*WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS FOR ‘CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.*
Since ‘Iron Man’ was released in 2008, and especially since ‘The Avengers’ was released in 2012, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated screens of cinemas everywhere. Personally, it has never been something that has interested me, or that I’ve particularly understood. I have never been a comic book, or superhero, or sci-fi fantasy fan. The MCU is a phenomenon that’s inescapable, and my interest in keeping abreast with the zeitgeist means I had a tacked together, disjointed understanding of what this universe was, and a minor resentment about the fact that it seemed to take up so much screen time at the cinema that opportunities for showings of anything else appeared to dwindle year on year. This relationship with the MCU, one of confusion and annoyance, is what I brought with me to ‘Captain America: Civil War’ on the day of its release.
You might have some questions. Why would I, a girl who has never seen a Marvel movie and who lacked a fundamental understanding of it, go to see this film? The answer is simple – I got a free ticket, I had nothing better to do, and I love going to the cinema. I requested a debriefing on the last 8 years of this franchise, asking the most important questions.
‘Will Mark Ruffalo be in this one?’ ‘No, he’s retired.’ (Disappointing from the off).
‘Will Paul Rudd be in this one?’ ‘Yes.’ (A recovery).
‘What is Ultron and do I need to know?’ ‘Honestly Ashley, it’s too late for you.’ (Harsh, but fair).
With my questions barely answered, and my spirits lifted by the fact that we got free Fudge bars from the chip shop, I went into the film. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ sees the Avengers turn against one another when they are split over the decision of world governments to regulate superhero intervention, after a lot of death and destruction – the moral, political themes admittedly enticed me and I was as excited as I was worried about having to sit through the whole thing. I feel obliged to point out that, aside from the time a woman decide to narrate ‘The Inbetweeners 2’ aloud to the entire audience, this was the noisiest cinema screen I’ve ever been in. People were talking liberally and loudly, but if I am honest I welcomed it, as it meant I could ask questions like ‘who is that?’ and ‘is his power just arrows?’ whenever I needed to. By the end of the film, I had said ‘what the fuck?’ in a tone that was much more than a whisper more than once, becoming what I hate. It was fun. The audience also laughed frequently, which is kind of my main criticism of this film – it was not funny, at least not in any of the ways it tried to be. Sometimes the audience laughed and my friends and I glanced at each other in confusion and as this went on, despair, not understanding what the joke even was. It is the epitome of teenage boy humour. It is two-characters-kiss-cut-to-smug-friends humour. It is your-aunt-is-hot humour. I didn’t get it.
However, there were some big laughs from moments that were not meant to be. Martin Freeman’s acting, for one, though that also made me angry. A part in the very beginning which features Tony Stark’s younger self, which is a CGI alteration of Robert Downey Jr.. In my perpetual ignorance, I believed that the Marvel team simply wanted Robert to look you know, less like he’s 50 years old, and whispered to my friend next to me ‘that is SO obviously fake, OMG!’ – this really was just a laugh borne from my own idiocy. The following tweet encapsulates my top two moments.
The weird red guy, I was later told, is named Vision and is the apparently most powerful of ALL THE AVENGERS. This was news to me as all he seemed to do in the film was stand and be creepy. The fact that Ant-Man became a giant man was incredible and summarises the delightfully fun stupidity that I really enjoyed about the film – I can’t deny that it entertained me, and that I was not bored. My favourite part was the fact that the Dean from the once excellent, then shit, then cancelled, then revived and still shit ‘Community’ was in it. Not just Jim Rash, the actor who plays the Dean. The character of the Dean, who seemed to have made the natural career transition from Greendale Community College to MIT. It was especially glorious because I didn’t put together the Russo brother connection until later, and it was as if he had just surfaced at random.
My favourite character was the new kid on the block, Black Panther. He was mostly my favourite because he is a King, a character element I find fascinating. A superhero king with claws, from a dynasty of warrior kings! My other favourites were the Falcon, for generally being a stand up guy, and Ant-Man, for being an idiot who like me, didn’t really seem to know what he was doing in this civil war. My least favourites were Vision, for creepiness related reasons, and Bucky, for bad hair related reasons. The character of Bucky I found entirely confusing, because without his presumably very tragic backstory, he seemed to have the world’s worst attitude and I got very frustrated with Captain America for even bothering with him. I also was not a fan of the villain, Helmut Zemo, who was not menacing in the slightest. I was like, dude, they’re gonna get you, I’m sorry but it’s going to happen. I think this is actually a legitimate criticism rather than one founded in own lack of understanding of the MCU – as a character he was underdeveloped and even at the end I wasn’t precisely sure what his motives for being evil and hateful were, which didn’t exactly work to the film’s advantage.
Mostly, I liked ‘Captain America: Civil War’. It was perfectly enjoyable from the point of view of someone who hadn’t experienced the world of these characters before, and I basically grasped what was going on. Most of my suspicions about what the MCU consisted of were confirmed – the cringey jokes and a lot of kicking and being strong. I liked that the film tried to explore the ethical role and duties of a superhero but truly, I liked the kicking and being strong more. I understand what people get from Marvel films and why it is they like them, even if I didn’t necessarily get the same things, and I would probably see more Marvel films in the future. Not Dr Strange though, that looks awful, and I will need to be told what an infinity stone is.
By Ashley Woodvine
Ashley is a 17 year old from Norwich. She loves Belle and Sebastian, Taylor Swift, dancing badly and porridge, mostly. Her favourite films include Frances Ha, The Royal Tenenbaums and Beasts of the Southern Wild. She has a very deep affinity with that bit in Inside Llewyn Davis where he stares at toilet wall graffiti that says ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’. Tends to tweet about her life in an over-dramatic way@heartswellss.