it through the end credits—but I don't know what sort of impact he'll have going forward. Is Thanos gonna break him out of prison in Infinity War? Otherwise, what's the point of letting him live? The dude's obviously got resources at his disposal, but does anyone work for him, or with him? I don't get how he'll factor in to the future of the MCU, unless they're planning on bringing the Thunderbolts into the equation, at which point, I might totally check out. Also, he totally called Bucky "Becky." Allow me to raise one further point that really bugs me about this movie...
Has Tony Stark Lived Long Enough to See Himself Become the Villain?
STEVE: Ever since 2008's Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr. has helped to propel the character from shit-heel to the face of the franchise. The problem is that it was the Civil War comic that turned Stark into a gigantic bag of douche, and RDJ helped rescue and rehabilitate the character's image. Now we're basically back in the same spot we were at the end of the Civil War comic where Tony is once more a nearly irredeemable asshole. Why do that to the face of your franchise? I know that the Russos and Markus and McFeely really wanted the audience to be able to see his side and Cap's side, but the problem with Stark's side is that he's only kowtowing to the Sokovia Accords for his own selfish ends. I just hate to think that all the time, care, and attention placed on making the character likable again has been flushed down the toilet. Brandy?
BRANDY: His own selfish ends? What part of feeling body-wracking guilt over the death of a promising kid is his own selfish ends? Tony feels completely responsible, and yeah, they threw in that bit about the Sokovia Accords being middle ground between him and Pepper, but that's Tony being Tony. I believe that at the beginning, he fully believes in the SRA. While I wasn't on his side, I was at the end when he was ready to kill Bucky—the "he killed my Mom" was heart-wrenching. I don't think they demonize Tony, I think they humanize him. Tony's always been a bit douchey, thinks he knows everything there is to know—when he got knocked down a peg by that dead kid's Mom, of course he changes his position and is just as firm in his beliefs. Tony does not do doubts, he never really has. Whatever Tony stands behind, that is His Thing That He Defends Tirelessly. Speaking of tireless defending...
Those Fight Scenes, Doe
BRANDY: Oh, my God. How can you make a fight scene on a stark set so captivating? The Russos have perfected the recipe. Just the right amount of banter, moves and flows like a ballet, incredible special effects...and that Giant-Man scene. I nearly lost my shit in the theater. The combat scenes were ripped right out of a comic book cover, and the Russos managed to make them work. I was a little worried in the trailer when I saw the heroes running towards each other full speed—like, in what universe does that make sense? And then when I realized that Cap's team was running towards the Quinjet and Tony's team was trying to stop them... they made it make sense. Those fight scenes were breathtaking. And the shield scene with Tony getting double teamed by Steve and Bucky... poetry, pure and simple.
STEVE: I can only imagine the kind of traffic we're going to be sent now thanks to this sentence: "Tony getting double teamed by Steve and Bucky." But yeah, even my hater ass can't find much fault in the action sequences. They were easily the best thing about the film, which does—in its way—make up for the script's shortcomings. I kinda wish they hadn't blown so many of them in the multitudinous trailers and TV spots, especially the aforementioned three-way between Iron Man, Cap, and Bucky. Still plenty of wow factor in the action sequences, however—save Tasha's sudden parkour skills in the opening battle—though I would've loved not knowing that the final battle was going to involve that threesome.
Welp, I think that just about wraps it up. Anything we missed? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below, along with which of us you think won this battle!