Sunday, November 20, 2016

Captain America: Civil War ***1/2

“Civil War” presents the premise that as superheroes have risen to protect the world, ever-more-super villains have risen to challenge them. The very existence of enhanced individuals seems to be putting humanity in constant jeopardy. The superheroes have to rise to each challenge, and the ensuing battles always seem to create a lot of collateral casualties. The world is tired of it, and the U.N. demands that the Avengers submit to a multi-government oversight system. The Avengers would no longer be answerable only to themselves. They would become U.N. Soldiers following orders.

Ironman Tony Stark, feeling guilty about the people killed in his past battles, buys into the plan. Captain America, also known as Steve Rogers, doesn't. This is Cap's movie, so of course we side with him, but the film does a reasonable job of presenting both sides of the argument. The autocratic model under which these heroes have been operating does seem a bit presumptuous. They jet around the world, unleashing tremendous powers in various countries, without the consent of the people they are “protecting.” The U.N.'s proposal would place that power under the control of the world's citizens, at least to the extent that the U.N. and the governments controlling it represent those people. There's the rub, and the reason that Rogers won't sign on to the plan. The Avengers are imperfect, but they at least know each other and each others' motives, which are generally good. Rogers isn't willing to surrender his team's individual consciences to the control of a faceless, conscience-less entity like the U.N.

In a sense, this is where the Captain America story on film has been headed all along. The Avengers have squabbled amongst themselves from the beginning, and in this film all of that discord finally breaks out into a full-scale war, where everyone has to choose sides. Of course, this sets up the perfect fantasy scenario. Every comic fan has had the “Who would win in a fight?” conversation, and “Civil War” delivers that fight, allowing us to see the heroes pit their powers against each other. It's the perfect movie for a teenage boy, which of course is who these movies are largely designed for. There's a bit more meat in this film than most,though. This authority-versus-individual argument is a complicated one, and “Civil War” manages to convey some of that complexity without pretending to deliver any final answers. Not bad for a comic-book movie.

3.5 stars out of 5   

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