This won't be much of a REVIEW—there won’t be a lot of analysis of character and conflict or cinematography or style—but it will be very SPOILER-ful. So! If you haven't seen CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR yet, get thee to the theater and watch the heck out of it! And once you have, return and read and compare notes.
Here’s my earlier ramble, post-first-screening. I’m gonna try not to cover any of the same ground, but may refer to it.
Please note that my MCU-memory is a bit faded. I haven't watched WINTER SOLDIER or AGE OF ULTRON since they were in theaters (hope to change that soon-ish). I mention that because I'll try to connect events from CIVIL WAR to other MCU happenings, but may be a bit off in details.
Thought for a couple of minutes that young Tony, from the NARF sim at his MIT address, was played by a Culkin. Didn't see a credit for a Mr. Softee tee'd Stark at the end, tho, so I'm gonna assume that it's some (quite good) makeup + CG magic. And, bonus—always great to see John Slattery!
Is vibranium magnetic? Maybe? If so, seems like it would be an exploitable vulnerability that so far hasn't been, right? I'm gonna say NO, not magnetic.
However, is Cap's SHIELD magnetic? Some part of it is SOMETHING, that's for sure. In FIRST AVENGER we learn that the shield that Steve chooses, from the bottom of the pile of items Howard Stark offers him, is pure vibranium, and made of all the vibranium that's available at that time (outside of Wakanda, we have to assume).
STARK: Stronger than steel, and a third the weight… The rarest metal on earth, what you're holding there, that's all we've got.In the CIVIL WAR opening fracas in Lagos, Crossbones uses some kind of attractive force to get his sticky bomb attached to his shield (a damn good move). An electromagnet seems like the most likely force, right?
So, maybe steel or some alloy that includes iron, nickel, or cobalt is used for the straps. And there's the added hardware that makes the shield retrievable from a distance. I can't remember when the modification was made, in an AVENGERS movie or WINTER SOLDIER, but the shield now clicks into place on Cap's back instead of being worn via straps, and he's "recalled" the shield to his arm/gauntlet, too, right? Why didn't we see that used in CIVIL WAR? Maybe in the cases where he could/should have used it the shield was legit too far?
One thing I was pleased to see in CIVIL WAR that I missed in WINTER SOLDIER was Cap using the shield to cushion his landing from a huge leap or fall. I kind of remember a missed opp in WINTER SOLDIER, when I fully expected Cap to thread his feet into the shield's straps and land on the ground standing up. In CIVIL WAR we saw him take the landing while holding the shield, but then rolling right into a run. Vibranium doing its thing!
Bucky's mechanical arm reacts to Black Panther. I THINK we see the weirdness, something that looks like motor malfunction, both when the Panther confronts him in and out of costume. This makes me think that the reaction is between tech in T'challa's ring, not just his armor. Perhaps they are one in the same, tho.
The ring. did it change once T'Challa put it on his finger? It seemed a smooth square torus when he held it in his hand, presumably remove from his father's. But once on his finger, it seemed to hug his hand, and the design appeared different, similar somehow to the way Stark's tech unfolds itself. Did some of it embed itself in T'Challa's hand? Spread throughout his body?
I don't think we've had any official analysis of the tech/material in Buck's arm. It's stood up to Cap's shield, it's bulletproof, it's protected him from Panther's claws, it's had that weird reaction. I THINK it's safe to say that at least part of his arm is vibranium. And whose science is capable of working w/vibranium to create actual tech except Wakanda's and maybe Stark's (but only as far as creating a shield, right?). Remember, Wakanda is very protective of their vibranium and their tech (see AGE OF ULTRON). Maybe T'challa's got an ulterior motive for helping Steve out by keeping Bucky on ice in Wakanda. He's hoping to draw out whomever's responsible for creating Winter Soldier and stealing their tech and vibranium. It may involve someone or group still operating within Wakanda. Should be a good time.
But… Tony DOES managed to destroy Bucky's arm. It appears to be disintegrated by Iron Man's uni-beam, not just blown off, the hand and forearm lying somewhere on the concrete floor of the Siberian base. Blown off would make sense if it was vibranium allow, right? Disintegrated? I'm not sure. Maybe a high enough setting of repulsor + laser/heat would work. Vibranium IS smeltable at some temperature, right?
Maybe the Panther armor manipulates vibranium dust somehow, together with a forcefield (a la the comic book Iron Man once did, using EM/energy to turn flexible mail into bullet and energy proof armor) or nanites?
Zemo offered to let that Russian Hydra colonel live if he gave up the December 1991 mission report. Instead, "Hail Hydra," drowned in a basement sink. That decision gives us the first half of the movie, right? The only reason he frames Bucky is to get him into the Joint Terrorism Task Force's custody so that he can recite the Winter Soldier trigger code and get the intel on the Siberian base. The bombing of the UN conference to sign the Sokovia Accords did not have to happen—its sole purpose was to flush Bucky out of hiding—but it definitely tips the Avengers into disassembling. Kinda nuts, but not part of Zemo's original plan.
VISION & SCARLET WITCH…
I rambled a bit about Wanda’s perplexing abilities in my earlier post. Is it TK? Is it chaos magic? Is it reality-warping? All that I can say given what we’ve seen of her powers at work is that it’s inconsistent w/TK unless she has some kind of preternatural sense of reality as well. This post, I’m gonna speculate on what Vision’s sympathetic words to Wanda could mean for their powers.
When Vision talks to Scarlet Witch, he tells her that he doesn't know what the gem in his forehead is. He knows it came from Loki's staff, he knows that it's responsible for his own creation, and the Witch's powers, but he doesn't UNDERSTAND it, but someday he will, someday he'll master it. This is to explain and express sympathy for Wanda's misgivings about herself, her own powers, and the threat they can pose to anyone around her.
I forget, which Infinity Stone do we think it is?
Is the Witch's power still connected to it? Or did it change her and her brother for good? Zola and Hydra siphoned power from the Tesseract and stored it. Is similar tech what transferred Vision's/Loki's gem energy into the Maximoffs?
If she does still have some kind of connection to the gem, that may help explain how she sends Vision underground. Wanda somehow "reaches into" the gem to manipulate and overpower Vision's density control.
What was up w/Wanda when imprisoned in the Raft? She seemed to be not just imprisoned, but sick, suffering, somehow. Is proximity to the gem important? She and Pietro were probably never too far from it when Hydra created and handled them, right?
What's happened to Extremis? We've seen it out in the wild in AOS. Couldn't, wouldn't, Stark revisit it to help Rhodey recover?
ZEMO IS A MASTERMIND, BUT…
His manipulations are remarkable, and make this unenhanced human being the most effective foe the Avengers have so far faced. However, on paper, he's a bit confusing. He was part of some Sokovian secret police, but easily acknowleding that Sokovia was already a failed state, in my mind kind of reveals himself to be an opportunistic soldier of fortune. The last voicemails from his wife, and the story about finding the body of his father, wife, and child after days of searching, are meant to paint him as somewhat sympathetic. Altogether, that should have been presented to us in a complex and, I'd hope, dynamic character package. What we got… Well, not so much. His abilities (and patience and experience): formidable. His presence: not so much.
Perhaps that's the point? A point?
Helmut Zemo, of Sokovia's Echo Scorpion program, really does his homework. Puts together some dates and locations and deduces that Winter Soldier is responsible for the Starks' deaths. He also gets that the target of that mission, Howard Stark's cargo, is some form of super-soldier serum (blue, like Erskine's original formula, also like Kree blood =). He also gets that this stolen serum was used to create Winter Super Soldiers from Hydra's most elite bastards. Were they ever deployed? Given their volatility, it seems unlikely, but perhaps their existence was whispered of, a ghost story in the covert intel community? And Zemo found enough clues in the Hydra data to connect real dots.
But hey—how the heck does Cap know that Bucky killed the Starks? Bucky remembers every assignment, true, but when would he have had a chance to share that with Cap? Or was this something that Fury kept to himself, and passed on to Steve, but not Tony, for y'know, reasons. I'll go with that for now.
At the end of the film, REALLY felt like the stage was set for Zemo getting a deal/offer of some kind from Martin Freeman's Ross (is he related to Thunderbolt?). I immediately thought/hoped that Freeman was Hydra, looking to recruit, but then thought that perhaps it might be a "legit" offer from the Joint Terrorism Task Force or whatever the entity is called. The way the gov recruits black hats to be white hats in hacker-dom. Zemo has proven himself able to take apart a team of enhanced so-called heroes. He could be valuable asset when it comes to checking supers in the future. Of course, one has to wonder what kind of motivation he would need to participate in such a program.
I covered this in my earlier ramble, but will say it again—I wish that the name Zemo had been reserved for a more comic book Zemo-like nemesis of Captain America. Perhaps, tho, that is what he will become…?
IRON MAN vs. CAPTAIN AMERICA.
Spidey tells Cap, "Tony told me to go for your legs." I wonder if Tony/Friday's got files on all of the Avengers, a la Bruce Wayne vs. the JL. Given his extended battle w/Cap and Bucky, tho, it seems like maybe not. Kind of a huge oversight on the part of the futurist who developed Hulkbuster armor, tho, donchathink?
When engaged vs. Cap in the Winter Soldier complex, FRIDAY tells Tony that you can't possibly beat him in hand-to-hand (comics fans have got to be loving that =). Tony then orders FRIDAY to analyze Cap's attacks and after a few seconds of taking hits, she loads up a countermeasure program that unshields Cap and gets him on the ground. Does FRIDAY take over the suit when he orders countermeasures?
LOVE the callback to FIRST AVENGER when Tony gets the upper hand and gives Steve an ultimatum, and Steve rises to the occasion…
TONY: Stay down. Final warning.In FIRST AVENGER…
STEVE: I can do this all day.
BULLY: You just don't know when to give up, do you?If you really take that as an echo, that puts Tony in the position of the bully. A simplistic reduction of his character and motivation… Is it fair?
STEVE: I can do this all day.
It's hard to defend Tony's petulance in the writing of this film. It's not inconsistent (it’s maybe all too consistent), but it seems unfair, doesn’t it? We almost only get to see him at his weakest and worst. Can you imagine a counterpart film, IRON MAN: CIVIL WAR, that covers most of these same events, but from Tony's POV? Could it be written and made in such a way that we're sympathetic to Tony and less so to Steve? Are we missing more of what's at stake on Tony's side?
DOES ANYONE IN THE AUDIENCE CHOOSE TEAM IRON MAN?
Something I would have loved to have had spelled out in the film—Cap has the luxury of always doing the right thing because Stark and Fury and SHIELD exist.
I'd love to see the acrobatics needed to get us to see Cap as in the wrong. What is the straw that could break his camel's back? WW2? Peggy? The future loss of Sharon? The future loss of millions in some disaster he failed to prevent? If I could shape it, I think the best place would be in INFINITY WAR, when the gauntlet is full assembled and powered and anyone who touches or wears it has a glimpse of how they could reshape reality. Maybe everyone actually agrees it should be up to Cap to fix whatever damage Thanos has done, and Cap is tempted to save/restore losses that are personal, perhaps wipe out evils done and evil doers, but it takes Tony to stay his gauntleted hand, because those people had and made their choices, killed, cared, sacrificed, suffered, and in the end, led to the present/future that they're protecting to begin with. Changing/rewriting that undoes the good as well as the bad. Or something… Something left in the hands of better writers. =)
How much of Tony's stated resentment of Steve is real? He loves to mention how Howard never shut up about knowing/meeting Steve when he was growing up, but honestly, we've never seen that in AGENT CARTER. But then, we've never really seen Howard interacting w/young Tony except in the NARF. Still, I like to think that it's a snarky cover story, fabricated static to jokily cover his real I-can't-believe-you're-such-a-boy-scout disbelief at Steve's purity of heart. An impossible bar to set, an impossible standard to try and live up to, and impossible ideal to stand beside.
CAPTAIN AMERICA + ?
In my second screening, someone in the audience actually voiced a, "Whhhaaaa?" when Steve kissed Sharon. Heh. I'm totally okay w/Steven putting the moves on his friend's niece, but chemistry-wise and time-wise, it all seemed a bit fast. All that we know of their close interaction that hints at real attraction happens in the events we see in this film. The broproval from Falcon and Bucky made it worth buying into, tho. And Sharon certainly proves herself "worthy" if I might be so judgy, in martial skills, tactics, duty, and loyalty.
I kinda felt at least as much, if not more, real chemistry between Steve and Wanda. Thing is, Steve thinks of her as a "teenager" while I in the audience think of her as an adult and legit peer of the rest of the team. And, of course, the chemistry between Vizh and Wanda is dialed up quite a bit higher, and, I'm into pursuing that.
It's interesting that in the MCU they are somehow energetically/origin-ally connected, via the an Infinity Gem. What if that's manipulating them into feeling an attraction? Parts of a whole seeking reunification? Having an intelligence and personality connected to a gem will certainly be an interesting facet of Gauntlet control. Will Vizh (or Vizh and Wanda in a FIFTH ELEMENTal combo) sub for Adam Warlock and the Soul Gem?
Perhaps the Steve-Wanda appeal is something for the long game. If the MCU goes long enough, Cap and the Witch may yet be a thing. Or maybe we'll get a glimpse of a reality in which that's so.
SPIDER-MAN's (aka UNDEROO’s) NOT-A-ONESIE!
Spidey's eyes! One aspect of his abilities involves heightened senses in general (which I'd wager add up to his net "Spider-sense"), so having eyepieces that iris up and down to reflect his expression and focus—in a suit augmented w/Stark-tech—makes complete sense and is pretty much a stroke of cinematic storytelling genius, trumping even comic book and animated storytelling, which of course takes artistic license when reflecting Pete's expression/emotions in the features of his mask, but doesn't have an in-universe justification for it. Genius. =)
The Spidey-signal was a bit of a let-down for me. True the Peter-May dialogue was fun (getting punched by Steve, getting a few shots in, getting taken down by a big big guy), and signing off w/Spidey was a good way to tease/push Spider-Man's return, but that little projection as a post-credits reveal? Hohum. Maybe I missed a detail? If it was obviously an Avengers app-communicator, or maybe an "Avengers Assemble" call, or an alert that he's needed somewhere, or a message from Tony (or Cap?), well, that would've been something.
Peter's driven to mess w/his new webshooter (presumably part of the Stark 100-point upgrade) because it's suddenly itchy/irritating. So it would make sense that the tech is signalling him to check it (but of course, he didn't read the manual). An alert or message would've been a strong follow-thru.
But y'know, if THAT's what I'm complaining about, goes to show how frickin great the rest of the movie is, right? And Spider-Man is definitely one of the best realized elements of the film.
BLACK WIDOW / WINTER SOLDIER HISTORY?
Did anyone catch what Natasha gasps when re-activated Winter Soldier has her by the throat? It's something like, "Recognize me!" Or "Why don't you recognize me?" How much face time did they ever share in WINTER SOLDIER? I haven't seen it since it was out, but don't remember any, honestly. So, my mind goes to her as-yet-unrevealed origin—some incarnation of the Red Room, which is where the counter-agents of AGENT CARTER were trained and indoctrinated, ostensibly for the Russian government, but actually/also, for Hydra. Some advanced form of this technique/program was no doubt used to bring Bucky under control as the Winter Soldier. I think that Black Widow must have worked on a mission with him, maybe even trained with him, to learn strategies for facing a powered opponent. Maybe this history/mystery could be the basis of a Widow-Soldier team-up film?
But, if they DO have some history together, why DOESN'T Bucky acknowledge it? Perhaps his mental "files" have been updated to consider her an enemy of the state/Hydra? Hrm… Could Bucky have been in contact w/Natasha while in hiding? Between the events of WINTER SOLDIER and CIVIL WAR? Or maybe Natasha encountered the Soldier as an enemy or (friendly?) competitor on a mission for her Russian superiors?
Frack. I've gotta watch WINTER SOLDIER again. I vaguely remember Natasha recognizing the code name "Winter Soldier" somewhere in the course of the film, and so, having some intel/knowledge of the program. But whatever she volunteers about it must not have been specific to personal experience with him, or knowing that it was Bucky Barnes, right?
FUN BITS AND PIECES…
The Wanda-Cap fastball special! Very nice! Also, Wanda containing and funneling the poison gas used by Crossbones's goons out of the disease control labs? Wanda's got some crazy control of her abilities. Impressive. What kind of person could train her or train with her?
Love the rival Cap partners. Too bad we don't have a Rick Jones in the MCU to add to the mix. In the low profile getaway car…
BUCKY: Can you move your seat up?On the floor in the airport concourse after Redwing takes Spidey for a ride…
BUCKY: You couldn't have done that sooner?So many great voices added to the mixx… T'Challa, Peter Parker, Scott Lang… He's just happy to be there, y'know? =)
SAM: I hate you.
On seeing Wanda in the airport garage…
SCOTT: I know you. You're great! Captain America! I'm shaking your hand for too long!On returning to normal size after Giant-Manning it up…
SCOTT: Does anyone have any…orange slices?Taking a jab at Tony in his cell on the Raft…
SCOTT: Hank Pym always said, never trust a Stark.Stan Lee—Fed Excelsior! Lee’s CIVIL WAR cameo is a great little Tony Stark sting and a winning spirits-lifter for Rhodey =)
TONY: Who are you?
SCOTT: Aw, c'mon, man.
RHODEY: Table for one… Tony Stank!Also, THE RAFT. The frickin RAFT, man! That is gotta be the basis for AVENGERS 5 or 6 or so, right? I was soooo hoping that we'd see more cells, more prisoners. Are these Avengers the only inmates so far? Who is managing the Raft? Doesn't seem like SHIELD. Secretary of State Ross has access and authority, so, American? Or part of the UN Joint whatzit?
Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross as Secretary of State. Nice detail, moving familiar characters/supporting cast around in the background of our heroes' adventures.
THINGS THAT MAKE ME GO HMMM…
GREAT POWER (tm?)
Does Sony own the use of "With great power comes great responsibility" in movies? Slightly painful watching Peter NOT say that. Although what he DOES say is just what Tony wants, maybe needs to hear when recruiting a new Avenger. When recruiting someone who might be helping to fill a void left by the absence of Captain America, the heart of the Avengers.
WHO'S CHARLIE SPENCER?
Who is Charlie Spencer? In CIVIL WAR, he's the son of the state department worker who confronts Tony about the aftermath of Sokovia. The face that gets put to the remorse that Tony feels for what happened in the wake of Ultron's creation. Wondering if the name has significance in the Marvel Comics universe, or perhaps in the real world.
A SIGNIFICANT DATE?
Is there a Marvel Comics or MCU in-universe significance to either of these dates? 12786 is the passcode to the Winter Soldier complex in Siberia.
WHAT ABOUT THAT BIOWEAPON?
What was the "bioweapon" that Crossbones stole? Who was the buyer?
Allright, I’m calling it. End ramble.
THIS one, at least. =)
So—Until the Watcher joins Hair Club for Men…
Make mine Marvel!
Keep on keepin’ on~