Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” arrives at a time when superheroes are often fighting each other, rather than the villainous archetypes to which viewers have become accustomed. The film succeeds in many respects, but, unfortunately, makes the same mistakes that “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” made just over a month ago. Though it has great moments and certainly brings its characters to life, the movie still fails under its own seriousness and lack of cohesiveness.

It is a difficult task to weave together multiple storylines and make something that is cohesive, and “Civil War” does a satisfactory job. The central conflict between Captain America and Iron Man—the two sides of vigilantism—is explored to a healthy degree, and much of the character development is solid. There is true emotional heft to the film, which is a nice surprise in comparison with most films in the Marvel Universe. Though it’s technically a third Captain America movie, the film serves more as a character study of Iron Man. He supplies many of the emotional beats of the narrative and signifies that our heroes are not perfect. Even Captain America—the film’s moral compass—makes a number of morally questionable choices in the film.

Characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man are also introduced artfully, and they have great moments in the film, but they ultimately add nothing to the plot. It’s more of the same world-building that turned off many viewers in “Batman v Superman,” but viewers don’t care this time around because they finally get to see Spider-Man in a Marvel movie. While his appearance is certainly exciting, there’s no real reason for him to be there. He helps out at the ultimate battle at an airport in Germany (which in itself is an exquisitely strange setting to have the grand fight between two teams of heroes) and is promptly shipped back to Queens.

Much of the criticism towards “Batman v Superman” attacked its dark, bleak tone, but Civil War just feels grey. The film is uneven: the first half is quite dull and boring, and its action sequences feel choppy and rushed, but it’s all in search of a decidedly more serious tone. It all changes when Spider-Man is introduced and, with a bout of suddenly quirky humor, it suddenly feels as if Joss Whedon came in to direct most of the second half. It’s very fun, but then after the main battle is over, the film returns to some of the more serious tone it tried to establish previously, and it does not go off so well. I mean, how serious can you take a movie that has a giant Ant-Man destroying property at an airport?

The film does not rectify any of the recurring problems that the Marvel Universe has, especially in regards to featuring a sophisticated and memorable villain. Though there is no straightforward “villain” in a movie that pits two superheroes against each other, many of the strings are pulled by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), who plays the villain. His motivations to do so are more complex, but, like Lex Luthor in “Batman v Superman,” it leads to a single line in the film and has no emotional payoff.

Lastly, in this thirteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one titled “Civil War,” nothing non really happens. One or two characters are injured and some relationships are fractured, but we know that our beloved characters are going to survive and eventually work out the differences they have with each other. Unfortunately, it makes things less exciting. Even if the emotional heft is great, there are no physical consequences to any of it. In the end, we know we’ll be seeing all of our heroes together again in the next Avengers movie.



An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

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