If the first two Captain America films are any indication, I’ve learned not to watch them with any expectations good or bad. Like most of the Marvel Phase One films, I found First Avenger to be a yawn and filler for the payoff that was the first Avengers movie. Winter Soldier blindsided me and years later I’m still trying to process how amazing that film is.
As much as I love Winter Soldier (it along with Avengers and Age of Ultron rank as my favorite Marvel flicks), and even though I knew I would finally get the Black Panther in this film, I still watched with no expectation.
Synopsis: Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.
The verdict: By no mean is it the worst Marvel film by any stretch. It was brilliant in some parts and a mess in others. Better than First Avenger but a major letdown from Winter Soldier. I kept checking my watch so many times, one would’ve thought my name was William Tockman.
One of Marvel/Disney’s biggest cinematic sins is that they go to the proverbial well to often for the same setup that may have been a hit in a previous chapter. For example: one of the most popular scenes in season one of Daredevil is the hallway scene that’s a throwback to Oldboy. So they recreate the same scenario in the stairwell scene in season 2. Hulk pummeling Loki senselessly during the first Avengers film was reiterated with the gamma radiated behemoth doing the same to Ultron in the sequel. The opening of Civil War was a throwback to the first 10 minutes of Winter Soldier. It’s a reflection of Marvel resting on their laurels and not a good look.
Given that Ross was responsible for the destruction of Harlem in The Incredible Hulk, and Stark was the big bad of Age of Ultron, one can imagine my disgust at the blatant hypocrisy when neither get called out when they began pointing fingers and demanding laws be passed.
Also the constant conflation of legality and morality warranted multiple side-eyes from this queer nerd of color.
The other issue with this film is that it doesn’t remember its own continuity. Ross mentions that the Avengers have been running around without answering to anyone when in fact the Avengers Initiative was a product of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and by extension Hydra) and ultimately answered to the World Security Council.
Speaking of continuity issues, Alfre Woodard makes a cameo and it looks like it may not be connected to Luke Cage. I’d reveal more, but spoilers.
The final fight was anti climactic and while the directors, the Brothers Russo, were trying to break type, applaud them for the effort, the setup and the execution was a bit of letdown.
So was the film a complete bust? Actually no. In fact, the film has a few bonuses that I was skeptical of, among them, Spider-Man.
Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland have amazing chemistry and their scenes were comedy gold. For someone who does not want to see another Spidey flick, their scenes make a compelling argument that I might reconsider when the film comes to DVD.
Holland proves to be capable of portraying the dual personas of Peter Parker and Spidey superbly.
The fact that the 19 year old Holland is easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt either.
Suddenly my spider sense is tingling.
But the real MVP of this film is without question Chadwick Boseman who portrays Wakandan Warrior King T’Challa known by his subjects as the Black Panther. Boseman delivered a most commanding presence in his performance. The Dora Milaje did not disappoint either.
Much like Spidey we get a brief origin story with BP in the film to tease for the upcoming solo films. And to think it’ll be a decade after the MCU debut before we finally get a nonwhite superhero on the big screen.
And to answer the $64 million question: why would Black Panther side with Iron Man.
The setup was actually very well thought out and plausible. T’Challa’s agenda (which was a justified one) coincided with Stark’s.
The Black Panther wasn’t so much Team Iron Man as he was Team I’m Gonna F*** Bucky Up When I Catch Him On The Streets And Lay Claws On Him.
The conclusion of the Civil War established something else noteworthy, T’Challa has replaced Rogers as the MCU’s moral compass in a very profound way. I’d explain more but you know….
As in B for Black Panther, the film’s saving grace. I’ll say this much, it’s light years better than the comic miniseries. Not saying much but then again, the less said about bigoted hack Mark Millar, the better.
Your mileage may vary.