So I had about 100% more feelings about this movie than I expected to. I expected frustration, but the writing was good enough that I actually bought the entire thing, which is, frankly, a miracle. A movie with this many characters should not have worked.
But it kinda did. And I’m really impressed that they were able to pull it off. I am annoyed that Steve didn’t get an emotional arc in his own movie, but I’m also okay with that, because Steve was right. He didn’t really need an arc.
(Sidebar: I haven’t seen an MCU movie since The Winter Soldier, and I have no intention of doing so of my own accord. Tumblr tells me what I need to know, and this way I never have to suffer through Ant-Man.)
ANYWAY, as I said, I was fairly neutral to the whole “pick a side” thing, mostly out of obstinance and because I fucking love Maria Hill. Maria (and Fury, and Pepper…and Thor and Hulk) would have made this film about 10 minutes long, had they been in it, so I understand why they were not. It was nice that everyone but Maria and Fury at least got a lampshade. By the end of the movie, though, I was so firmly Team Cap that I kind of surprised myself.
Because Tony was wrong.
Not about the Accords (though I think of everyone, only Natasha was really RIGHT about the Accords. Of course, she’s also the only one of them who could sign them and then break them if she needed too, WHICH SHE DID). Tony was morally wrong about almost everything that happened in this movie. He straight up told Steve that he wasn’t going to stop, and thanks to that wretched scene with Alfre Woodward (well acted by both of them, I must say, but REALLY unfortunate in existing at all), all he wanted was to be a weapon that someone else held. Steve was willing to be accountable. Steve was willing to be flexible. Tony just wanted…
Okay, so there’s that post about Tony’s PTSD going around tumblr, which I’ve read and mostly agree with. Except that literally every character in this movie (except Rhodey…more on that later), threw Tony a rope at some point in the narrative, and he ignored all of them. And every time he did it, I got more and more angry with his petulant man-baby act, so that by the time he said “He killed my mom”, I was so pissed I could barely see straight.
Backing up a bit, I want to talk about Spider-Man. The fifteen-year-old. Who Tony manipulated into giving the most pro-Steve speech in the ENTIRE MOVIE, and then blackmailed into joining an international conflict. Tony LIED to him, put him in TREMENDOUS danger, and then LEFT HIM IN FUCKING GERMANY WITHOUT A PASSPORT. Will Spider-Man have to sign the accords, Tony?
I kind of hate Tony Stark, which makes me sad, because I LIKE Tony Stark, and now I want him to die. He is literally the only Avenger who needs to be stopped. And he took Rhodey down with him, because of his arrogance.
(Sidebar: SAM WILSON, ladies and gentlemen, whose OWN PARTNER was shot out of the sky. Who DIDN’T FUCKING HESITATE when he realized Rhodey was down, and went after him. Who is emergency medical. Who Tony Stark FUCKING SHOT because Tony Stark has the emotional depth of a teaspoon.)
(Sidebar: THIS MOVIE GAVE US THREE VERY DIFFERENT BLACK GUYS, WHO HAVE DIFFERENT OPINIONS BASED ON DIFFERENT LIFE EXPERIENCE, BUT WHO ARE ALL PRETTY GREAT HUMAN BEINGS.)
Anyway, let’s talk about something else.
So Scarlet Witch has been my low-key favourite every since Colleen told me about her (probably because Colleen neglected to mention that she was a villain, but whatever), but I was quite surprised by how much I loved the movie version. Olsen absolutely nailed it. I’m always here for angry girls with incredible power, so I don’t know why I’m surprised, but, man, I loved her. She was fabulous. She and Vision crammed more into their scenes than basically everyone else in the film (exception: T’Challa), and I am so impressed with their arcs.
I read somewhere that the Russos believe Vision can no longer lift the hammer after what he did in this movie, and I hope they meant because of what he did to Wanda (instead of what he did to Rhodey which, tbh, was Rules of War). His biggest failure is that he did the math and can’t account for the human element, whereas Wanda does the math and can. Their relationship was about 14 times more painful for that reason alone, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED how many of her own choices Wanda got to make (specifically, whether or not she was going to go with Hawkeye. Sure, he opened the door, but she got them both through it in a BIG WAY, and I love her forever).
AND THEN THEY APOLOGIZE TO EACH OTHER. And Wanda forgives herself (for, like, not fucking up at all, btw. She killed, what, 11 people? Instead of the HUNDREDS who were on the ground?), and Vision can’t. Because there is more than math.
Before I leave Wanda, I want to mention the one thing about her storyline that will probably haunt me for a while: her prison outfit. Sure, they’re only in prison for a couple days, but there is no way she can eat or pee in that thing. Someone had to feed her and strip her so that she could go to the washroom. That prison had three guys who are only powerful when they’re wearing suits, and a traumatized girl. Guess which one couldn’t clean herself when she was allowed to use the toilet? I fucking hate Thaddeus Ross.
I really liked Black Widow’s character progression through this. As I said above, she was the only one of them who could sign the accords and then break them. More importantly, she signed knowing she would break them, because that’s just how she rolls. She was smart, she was thoughtful, she used her fucking words, and she made the right decisions. I assume she’s randomly in the wind, as we never see her again, but I trust her. Hopefully she and Sharon are off somewhere, preparing with Maria for whatever comes next.
Natasha’s fight scenes continue to be absolutely staggering, but as much as it pains me…I think the ship has sailed on her movie. Unless it’s a flashback with a different actress to the time she broke free of the Soviets (which I’d be down for, obviously. Still very upset that the Black Widow YA book was not actually about YA Black Widow). I think the reason Wanda might be passing her in my affections is that I know what I’m in for with Wanda. With Natasha, in the early days, we had so much fucking hope.
SPEAKING OF SHARON CARTER. I think she is, really, the only character who “won” Civil War. She makes a speech in public that’s coded directly for Steve (god, Peggy would be so proud). She circumvents her own bosses like NINE TIMES to get the job done. She holds her own as much as can be expected in the fight against The Winter Soldier. I love her so much.
Are we done with Martin Freeman now? I think we should be done with Martin Freeman.
Man, that Black Panther movie can’t get here soon enough. I mean, not only is CB fabulous at the part, and clearly committed, the character was AMAZING. T’Challa’s emotional development was brilliant, and I loved dealing with a character who was so…enlightened. And talented. And good at his job(s).
(Did he sign the accords? Do you give up diplomatic immunity when you sign the accords? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!)
Anyway, BREATH OF FRESH AIR.
I hope whoever does the music for his movie is able to suppress the urge to use “African Flutes” every time he does something cool, though. That was very tiresome.
(Also, I had assumed he and his father were speaking a made-up language, because that’s what nerds do for made-up countries, but apparently it was Xhosa. Even though at least one of the actors is a native speaker, that’s still not cool. Geographically, it’s implausible. It’d be like a “mythic Portuguese” person speaking Polish.)
Okay, now I need to talk about Superhero movies and the suspension of disbelief.
When you go to a superhero movie, there are some things you need to leave outside the theatre. As the genre has gotten “more real”, we bring more into the theatre with us, and one of those things in “real life consequences”. I think that particular horse has been flogged about as much as it can be. The Alfre Woodward scene (I’M SORRY ALFRE WOODWARD) was awful, but the whole thing where Lagos was “Wanda’s fault” was even worse. Because she got FEWER PEOPLE KILLED. And they recovered the damn sample. AND THEY GOT RID OF…fuck I forget his name, but I’m super glad he’s very dead.
I don’t want real life in a comic book movie. I want comfortable justice. I want the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. I am aware that, as stories evolve and our consumption of them changes, that is going to be altered, but I think we’re getting really close to the line. With Tony Stark as the villain (and he was, 100%, the villain of this movie. Random Dude Whose Name I Have Already Forgotten was secondary at best), I’m way past enjoying the film. We’re moving into Hunger Games territory, and that’s not what I’m here for.
It’s strange, because they’ve spent a lot of time setting Steve Rodgers up as infallible in-universe. And then this whole movie was predicated on my believing, for however short a time, that he WAS fallible. And I never did. Even before I was so angry at Tony (who has, for those of you keeping track at home, now become “his own worst nightmare” in literally every one of his appearances on screen), I was still on Team “Oh God Please Talk About Your Feelings”. I never thought that Tony was in the right (though I could sympathize with him a lot more before he got Rhodey nearly paralyzed and recklessly endangered A CHILD).
It’s an interesting place for story-telling. Every time Rhodey, Tony, or Hawkeye were on screen, my overwhelming thought was “You guys are so old”. They’ve been adding new characters to the MCU without writing out the old ones, even when they have the opportunity to do so. Now, they have the chance to take out Rhodey (or at least move him to “management”), and put Tony in a 100% bankroll position. I think both options would be INCREDIBLY favourable, especially as we look down the barrel of introducing Spider-Man (sigh), Black Panther, and Captain Marvel. They are great stories, but it’s time to thin the herd.
I guess what it comes down to is that this might be the best Avengers movie yet…but I really wanted a Captain America movie.