Spider-Man and the 10 Other Things I Most Loved About Captain America: Civil War (Spoilers)

  

Spider-Man
Face it, Sony Picture’s, who previously owned the exclusive film rights to Spider-Man, were not doing the character justice. They made a couple of fun films with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maquire but number 3 wasn’t great and, good as Andrew Garfield was, his web slinger films were both a little underwhelming. The deal Sony has now made to share the character and put him back amongst friends has done the character a service. 

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Crucially Spidey is a kid again. Maquire and Garfield were both touching thirty when they finished up but Tom Holland is actually a teenager which is key to the character. It’s how we were introduced to him in the comics but until now we’ve not properly seen this on screen.

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Holland’s two key moments in Civil War, one in the famous red and blue costume and one not, are both great. The scene in his flat was a perfect and suitably economical reintroduction to the character. I love that he was interrupted when he started to explain how he got his powers, because we really didn’t need that laid out again, but I also loved that they let him talk when he needed to. Basically there was no shutting him up during the big battle. Here Marvel showed that they know what their audience needs as well as knowing what they don’t. 

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The witty banter during the airport fight properly gave us the Spider-Man we know from the page. The chatter wasn’t smug either, as it was with in the other films. It was cocky sure, but it just was a smart adolescent asking questions about the fascinating things he was seeing. I also loved the fact that his voice often echoed that of the audience, commenting on The Winter Soldier’s metal arm and pointing out that Cap’s shield does not obey the laws of physics at all.

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We got a nice new version of the Spider-Mantra as well: ‘When you can do the things I can do and don’t, then when the bad things happen its your fault.’ In other words – With great power comes great responsibility. 

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Ant-Man
Spider-Man wasn’t the only bug boy excited about getting an invitation to the rumble and Paul Rudd’s return as Ant-Man was also brilliant. You remember that moment in The Force Awakens where Finn got a little over excited because he got the upper hand on Captain Phasma? You remember how uncontrollably thrilled he was to be playing (and winning) in a bigger game against a famously formidable for? Well that is basically Scott Lang’s entire characterisation in this film. His clumsy, awed attempts to fit in with his half of The Avengers is very endearing and, even with his inexperience, he has some of the biggest moments in the smack down. 

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His ability to grow as well as shrink is used all the time in the comics and it works well with the parameters of his powers as they are set up in these films. We already know what happens when he keeps pressing the get smaller button, we saw that in his movie last year, what happens if he keeps pressing the other one though?

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The Reaction to the Kiss 
This is probably Marvel’s most sullen film so far but it still has the amusing little character beats the studio is so good at. The rivalry between Sam and Bucky is especially funny here. They’re not openly vying to be Steve Rogers best friend but that is the subtext and it’s a nice touch. Their best moment is one of unity though when they both just nod at Steve following his kiss with Sharon Carter. 

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Vision’s Smart Casual Dress Code
I get that Vision is trying to fit in and relate to the human beings around him but I’m not sure the sweater and pants were strictly necessary. Presumably they are mentally manifested as well because they phase through the wall with him. Clearly he was downloading information from the Internet in an attempt to gain knowledge and found something to pique his interest on the Marks & Spencer website. It reminded me of when Kryton used to dress up in Red Dwarf.

  
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The Fate of the Other Super Soldiers
I have to confess that my heart sank a little when they said there were six other Winter Soldiers. It looked as though we were heading for a predictable finale where Steve and Tony would get past their differences and work together to fight a shared enemy. ‘How very formulaic’ I thought. Nope, not this movie. They were totally playing with my expectations and I like it.


Peggy Died
I wasn’t happy to see Peggy Carter’s funeral; I’ve grown very fond of the lady across three movies, a one shot and two TV series. It was a fitting end for one of Marvel’s greatest heroes though. I’m glad to know she lived a long life and that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. 

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It is just me or is it a little weird that Cap’s getting it on with her niece?

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No One Else Died
Actually lots of people died. That’s what drives the plot. Crossbones died – yay! Howard and Maria Stark died – boo! King T’Chaka died – ooh! None of the Avengers croaked though and that is a very good thing. It would have been an obvious way to raise the stakes but it wouldn’t have really meant anything. Killing Captain America or Iron Man would have been like killing Superman, we wouldn’t have believed it for a second. (Sorry, did I not mention they’d be spoilers for that film too?) Disabling Rhodey is something that might stick though. Having him still there, suffering, is a reminder of the cost of what went down, more than if he’d perished. Certainly none of them seem to be struggling with the loss of Agent Coulson anymore. Black Widow even cracked a joke about it in Age of Ultron when she teased Hawkeye saying that his death would focus the team. (I am assuming they all still think he’s dead although he is moving around in plain sight all the time. Maybe they just don’t care – that’s kind of my point.) 

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Rhodes was the military man too, he’s been at this longer than everyone and he was doing it by the book. He wasn’t involved in New York, or Washington, or Sokovia, or Lagos yet he is the one that lost the most. It’s a bad beat.

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The Ensemble
Let’s not forget that ensemble films are very hard to get right. The success of the two Avengers movies and now this Captain America film have made it look easy but many other films have collapsed under the weight of their casts. This has been a particular problem with superhero pictures. Batman and Robin was poor for many reasons but the fact that it was Batman and Robin and Batgirl and Poison Ivy and Mr Freeze and Bane didn’t help. The aforementioned Tobey Maquire Spider-Man series was similarly spoilt by too many crooks with Venom, Sandman and The New Goblin. 

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Marvel Studios keep nailing it though. Some of the heroes get less screen time than others but none of them feel superfluous. It all bodes well for the next two Avengers films, which by my reckoning will have a principle cast of around twenty five. (Okay, I’ll list them: Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Star Lord, Rocket, Gamora, Groot, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Sharon Carter, Thanos, Maria Hill, Aunt May and hopefully Pepper Potts.)

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It’s Not Black v White  
The comic book that Civil War is based on is a lot clearer in terms of right and wrong; Captain America is standing up for freedom and Tony Stark is being an ass. The lines are not drawn as clearly in the movie though and it is better for it. Even Zemo is driven by more than megalomania. The marketing for the film seems to be about choosing a side but I can’t; the arguments are too sophisticated. I’m on Team Black Widow.

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It’s Not Batman v Superman
I don’t wish to be unkind but this has to be addressed. Frankly after seeing this, Warner Brothers should cease work on their own shared super universe immediately. They gave it their best shot but it is embarrassing how far wide of the competition they have fallen. In Batman v Superman there was minimal character development, no proper explanation of anyone’s motivations, plot contrivances, an underdeveloped antagonist, a lazily written big bad and no understanding of why the characters they were depicting were so popular in the first place. Warners were leading the superhero pack for a while, the Dark Knight trilogy was brilliant, but they’ve lost it. They need to admit defeat, give in and stick to making Harry Potter spin offs.

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That was not how you make a film about superheroes in conflict facing up to the devastation they have caused while still struggling with the loss of their parents. This is how you make a film about superheroes in conflict facing up to the devastation they have caused while still struggling with the loss of their parents. 

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And Finally, I love this Image:

  

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6 thoughts on “Spider-Man and the 10 Other Things I Most Loved About Captain America: Civil War (Spoilers)

  1. I’m just going to go down your list, because you hit a lot of things I loved about the film.
    I’m 100% in agreement with you on Spider-man. I loved the first two Sam Raimi films, but the reboot was just dull and uninteresting. Having an actual teenager in Tom Holland play Parker makes a huge difference. I like your point about his commentary during the battle being reminiscent of the comics, which is something that hadn’t actually occurred to me but now that you mention it is probably one of the reasons I liked this depiction of the character so much. Especially the comment about Cap’s shield. (Though as funny as it was, I thought the Empire Strikes Back banter wasn’t written quite properly to be in character. Peter Parker is a geek, and would be much more familiar with Star Wars and its terminology. But that’s just me nitpicking.)
    Paul Rudd/Ant-man was so good! They showed the clip of him shaking hands too long with Cap at the D23 Expo last year, and he just provides the perfect counterpoint to the rest of the Avengers. They’re all so cool, and he’s just such a dork and overwhelmed. I’m seriously pissed, however, that Lego spoiled the giant Ant-man bit with one of their sets (which I saw an ad for in the Lego catalog). I wish I could have watched the action sequence not knowing that was coming.
    I loved the Sam/Bucky dynamic so much! They’re both kind of competing for Steve’s attention, and to be the #1 best friend, but they’re too cool to be too obvious about it. The bit with Bucky wanting Sam to move his seat forward, or the pair of them fighting Spider-man only to end with Sam saying “I hate you.” But the shared head nod after Steve kissed Sharon was just perfect. I’m definitely going to pay closer attention to those two the next time I see it. Though my favorite Sam line might have been his comment about how they labeled his suit as a bird costume.
    I read somewhere that Vision’s costume was meant to be a callback to Edwin Jarvis’s suit in Agent Carter, though I can’t remember where I saw that article. I like the theory, though, that Vision would be interested in where he came from and would have discovered the real life inspiration for the name Jarvis, and might have tried to emulate him.
    I was right with you on the ending I expected once we learned there were more supersoldiers, and was pleasantly surprised that it was subverted (even if I have a couple issues with the ending we got).
    Peggy’s death was spoiled for me early on, but that didn’t make it less emotional, especially considering the low likelihood that Agent Carter will be renewed for a third season. I like that they didn’t rush through her death in the story, but took the time to honor the character as well as let her death have an effect on Steve. As for Steve getting it on with Sharon, since he never actually got to get it on with Peggy it doesn’t bother me as much as it otherwise might.
    There was a brief moment near the end when I thought Tony might kill Steve, potentially by accident. We knew that Tony wouldn’t die because RDJ is in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but I thought they might kill off Steve and let Bucky take over like they did in the comments, especially after he picked up the shield. Of course, we would all assume he would be resurrected in Infinity War, so it probably wouldn’t have as big an impact as it otherwise might have had. As for Rhodey, I’ll be curious how much his injury carries over to future films. My friend and I had a big debate over how injured he actually was at the ending. They mentioned paralysis as a possibility, but I don’t think it was ever confirmed, so we wondered whether the mechanisms on his legs were merely helping him in his rehab or allowing him to walk when he otherwise couldn’t. And does he need to use his legs at all to be War Machine? I assume we won’t see him again until Infinity War. And speaking of Coulson, I keep holding out hope that one day he’ll reappear on the big screen, even if just for one scene, if only to settle the debate over whether Agents of SHEILD is a part of the MCU or not.
    I thought one of the film’s biggest strengths was the way it balanced so many characters, which is a difficult thing to pull off. Even the characters who just showed up for the big battle didn’t feel forced into the story, having legitimate reasons to be there and feeling like they contributed to the story/sequence. That being said, I’m looking forward to the next handful of films which won’t have quite so many characters. I wouldn’t want every MCU film to be like this.
    I feel like the movie was still #TeamCap, but it definitely presented both sides of the debate as having logic behind them, and both heroes as having flaws in their views. I liked how their (for lack of a better word) “political” viewpoints were a reflection of their experiences and personalities, rather than simply arbitrarily chosen in order to get them to fight. It felt natural for these two to come down on opposite sides of the debate, especially after Sokovia, and I thought that the way the allegiances of everyone else also shaked out naturally. I think Black Widow is probably the best choice, because the true course of action would have to be somewhere in the middle. The Avengers certainly need to be accountable to the public for their actions, but they can’t be merely the tools of a politically motivated body.
    I still haven’t seen BvS, and I don’t know when I’ll ever get around to it. I certainly don’t have any eagerness to see it, though I do have some curiosity. I’m not a big fan of the Dark Knight trilogy, despite Heath Ledger’s performance, so I’m not enthused for WB’s desire to piggyback on that style of superhero story. I like Marvel’s tone and style, which can be dark and dramatic but which isn’t such a violent slog the way Nolan’s trilogy and Man of Steel were. It mostly comes down to a matter of taste, of course. But from everything I’ve read about BvS, it’s mostly a disaster of filmmaking regardless of your opinion of the style, which is just pathetic. They were in such a hurry to capitalize on the Super Hero movement, and to get into the shared universe business, that they decided it didn’t matter if they put any effort into the storytelling, thinking that the public would get onboard just to see the pair fight on the big screen. The laziness is insulting. (Which is a large part of why I’ve avoided it.)
    A great, iconic image, which feels ripped from the comic book pages.
    (As a last note, allow me to apologize for not being a more engaged blogger. You write such excellent articles, and I’m ashamed to say that I don’t read your blog, or anyone else’s, nearly as often as I should. A lot of the time I can’t even get the energy to work on my own blog, much less keep up with the community, and I know that means missing out on some great stuff and letting people down. But don’t that keep you from continuing the great job you do. You’re one of my favorite bloggers, and I love hearing what you have to say.)

    1. Please please do not apologise for not engaging with my blog. I don’t read yours as much as I’d like either, I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading your SHIELD posts every week because we are trailing behind you here in the UK. Besides, your response to this post is as long as a lot of the things I post myself all by itself. I do always look up you blog when there’s a Disney or Marvel film out.

      I think Rhodey is probably done. He isn’t a big enough a character for them to invest in his journey back to health but he may be referred to. Tony’s best tech doesn’t seem to have given him the ability to walk again so I don’t think he’ll be suiting up again.

      I’ve not heard the suggestion that Agents of SHIELD is not cannon. It tied into Ultron so I think it must be. It’ll be interesting to see how it links to this.

      The Vision/Jarvis link seems a bit of a stretch.

      I’d heard about Lego spoiling on of the surprises but I’d not heard which one. I found out about Pepper putting on the Iron Man suit the same was so I tend to avoid toy shops for the weeks leading up to MCU releases.

      I kind of agree with you about the jarring nature of Spider-Man’s Empire Strikes Back comments. If he knew the film at all he’d know it better.

      You’re right about Sam’s bird costume costume bit too. I’d forgotten about that.

      1. Saw your comments on LovePirate’s blog, good stuff.

        Best

        Spiderman

        Ever.

        (And I liked the Toby McGuire films and the others)

        Also love that last image: Cap and Iron Man, perfect visualization of the whole family conflict, and the whole political conflict.

        Vision is gorgeous (female fan here in love with Paul Bettany since the dawn of time as we know it) but he needs to just… frikkin… wear…the…cape.

        Ant Man is fabulous.

        Black Panther is fabulously fabulous. I note that all Marvel characters have distinctive styles of movement. BP moved like a big cat. Waiting for Tony Stank to call him Bagheera …

        “that old film” OK snarky Spidey kid, I feel really ooooooold now. Perhaps he should have been more knowledgeable… or maybe the writers were trying to not reference Empire too loudly.

        I also thought of King Kong in the giAnt Man scene.

        Did not see BS (B vs S), the trailers just looked dark dank grim gritty and confused. And so the reviews said. Bah. You’re right, they need to give up and hand these classic characters to someone who has a clue. Much much much prefer Marvel’s style: serious where it counts, but with a sense of wonder (Stan Leeeeee!) and thrill.

        Love the bit about “move your seat forward” … “no”…

        I want Falcon’s costume.

        Oh do have Coulson show up. I want to see Thor’s reaction the most.

        Both these blogs are excellent, I also don’t get to blab about the films I love much with the people who live in my area. Carry on and blog when you can.

        Loving LovePirate’s AoS reviews!

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