“Captain America: Civil War” brings to life our current day mythology of larger-than-life players from comics, movies and video games. If you grew up in a comic book world, it’s like watching family home videos of your childhood daydreams on the big screen in 3D. Each superhero has a human alter ego whose traits and flaws we can easily identify with. In this particular story, they also wrestle with a dilemma common to us humans – a family feud. Our band of champions is at odds over the annoying puzzle of how to go about saving the world: do they work hand in hand with international governments or go rogue?
Blockbuster movies like this are a huge endeavor and when done well reflect great ingenuity, resourcefulness, and leadership on the part of the filmmakers. The budget for this film was around $250 million – the roll of credits looks like an employee database from a Fortune 500 company. Of course there are the requisite epic battle scenes with vast collateral damage to the surrounding population and environment. However, this film actually addresses the problem of collateral damage.
Present at my screening was a panel of the directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The Russo’s brought a refreshing sense of humor to this blockbuster, having come from a TV comedy background (“Arrested Development”). They discussed the varied acting styles of the cast and how smoothly they worked together. The camaraderie on set was due, no doubt, to the skill of these directors and of casting director, Sarah Finn. Robert Downey Jr. likes to use spontaneity in a scene. Chris Evans rarely veers from his script. Cedric Bozeman, a method actor, stays in character both on and off set. The interplay of their styles informs their characters and relationships. There are many ultimately human and touching scenes: “Vision” and “Wanda” discuss emotions while sitting in the kitchen like two teenagers, “Captain America” and “Iron Man” recognize each other’s stubborn streak, “Ant-Man” laughs at the awkwardness of his tiny size in a pivotal battle scene, “Spider Man” is awed by the superheroes’ power and laughs with glee when he is able to literally tie them down.
The sets by production designer Owen Paterson draw on your deepest emotions. Many of them feature foreboding dark rock and metal, soiled with age, while the metallic sounds in the background evoke bleakness and imprisonment. Is this what our world today suggests? This style is similar to dark Expressionist films from the 1920’s. Did we never recover from seeing idyllic pastures laid waste by the industrial revolution? Bozeman’s “Black Panther” character suggests that a glimmer of hope exists.
The relevance of this movie’s theme is echoed in a political “poster” recently shared on Facebook by my young nephew that reads: “I don’t think America should elect any President in 2016. We need to be single for a few years and find ourselves.” In a perfect dream world, that might be a very smart move. Our country just may be having a “huuuge” family feud.
Released May 6th
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. email@example.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com