The way I see it, CA: Civil War (a movie I thoroughly enjoyed both times I saw it at the theater) is that it is a movie that by its very nature is damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t. The reason I say that is for starters look at its length. Its scope. Its large cast. Many would say it’s too much, mainly because they allow themselves to be overwhelmed by one of the aspects, either separately or collectively. Let’s look at the length. A movie of this scope with this many moving parts would be maligned for being too [insert complaint] if it were 20 minutes shorter. Let’s look at the cast. A movie with war in the title and an internal war at its core is going to need two large factions of folks going at it. That leaves the scope and scale of a movie of this kind. Well, of course a movie smack in the middle of a shared universe narrative is going to require large set pieces and a HUGE (and I mean YUGE!) epic battle between the warring factions. Yet, because of that large scale battle, some were left with the impression that “there’s very little story” or not enough quiet, character moments, which I contend are simply false.
Let’s look at the story itself. Due to previous events that were arguably irresponsible and shortsighted, there’s some backlash, individually and collectively. Steve’s got his issues. Tony’s got his. Bucky’s are obvious. Wanda and Natasha too. Enter T’Challa and there’s a mini-story there with all its ramifications. Same with Peter. Now, let’s introduce some way-back past events that impact Steve, Tony and Bucky dealing with the murder of Tony’s parents at Bucky’s hands – due to sleeper-agent indoctrination. That’s no big deal though. It’s not a big moment for the characters, it doesn’t touch or elevate the emotional core of this conflict and this deepening rift between 2 major players, 2 friends. Surely it doesn’t inspire an emotional climax in said story. [sarcasm]
For some reason, amid all the action and fighting – cuz, y’know, it’s in the action-adventure genre – these deeper moments got missed or overlooked by the movie’s harshest critics.
Had the makers of the movie come lightly on any of those aspects, what would we be saying? We’d be a bit underwhelmed, amirite? I think I’d probably rather be overwhelmed by a movie than underwhelmed. At some point I can come to embrace whatever there’s too much of, but on the flip of that, I can’t compensate for what’s missing.