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Captain America: Civil War, A Spoiler-Filled Conversation with Lebeau and Daffystardust

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Greetings LeBlog readers! The biggest movie release of the weekend has been the newest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superhero throw down Captain America: Civil War, so Lebeau and I have decided to have a conversation about the film here. A warning right off the bat: There Will Be Spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, go to your local multiplex (this obviously isn’t an art house flick, so you’ll have no trouble finding it) and enjoy a little hero-on-hero combat and then come back here to discuss what we all saw and what it means about the future of the Marvel films.

Spoilers begin after the break, so this is your last chance to avoid them.

Ready?

Daffystardust: Okay, so everyone who is still with us has seen Captain America: Civil War and knows that Galactus landed on Earth halfway through, right? Good thing Ant-Man found the Ultimate Nullifier, huh? I have to say I was pretty surprised when The Beyonder showed up and abducted everybody at the end.

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Allright, so I’m kidding, but seriously the spoilers will start flowing in earnest now.

I’m going to come right out and say that while I really enjoyed huge portions of the movie, it has some real weaknesses that identify it as a second-tier Marvel production in the big picture. The title and basic concept for the story was taken from a big crossover event from the comic books of about a decade ago. I was about twelve years past following the books by that point, and it was just this sort of cross-promotional event that tested my patience and helped to push me out of Marvel’s readership. Lebeau, on the other hand, was still around for this particular storyline when it was presented in the books.

Obviously there were going to be some differences in the movies. How do you feel the film version compared?

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Lebeau: Let the record show that Civil War was one of my least favorite comic book events of all time. I hated it. It was the Man of Steel of comics in that it insisted on being taken seriously as a “real world” take on super heroes. Writer Mark Millar kept giving interviews where he would say how in the real world, people would demand supervision over these incredibly powerful super beings who were capable of leveling cities. And he’s not wrong about that. But after decades of reading stories in which it is an accepted convention that super heroes are just a fact of life and collateral damage is something that gets cleaned up off panel, it was jarring to have a story in which the premise is centered on the idea of super hero registration.

The movie takes only the most basic elements of the source material. The government moves in to assert some control over super heroes. This pits Tony and Cap against one another. In the comic book, the main issue was over secret identities. As a gesture, Tony convinced Spider-man to unmask publically – something which is completely antithetical to the character. For decades, Peter Parker has been defined by his desire to keep his identity secret in order to protect his loved ones. Almost immediately, his decision has repercussions as Aunt May gets shot. That opened up a whole can of worms in which Peter makes a deal with Mephisto- Marvel’s version of Satan himself – in order to save her. But we won’t go too far down that rabbit hole.

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The cinematic universe doesn’t focus on the secret identity concept nearly as much as the comic books do. Iron Man revealed his secret identity at a press conference at the end of his first movie. There’s a museum that tells you everything you could ever want to know about Steve Rogers. And Black Widow testified in congress. So not surprisingly, the movie drops all that stuff. In its place, we have yet another underdeveloped villain manipulating events to get the Avengers to turn on each other. It’s a real shame that all of Marvel’s best villains are from franchises that Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to.

How do I feel the film version compared to the source material? It was a massive improvement in just about every way. If the movie has flaws – and I think we agree it does – a lot of them are from the DNA of the original story. But I’m still impressed that Marvel came up with such an entertaining movie based on such a garbage comic book. I get the sense based on your introduction that I liked Captain America: Civil War more than you did. I’m sure we’ll hash that out as we go. Why do you feel that Civil War is a second-tier Marvel movie? I’m not sure I can get on board with that.

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Daffystardust: This is, or course, in a system in which there are three or four tiers of Marvel movies. There was quite a lot to enjoy about Civil War which make it well worth the price of admission, but I would definitely rank it below the best of the studio such as the first Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and each of the two previous Captain America films. I even prefer Ant-Man and maybe the first Avengers movie. None of the aforementioned films was as disjointed or left me feeling as empty as Civil War did. If you add up the excellent scenes, the laugh lines, the imaginative action sequences, and the amazing special effects, you wouldn’t think it would end up there for me, but Civil War turns out to be less than the sum of its parts.

That’s partly because of the villain situation that you mentioned. Any Marvel reader of any pedigree knows who Baron Zemo is, and while the books’ version of his origin is pretty silly, what we’re left with here is a character who doesn’t resemble Baron Zemo at all. The problem is not just that Marvel owns the rights to so few of their greatest villains, but that they think so little of the ones they do own. Anybody who read the books or watched the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon series knows that Baron Zemo, Baron Strucker, and yes even Ultron can be done much better than they were in the last two Avengers-related films. You’d think Marvel had an embarrassment of riches where it came to villains the way they’re burning through them with what appears like no thought. Zemo did survive, so maybe we’ll get a chance to see him develop into his full-fledged villainy, but the disposal of both Strucker and Crossbones leaves me shaking my head. Why do that when you have a fully-established cinematic universe that is already short of villains?

Based on some of what I’ve read, it seems like plenty of audience members are buying in completely with Zemo’s big reveal late in the film, but I wasn’t sure why it was presented the way it was. It all just seemed like a convenience of the plot. I have lots of questions. Was it really necessary for Zemo to lure Cap, Bucky, and Tony to that facility in the middle of nowhere in order to play that video for them? If Cap didn’t know that it was Bucky who killed Tony’s parents…then what exactly did he know, and how is him knowing that piece of information some sort of betrayal of Tony? It all just seemed like an excuse for one more battle and to position the characters where Marvel wanted them at the end of this part of the story.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t bring myself to care one little rat’s patoot about Bucky as the Winter Soldier. I cared more about him when he was just dead Bucky. That’s largely an issue about how the whole Captain America franchise has been handled, though. We got one scene of Cap feeling bad about Bucky’s death in the films and now we’re supposed to be understanding of Cap’s impulse to defend him at all costs. I’m just not. Screw Bucky. Or maybe keep on having discussions about what has happened. Considering that Black Widow used one of those high tech masks JUST LAST MOVIE, Cap and the rest of the Avengers look pretty stupid not to question what that grainy security camera footage showed them. The conversation leaped past any sort of doubt based on the facts rather quickly.

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All of this succeeded in holding me at an emotional arm’s length during the run time of the movie despite all of the fun super hero action and strong acting going on.

Lebeau: I will agree that Tony jumped on the “Kill Bucky” bandwagon awfully quickly considering that they live in a world where science borders on magic. Not to mention actual magic exists. Considering all the things Tony has seen, the security footage is hardly conclusive evidence that Bucky needs to be shot on sight. But if they had decided to bring Bucky in for questioning, well, we don’t have a movie. So that’s just something you have to get past in order to get to those sweet super-hero throwdowns.

I don’t have the same aversion to Bucky as you do. I get why Cap feels a sense of loyalty to his friend and some obligation to protect him. When Steve Rogers was a 90-pound weakling, strapping Bucky Barnes looked out for him. Under Cap’s watch, his friend was captured and subjected to all kinds of unspeakable acts. I can see why a guy like Cap would feel responsible for that. If you were captured by a rival site and brainwashed into writing click-bait articles, I’d do my best to bring you back into the fold!

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Steve wants to protect Bucky from the world and the world from Bucky. Yes, it was handled differently in the comics. But the comic book treatment wasn’t going to work here. So, I’m cool with Bucky. Not my favorite character, but he’s not detracting from my enjoyment of the movie at all. Mostly, I was just glad to see that dangling plot thread mostly wrapped up. We may not see him again until Chris Evans fails to renegotiate his contract and a new Cap is needed.

As for the bad guy, if he hadn’t been named Zemo would you have felt differently? I don’t have a strong attachment to the character. I have to remind myself which one is which when it comes to Zemo and Strucker. I understand why Marvel might shy away from having mustache-twirling Nazis as the central villains of their blockbuster movies. That kind of thing hinders global box office. I’m just not sure why they bothered using the name if the character was going to be completely different from the one in the comics. Maybe there are long-term plans. I’m not really worried about it. They just needed a character to light the plot’s fuse kind of like Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman. And by comparison, I’ll take Zemo over cracked-out Luthor any day.

Was Zemo’s plan needlessly complicated? Of course it was. What super villain plan isn’t? I found myself questioning why he would tip off Iron Man by calling the hotel and ordering breakfast. But then it was revealed that he needed Iron Man to come help Cap so he could show them the video and get them to fight. Sure, Zemo’s plan has a lot of weaknesses. What if Falcon didn’t give away Cap’s location? What if Tony watched the video and said, “Gosh Cap. We have a lot to talk about when we get home?” There’s about a million other ways things could have played out. Alternatively, Zemo could have just posted his video on YouTube and that might have broken up the Avengers just as effectively.

But that’s not the point. This movie exists for one reason only. To set up the “imaginative action scenes” you referenced earlier. That big brawl at the airport set a high bar for all superhero battles that follow. I’m glad the Russo brothers will be the ones directing Infinity War, because this is exactly what that movie is going to need to deliver on a grand scale. What I find most impressive about Civil War is that it manages to juggle so many characters without any of them getting lost. Everyone feels unique and true to character. They all get at least one moment to shine – even Hawkeye. While the set-up may have been a little forced, the payoff was pretty spectacular.

I was won over. Quibbles aside, Civil War did some difficult things very well. It managed to deliver Black Panther’s origin story so his solo movie won’t have to while reintroducing Spider-man to the Marvel universe and developing the Vision-Scarlet Witch relationship. The world building was occasionally clunky, but I felt it was better handled than what we saw in Age of Ultron or the abysmal Batman V Superman. What’s your take on the attempts at universe expansion in Civil War? As a Spidey fan, did you like the new take?

Daffystardust: I liked the new Spider-Man pretty well, and I’m glad they just skipped over the origin story we’ve already seen twice before, but I did feel the movie creak a little under the weight of everything it was trying to do. One new character in Black Panther was enough, so grabbing Spidey as well felt a little like overkill no matter how well they stuck the landing. I understand why they needed to go ahead and do it, but it still wasn’t ideal. T’Challa’s story seemed a little rushed, but I did like the actor and the character design. I would argue that world building should continue to be one of the very top priorities for Marvel, even as its cast of characters expands. Audiences will start to notice if character introductions become consistently lazy or awkward.

On a less obvious note, I found some of the editing in Civil War to be out of character for the rest of the MCU movies. Things were moving fast and the cuts appeared to get a little sloppy at times. That airport action sequence was masterful, but I did not feel the same way about all of the other fight scenes. The chase scene between Bucky and Black Panther and Cap was not as thrilling as it could have been and the stairwell scene has been done before and better in other action films. Heck, Daredevil did it better in season 2 on Netflix.

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Let me bring up something positive that had my jaw on the floor that I haven’t seen mentioned a lot in other places. The computer-generated “flashback” to Tony and his parents was absolutely stunning and kind of makes me wonder if Downey can’t just keep playing Iron Man ad infinitum, no matter how old he starts to look. Why re-cast the actor who is perfect for a role like this if you can reproduce him so convincingly? Of course the studios will have to pay a handsome price for the right to do that sort of thing once the dust clears. I haven’t seen any details on how the effect was accomplished, but it was the most impressive thing I saw in the whole movie, which was full of impressive stuff.

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The transformation was amazing!

Lebeau: The young RDJ effect was impressive. I assumed it was the same technology used to de-age Michael Douglas in Ant-Man. It’s pretty great that it allows these kinds of flashbacks without having to recast an actor who kind of looks like a young RDJ.

Poor Tony got put through the ringer in this movie. He’s always dealt with daddy issues. But those really came bubbling to the surface here. Of all the Avengers, he has the most blood on his hands. He was a weapons manufacturer before he became a super hero and he’s at least 55% responsible for Ultron. It seems like Sokovia is filled with people who rightly hate him. On top of that, he gets dumped by Pepper Potts which is probably long overdue. But you can see why Tony makes some questionable decisions in Civil War. His life is falling apart!

Daffystardust: Who are we kidding? Pepper Potts broke up with Tony because it was convenient for the filmmakers. We can’t have seen her for the last time unless Gwyneth Paltrow is just that hard to work with. She’s a primary character in three MCU movies. “We broke up” isn’t a good enough explanation by a long shot.

They have definitely given Downey the most interesting character beats to play, and why not when you’ve got an actor of his skill to write for? Cap’s character through-line has also been meaningful and well done, but “earnest strength tested,” while commendable, is not as obviously dramatic to play. That said, Chris Evans has done a pretty good job with it, and I’m interested to see where Cap goes from here. It kind of points out how crowded this movie was when you realize that Peggy Carter passed away and it was one of the less memorable events in the story, even though it clearly helps to inform how Steve has changed in the context of this more complex modern world.

I admit that I was kind of hoping that we’d see his pop culture catch-up book again and find out how much he’d crossed off the list.

We know that the Avengers have Thanos to deal with in their next outing, but I’ll be very interested to see which other villains get introduced into the MCU. My personal favorite would be Kang the Conqueror, but I think his rights belong to 20th Century Fox along with the Fantastic Four. MODOK is straight out crazy, and I’d love to see what they could do with him. The Avengers are going into space soon, so that opens up the Kree and Skrulls, but I’d love to see them come back to earth with a film take on Zemo’s Masters of Evil.

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Lebeau: I won’t speculate beyond Infinity War. That takes us through 2019, right? That’s too far into the future for me to prognosticate. By then, this super hero movie craze may be cooling down. I doubt it, but who knows. I’ll just take them as they come.

I’m fine with Pepper Potts being written out of things for the time being. It was getting tiresome seeing Tony and Thor constantly making excuses for their leading ladies’ absences. Pepper and Tony were an on-again-off-again couple in comics. More often than not, they were off. Pepper even married Tony’s friend Happy Hogan at one point. No not the Hulkster. The character played by director Jon Favreau in the Iron Man solo movies. Remember those? I assume if there is ever an Iron Man 4, we will see those characters again. But if there isn’t, “we broke up” works for me.

I’m glad you brought up Chris Evans. Downey’s portrayal of Tony Stark understandably gets a lot of attention. It’s very showy. But I really appreciate Evans’ understated turns as Cap. You know Captain America is my favorite Marvel character because I love earnest heroes. Steve Rogers is an idealist. There’s not enough of that in a genre about people who can fly. I’m glad to see Marvel allowing Cap to be that kind of character instead of turning him into a brooding killer like DC has done with Superman. Evans’ take on Cap is one of my favorite super hero performances period. Which is probably partially who I am inclined to look past Civil War’s short-comings. I’m a sucker for any movie in which Captain America makes a stand.

At the end of the movie, the bad guy wins which is kind of a bummer. Zemo set out to split up the Avengers and that’s exactly what happened. Cap’s team of fugitives consists of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Ant-Man. Possibly Black Widow as well. And Black Panther is at least assisting him by secretly harboring Bucky. Iron Man’s officially sanctioned team is going to need some new recruits. They are down to an injured War Machine, Vision and the teenaged Spider-man. Paging Captain Marvel!

Daffystardust: And her movie isn’t even set to land in theaters for more than 2 years still.

In the meantime, we’ve got Doctor Strange, the second Guardians of the Galaxy, the new Spider-Man, Thor, Black Panther, the first half of Infinity War, and the Ant-Man/Wasp movie. That will be plenty to keep us busy, won’t it?

Can’t. Wait.

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by the way, the Inhumans movie has been shelved for now

Lebeau: And those are only movies from Marvel Studios. We’re also getting X-Men movies from Fox and DC movies from Warner Brothers. The ones not directed by Zack Snyder might even be worth watching! There will be lots of choices for super hero movie fans going forward. But I do wonder how long we will have to wait to find out what’s next for the Avengers. Dr. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel probably won’t touch on the Avengers in any meaningful way. Robert Downey Jr. is supposed to appear in Spider-man: Homecoming. So I guess we’ll get some kind of update then. But we may have to wait till Black Panther to get any kind of news on Cap’s group. That’s almost two years from now.

As we talk through this, I’m pretty sure I had a more positive reaction to Civil War than you did. A lot of the things we have talked about so far didn’t really bother me at all. My biggest objection to the movie was the focus on the carnage and collateral damage caused by superhero battles. This is a big thing in superhero movies these days. The DC movies in particular seem to be centered on the idea that these characters level buildings filled with people on a regular basis. That is true, but traditionally the genre has sidestepped the issue of what happens to the people who live in those buildings. The assumption has always been that the heroes helped with the clean-up effort off panel and there were rarely any casualties.

One of the things I liked about Age of Ultron was that they went out of their way to establish that the Avengers were doing their best to minimize damage and loss of life. But in Civil War, the events in Sokovia are recontextualized in a way that is arguably more realistic. We’re told that there were lots of casualties and Alfre Woodard even gives Tony the Mrs. Kinter treatment (Jaws reference!) over the loss of her son. The story requires that the government has a reason to step in, so I knew that the Avengers would need to have some blood on their hands. But there is a fantasy component to the super hero genre. That big battle on the air strip was fun because he were just watching these characters cut loose with their powers. That’s the stuff I go to these movies to enjoy. When these battles start taking place in a more realistic setting with real-world consequences (or god forbid 9/11 imagery), you sacrifice some of the fun.

Did any of this bother you or is this just me?

Daffystardust: I actually remember reading books back in the ’80s that actively devoted a few panels to the heroes helping with the cleanup after one of their battles. Also, protecting bystanders from falling debris was a constant source of distraction for heroes like Spider-Man. The death of Captain Stacy helped drive this home and he was always breaking off from fights to save innocents.

I don’t mind the way this specific movie addressed the issue, but it’s a story problem with no real solution unless there’s a big event that helps to prove to the world at large that the heroes do more good than harm. Ross (or someone else in his job) will have to make a public statement disavowing major portions of the Sokovia Accords. Most people in the Marvel cinematic universe will have to accept the collateral damage that goes along with having a built-in super powered line of defense. In the books, events such as the alien invasion at the end of the first Avengers movie were plenty for most citizens.

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I guess we’re meant to assume that they did a really bad job of community outreach in the weeks following that event, leaving some people under the impression that the conflict was their fault. A quick media interview saying “Hey everybody. Aliens exist. They’re aggressive and they attacked New York City. It was bad enough that your leaders tried to nuke New York, but we stopped the whole thing dead in its tracks. You’re welcome” night have helped. While that would have annoyed members of the government, it would have gone a long way toward getting the citizenry on board. Maybe the threat of the literal end of the universe in the Infinity War will help with this, but that’s really the kind of story that tends to happen out in space without the knowledge of anyone from Earth other than those who were actively involved.

Lebeau: The film-makers clearly intended for this to be an ambiguous movie. Neither Iron or Cap are supposed to be 100% right. Obviously, Iron Man turns out to be wrong in the sense that Bucky was framed in this instance. But he still has blood on his hands including the blood of Tony’s parents. The bigger question and the one without a clear cut answer is whether or not the superheroes should report to a governing body like the UN. If Daffy Stardust is a super hero, does he sign the Sokovia Accords?

Daffystardust: Absent the secret identity element that was the focus of the story in the books I would probably end up signing grudgingly. Not because I felt like it was the ideal thing to do, but because making myself into a fugitive would be really inconvenient. Of course I would probably find myself in that situation anyway after I instinctively leaped to someone’s defense in the heat of the moment. (You mean I needed a direct order before I was allowed to stop the Abomination from crushing that bus full of tourists?) “Stardust” sounds like I belong out in space, so maybe I’d just start spending most of my time out there. Bummer.

Since we’ve never firmly established the extent of Daffy Stardust’s powers, I’m going to decide that one of them is shape-shifting, which would allow me to wander around wherever I liked without anybody bugging me. I’d want to go to theme parks, after all.

How about Lebeau? I know he used to look a lot like Bane from the Batman comics, so maybe he’s already in trouble with the authorities.

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Lebeau: LOL. Wow. That reference goes back a few years! I forgot that pre-Val Kilmer my avatar was comic book related. Depending on who you ask, I probably belong in the super villain camp.

If I were an Avenger, I’d be a lot like Falcon in that I do whatever Cap does only slower. Real life me has the most in common with Hawkeye. I’ve got a family to think about, but I’m too stubborn for my own good. If a rich jerk like Tony Stark started throwing his weight behind something, I’d probably have to oppose him on principle.

Part of the problem with the premise of Civil War is that we don’t know what UN supervision might look like. If it means never taking action with the say-so of the ambassador of Sweden, then I think the Accords are pretty obviously a bad idea. As Spider-man says in the movie, when people with (great) powers don’t use them and something bad happens, it’s their fault. That’s actually a pretty compelling argument against what Tony is selling.

Heck, Tony himself should realize he isn’t going to play by the rules. He abandons the Accords the second it becomes inconvenient for him. He’s never been a rules follower. While accountability sounds like a good idea, in practice there’s no way this works. The last government-run agency tasked with keeping people safe was infiltrated by Hydra two summer ago. Within days of signing the Accords, there are already signs that Thunderbolt Ross is not the guy you want calling the shots. Just ask the Hulk. If he weren’t MIA, this movie would have lasted about 10 minutes.

Daffystardust: Hmmm…yeah, now that I think of it, recent events in my own life indicate that I might have found a way to avoid signing without ever indicating that I never would.

Being a shape-shifter sure would help to accomplish that.

There really is no one big reason why Civil War didn’t thrill me overall (although I would give it a mild recommendation). It was death by a series of cuts.

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1) I was a little amused that they took a villain they had introduced so carefully in the last movie and killed him off without much thought. I never read any books featuring Crossbones, but his suicide bomb gambit didn’t seem to match the guy from Winter Soldier, either.

2) The continued presence of The Vision here just keeps reminding me how his origin and the whole Ultron story was botched last year.

3) The introduction of the Black Panther was definitely rushed.

4) The toggling back and forth between the Avengers and the UN meeting was awkwardly executed.

5) “Great. This is all going to be in service of saving Bucky, who I don’t care about in the least.”

6) Hey, why isn’t anybody asking about those really handy facial imitation masks that S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to have easy access to and Black Widow used in the last Captain America movie?

7) That stairway escape was really cool when Jason Bourne did it…and it was totally kick-ass when Daredevil did it.

8) Why does some of the editing here remind me of the Affleck Daredevil movie?

9) Seriously- The whole “androids can cry too” thing just never ever resonates with me. I guess I’ll suffer through The Vision’s storylines so we can enjoy his cool powers in the fight scenes.

10) Well, there’s Baron Zemo. When does he get his groovy pink hood?

11) I like this Spider-Man, but this movie is officially over-stuffed now.

12) Cap is stopping that helicopter with super-duper bicep curls.

13) Zemo had to wait to show this video to Iron Man until they were all in this facility in the middle of nowhere because?…reasons?

14) What the heck did Cap know about Tony’s parents’ deaths that he hadn’t told him and why the heck would he know it? 1991 was solidly in the middle of the time period when he was frozen.

I just couldn’t manage to keep my brain quiet during this movie. Every time I felt like it had hit its groove I was thrown by something else puzzling or awkward. Maybe another viewing would leave me less critical, but boy my first viewing just didn’t satisfy me on the level I had hoped. Perhaps I was being too critical in the moment. There was plenty about the movie that was a lot of fun.

Lebeau: That’s quite a list! Most of the things you are referencing didn’t bother me that much. Or maybe even not at all. A few of your comments are the kinds of things that would only be of concern to a very particular audience. I read some of these items in the voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I don’t know if your ambivalence over Bucky is common or not, but I do know some people who feel very differently. The character has some very devoted fans. The Vision, I’m not so sure about.

A couple of your criticisms are related to the fact that Civil War is not a direct follow-up to Winter Soldier. Originally, the third Captain America movie was intended to be just that. But plans were changed around the same time that Marvel was playing chicken with Warner Brothers over the release dates of this movie and Batman V Superman. Originally, the script was going to focus more heavily on Cap’s search for Bucky and presumably Crossbones would have played more of a role in that version of the script. People are speculating that Marvel was concerned that a solo Cap movie wouldn’t seem like an event on the same scale as BVS, so they offered Robert Downey Jr. a truckload of money for their own superhero slugfest.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen that Winter Soldier follow-up. But a lot of that story was worked into this one. I feel like we got a resolution at least.

I am as certain as I can be that Civil War will benefit from repeat viewings. I was initially pretty disappointed with Iron Man 3 and Age of Ultron. While I stand by my criticisms of those movies, repeat viewings have softened my stance. Starz (which I have for some reason) has been running the last four Marvel movies almost non-stop this month and I have really come to appreciate that while Age of Ultron was an overstuffed mess, there was still an awful lot of good stuff in there.

That experience informed the way I watched Civil War. I recognized that the movie had a lot of the same problems as Age of Ultron – problems which will probably persist in most Marvel movies going forward – but I was able to set them aside. Yes, Winter Soldier is a better movie. But Civil War executes better than Age of Ultron did. Also, Batman V Superman was fresh in my mind. The two movies covered a lot of the same territory, so comparisons are unavoidable. And by comparison, Civil War is a freaking masterpiece. If you haven’t already done so, go watch BVS. Then come back and apologize to Civil War for judging it harshly.

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Daffystardust: Ha! No thanks. I’ll keep my standards high.

I’m well aware that some of the problems I had with Civil War are particular to me, but hey, there they are. I don’t expect many people to be completely in sync with me, but I did want to give you and the readers a chance to understand where I’m coming from. That’s why the list form above felt like the way to do things. It approximates my experience in the theater. I felt like I hadn’t dismissed one issue for long before another one was popping up and they popped up with enough regularity that I wasn’t getting a smooth and seamless movie experience, which is something I did get from the “tier one” Marvel movies I mentioned above.

A missing Captain America movie between Winter Soldier and Civil War would explain a little. To be honest, I kind of wish Civil War was the fifth Captain America movie.

Lebeau: As someone who intensely disliked the comic book the movie is based on, I didn’t need a Civil War movie at all. But the book sold well and Marvel has been in love with the idea ever since. In fact, the comics are gearing up for Civil War II in which Iron Man fights Captain Marvel. That Iron Man can’t get along with anyone!

Since you brought up the “tier one” concept again, I’ll throw in my $.02. I would rank Civil War in my top five movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My top four in no particular order would be Iron Man and Avengers (both largely for how fresh they felt at the time), Guardians of the Galaxy and Winter Soldier. Civil War isn’t on the same level as those movies, but I’ll put it ahead of more modest efforts like Ant-Man, CA: First Avenger or Thor. Those movies, to my mind, make up the midrange Marvel releases. And then there are misfires like Iron Man 2 or Incredible Hulk.

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Realistically, there isn’t all that much that separates the best Marvel movies from the worst. They range from “so-so” to “pretty good” with the best of the bunch being “a lot of fun”. But I don’t think anyone would argue any of these movies even border on greatness. The best parts of Civil War are among standouts of the franchise. If you’re not having fun during the big battle scene, you just don’t like Marvel movies. For me, there were nits to pick. But nothing that was going to detract from the awesomeness of seeing Ant-man get shot through the air on the tip of one of Hawkeye’s arrows. That was as close as any movie has ever come to capturing a comic book fight in live action.

So, how does your mixed reaction to Civil War impact your excitement for future Marvel projects? Are you jazzed for Black Panther? Does a movie like Dr. Strange which is less connected to the main story feel inessential?

Daffystardust: Civil War is good enough to keep me coming back for more. I’m still a Marvel fan. After all, I came back after Iron Man 3, didn’t I?

I don’t really have any background with Dr Strange, but the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch helps boost it to something I’ll see in the theater.

Black Panther is a little more exciting simply because I know the character a bit better and it seems like his movie might integrate more with the rest.

It looks like our rankings aren’t actually that far apart. I do think that Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy are the kind of top notch popcorn flicks that belong in any conversation about the best movies of their respective years. “Great?” No, maybe not if we’re comparing them to movies like The Godfather or Citizen Kane, but they’re tops in their own genre and deserve the spots they get in posterity.

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Lebeau: Those two movies hold up on their own in a way most of the Marvel movies don’t. You can show Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy to someone who isn’t into the whole Marvel thing, and odds are they will enjoy them. Civil War doesn’t work on that level. The appeal of Civil War is that it builds on almost all of the previous movies in the series. I can only imagine a non-fan being a little lost and overwhelmed watching it. Ant-Man just shows up with no introduction whatsoever. If you weren’t aware of what his deal was, you’d figure it out. But you might wonder who the guy was and what he was doing there. Civil War is definitely aimed at fans who have watched all the previous movies.

Age of Ultron took a little of the wind out of my sails for the future of Marvel movies. I realized that going forward, most of the movies would have to devote a good amount of their running time to setting up other movies. That’s how Marvel comics work as well. This tends to lead to unsatisfying conclusions. Most Marvel events like the original Civil War don’t so much end as they tease the next big event. In the movies, we have been getting a shake-up to the status quo leading into post-credit tags that leave us wondering what happens next. But what happens next will likely be more of the same only bigger and with more new characters.

With Civil War, I guess I came to terms with that. The solo movies like Dr. Strange and Black Panther have a better likelihood of telling good stand-alone stories. The big all-hands-on-deck events are going to be used as platforms to launch the smaller movies.

Overall, I don’t think our opinions are very far off. We both liked Civil War overall, right?

Daffystardust: This is one of those movies that has faults, but whose strengths are so distinct that they carry you through anyway. I was very entertained by large chunks of what was presented, but I remain a little frustrated that the little problems that kept bugging me through its running time. Follow-up viewings will almost certainly allow me to focus less on these faults and more on what I liked about the movie because I’ll have to come to terms with those things.

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I’m giving Captain America: Civil War a recommendation, but not a really enthusiastic one. I did want to offer a mild dissent from some of the raves I’ve seen on line, though. In the end, this is a pretty average Marvel movie. I’m guessing that people who are likely to see it will go ahead and do so no matter what anybody says and they certainly should in this case. The complex points of view, laugh lines, and fantastic action stunts will leave most audience members more than satisfied.

Lebeau: The initial reviews were as positive as the reviews for Batman V Superman were toxic. Some critics may have gone overboard. Civil War doesn’t deserve raves. There’s actually a conspiracy theory out there that Disney is paying critics to lavish praise on Marvel movies while trashing super hero movies from rival studios. Supposedly Deadpool was given a pass because its February release date didn’t make it a threat. But Bryan Singer’s latest X-Men movie is already getting a collective shrug from critics.

Looking ahead at the barrage of superhero movies before us, will you see X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters? Which movie are you most excited about? For me, Civil War was the big one. I’ll probably go see Dr. Strange no matter what. But I’m cautiously optimistic about Suicide Squad.

Daffystardust: I grew up a Marvel reader, so I’m choosier about which DC movies I see. If the general reception is strong I am much more likely to go check one out. Batman’s presence can help too.

I will go to the theater to see the X-Men movie unless the general reaction is awful. I don’t see that happening, though.

The lowest rated MCU film I’m seeing on Rotten Tomatoes is Thor: Dark World at 66% and even it doesn’t go “splat” on that site. Metacritic has it at 53%, so maybe there is some evidence that the MCU is a darling for whatever reason. That said, if Batman V Superman was really really good, I doubt the reviews would have been poor.

Lebeau: I have a litmus test. Anyone who says positive things about Batman V Superman is not to be trusted. It was truly wretched. Paying critics to pan it would be like paying me to eat pie. I’m going to do it anyway, but if you want to pay me I’ll take your money.

Before I get worked up on a Zack Snyder rant, maybe we should wrap this thing up. Anything else you want to say about the latest Captain America movie?

Daffystardust: No, not really, but I will pay you $3 if you post a 10 minute video to LeBlog that consists of nothing but you eating different kinds of pies.

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Lebeau: LOL. Only if Zack Snyder films it and I’m played by Ben Affleck.

On that note, let me do a bit of housekeeping. Observant readers may have noticed that this isn’t the weekly article on the Golden Raspberries. I’m taking a week off from that series to catch my breath. Next week, we’ll dive into the remaining five years of Razzies like Batfleck diving into a coconut cream.

If you enjoyed this back-and-forth, let us know in the comments section. We’ll do it again the next time I want to miss a deadline!

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Posted on May 12, 2016, in Daffy and Lebeau, Movies, Super Heroes. Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. Your pictures cracked me up. Now I want to read the 37 Naughtiest Secrets of Classic TV Stars by Daffystardust!

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  2. I loved CIVIL WAR! It wasn’t perfect, sure, but as a whole I greatly enjoyed it. My only problem was that the early action scenes, like too often these days, were too fast, too shaky, and too close. Pull the camera back, slow it down, and hold the damn thing still. As far as the “too fast” thing goes, that’s on the editor. Editors need to knock that crap off. I call it “Greengrassing” a scene, although that effect began before Paul Greengrass started using it all of the time.

    Everything else about the movie, I loved. You mentioned more than once that you didn’t know how Cap knew that Bucky, or more accurately, Winter Soldier had killed Howard Stark. In the movie WINTER SOLDIER, when Cap and Black Widow are in that bunker with the computer-version of Arnim Zola, we see the Winter Soldier file flash on the computer screen. One of the kills it mentions is Howard Stark. Cap saw that report, and since, as the character in the books once stated, Cap “sees faster”. He didn’t miss that mention in the report. I hope that clears up that particular quibble.

    As far as what side I’d be on, well, Captain America’s side, of course. In the original comic miniseries, which I also greatly disliked, I was on Cap’s side, and loved it when MY guy, Spidey, switched from Team Iron Man to Team Cap. This storyline is different, but the outcome for me is still the same: Team Cap.

    As a lifelong Spider-Man fan (He has been my favorite superhero since I was conscious of the things even existing, thanks to The Electric Company and the cheesy, late 70s, short-lived, live-action TV show), I loved seeing Spidey mix it up with the other heroes, cracking smart and wise. LOVED it! And we didn’t even really get a full picture of what he can do either. He is much stronger than we saw there, as I’m sure we all know already. While I’m iffy on a younger, hotter Aunt May (extremely iffy), I am willing to take a chance based on this intro to the character. I just hope that the Marvel influence from other characters is extremely limited in the future solo Spidey movies. as cool as it is to see him with other heroes, Spidey has always been a better solo hero. Also, considering he has the best rogue’s gallery of all of the Marvel heroes, maybe we’ll get some good characterizations in the future films, so we can stop quibbling about how weak the Marvel villains are. I still hate how they so casually dispatched the Red Skull and screwed up the Mandarin.

    Okay. I think I’ve said enough for now. I just wanted to say a few words and look how that expanded beyond just a few. I will end with saying, again, that I loved CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and am seeing it for my third time tomorrow night.

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    • Also, let’s not forget that Cap has been on the lookout for Winter Soldier since the end of his last solo movie. That movie ended with Black Window handing him a thick file full of secrets. So all of that intel could have easily been in there. Cap knowing about the hit wasn’t an issue for me, but I agree that a little clarification on the point could have helped. Specifically, why was it a big deal. Did Tony really think Cap was going to come to him and say “Oh yeah, by the way, my best friend killed your parents. I know you thought it was a car accident but it’s actually more traumatic than that.” That’s not something you just drop in conversation over shawarma.

      I was actually pretty impressed with the way Marvel sidestepped the Mandarin issue. They are currently in hot water over casting a white woman as The Ancient One, a white dude as Iron Fist and an Asian woman as Elektra. So you can only imagine the can of worms a character like the Mandarin would have opened. I wouldn’t mind seeing a return of Red Skull, but it doesn’t sound like Hugo Weaving is willing to do it. So the part would need to be recast. Shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Spidey does have some great villains. Maybe some of them can come over to play, but most of them aren’t Avengers material. Marvel really needs to work something out with Fox over the FF!

      I have no reservations whatsoever about younger, hotter Aunt May. I always wondered why Peter Parker’s aunt looked like his grandma.

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      • Yeah, how do you tell a friend that another friend, while brainwashed, killed their parents? That’s not a topic anyone would care to approach, but I can also understand Tony being upset and feeling betrayed about it.

        As far as Aunt May goes, Uncle Ben was quite a bit older than Peter’s father, Richard. This is not an unheard of thing. If Ben was 15 when Richard was born, and Richard waited until he was 35 or possibly even 40 to have Peter, Ben and May would be in their 50s when Peter was born, and approaching 70 when he’s 15 or 16. Not that crazy.

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        • I can buy a senior citizen aunt. But I think it’s pretty uncommon these days. I had the reverse situation where one of my uncles was only about 10 years older than I was. My basic point being, I don’t care a whit how old Aunt May is. But I like Marissa Tomei, so sure. Why not? 😉

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        • As a Spider-Man purist, it’s just somewhat bothersome. And I hope he doesn’t get into the habit of often calling her “May” instead of “Aunt May”. He did it in the movie. I hope further utterances of that appellation are extremely few and far between.

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        • As a comic book fan, I can somewhat relate. I get mad when Zack Snyder completely misses the point of Superman. But I let the details slide. You want to change Johnny Storms’ race? Sure, go ahead. Make Aunt May younger than she traditionally appears? Doesn’t phase me one bit. Change Bruce Banner’s name to David because you’re worried that TV viewers in the 70’s thinks Bruce sounds too gay? Um, that’s a strange decision but it doesn’t ruffle my feathers. Make a villain named “Zemo” with absolutely no resemblance to the character from the comics whatsoever? I don’t know why you bothered using the name, but I’m not going to let that phase me.

          If the movie works and the heart of the character is there, I can abide just about any changes. It’s all about execution to me. Marvel has a good track record of getting the big stuff right even if the details get tweaked.

          While I’m a big fan who can and will rant about characters being portrayed “wrong”, I’m not a purist in any sense.

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        • I’m a purist, but if the overall picture works out for the better, then I can get behind it. I’ve forgiven quite a few things since 2000.

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        • In general, my preference is to remain true to the source material. If you make Captain America Canadian or give him guns instead of a shield, you have missed the point. Part of the thrill I got from Civil War is that it looks like a Marvel comic book come to life. If you change too much, you lose that. They should only change things when it makes sense to do so. Somethings that look cool in comic books look stupid on film. And a certain amount – a massive amount really – of streamlining is to be expected. That’s just the nature of doing an adaptation.

          I can appreciate how purists might feel. It must be frustrating!

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    • daffystardust

      So, when Cap told Tony that he didn’t know that it was Bucky who had killed his parents, he was…lying? That would seem oddly placed for this character.

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      • That entire exchange was awkward and could have been better handled. Or dropped. They already had reason enough for Tony to take a swing at Cap. It elicited as “wait what?” out of me. I just quickly set my questions aside to enjoy the climactic battle. But I understand why it took you out of the movie. To a lesser extent, I had the same reaction.

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  3. People being upset over a white guy being cast as Danny Rand/Iron Fist are just being ridiculous. The character is white. Always has been. Recasting the Ancient One as a white lady is silly though.

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    • If the Danny Rand thing happened in a vacuum, I would agree it’s not a big deal. But Marvel doesn’t have the best track record with Asian characters. Particularly on their Netflix TV shows. With that in mind, a little unconventional casting could have been seen as evening the score a bit.

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      • “Evening the score”. Ugh. There’s no need for that. Just cast to the original incarnation of the character. The problem with the Ancient One casting isn’t just that they recast an elderly, Asian male part. The Ancient One is one of two major Asian parts in the life of Doctor Strange. The other is his servant, Wong. So it was problematic to keep with the wise, old Asian man cliche, according to Marvel, but the Asian help cliche was okay? They should have left both as they were. Two Asian parts, two Asian actors. Also, there is talk of Shang-Chi being in the Iron Fist show, and a possibility of him getting his own show in the future.

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        • We can’t really judge them based on “talk”. Their track record so far isn’t that great. I was impressed with Scott Derrickson’s response to complaints from Asian Americans. He was open and sensitive. Hopefully in the long run, Marvel can learn from their mistakes. See also their treatment of women to date.

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        • Anyone can appear to be sensitive and caring. It’s easy, especially when it’s not in person. They screwed up. They should have cast the character as he was in the funny books. And I’m not sure which treatment of women you mean. Unlike DC, Marvel doesn’t have an iconic female superhero like Wonder Woman. Should they have already made a female superhero movie based on a completely unknown character? The desire for a Black Widow movie has never been very loud or vocal by many. It has slowly grown to become a no-brainer due to the rising popularity of the character from these movies.

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        • I have heard a lot of vocal calls for a Black Widow movie. I’ve been calling for it myself. But look at the way the character has been handled. She’s always flirting with whoever’s movie she is guest starring in. There was quite a ruckus last year when Jeremy Renner called her a “slut” while promoting Age of Ultron. It’s been noticeable enough that Saturday Night Live did a parody of the way Marvel treats the character when Scarlett Johansson hosted.

          For years, Marvel has gone out of its way to keep its female characters out of merchandise. There have been several Twitter campaigns asking #Where’sNatasha and #Where’sGamora. Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter also made some unenlightened and unfortunate comments about female heroes starring in movies that were captured in the Sony hacks.

          We’re finally going to get a movie headlining a female protagonist in 2018!! The MCU will be ten years old by then!

          Ironically, I see Vanity Fair published an article just now taking Marvel to task for their treatment of Black Widow (or lack therof).

          Should they have already made a movie based on a completely unknown character? They made Ant-Man! Yes, they should have made a movie with a female protagonist by now. Black Widow is much better known than the Guardians of the Galaxy were before their movie was made. And it’s not like she is the only possible candidate.

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        • An ensemble movie made up of goofy characters is a much easier sell than a female superhero that no one’s heard of. The Ant-Man movie was in development before the MCU was created, as a goofy comedy. That would have been its selling point. I agree that they should have included a Black Widow movie in the plan already. They should also have included at least one more female superhero in the Avengers mix from the get-go, but doing a dry-run of an unknown female superhero in a big-budget movie would have been risky. I think though now, with the established MCU brand, they have more leeway and cache to do so. But again, prior to all of this, there was no no-brainer female hero. I WISH Marvel had a popular equivalent to Wonder Woman. And don’t get me started on DC not having done a Wonder Woman movie until now. I have never understood that at all.

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        • The thing is, Marvel has rolled the dice on things that were much bigger risks than a BW movie. And let’s not forget that the character is played by the second-biggest movie star in Marvel’s stable. If Scarlett Johansson can have a hit with a non-franchise action film like Lucy, BW is money in the bank. I don’t care if you have had Ant-Man on the back-burner since 1982. Make BW. It’s shameful they have waited this long. And they STILL haven’t announced a BW movie yet!!

          By the time Captain Marvel comes out, Marvel will have made 20 movies in ten years none of which will have featured a female lead. That’s just sad.

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        • I think the lack of a female led MCU movie is especially egregious considering that Disney owns the MCU Marvel AND Star Wars. Force Awakens had the biggest box office haul of all time by a large margin (at least domestically) and the lead character was a woman. The next Star Wars movie also stars a woman in the lead role. So they clearly know a woman can carry this type of movie (the demographics of the audience for a MCU movie and a Star Wars movie have to be nearly identical).

          Since you brought up toys, the main multipack set of characters from Force Awakens did not contain Rey. You had to buy her separately. Thankfully the backlash was enough that they’ve since changed it I believe. But as far as toy lines go this is still a big issue as you mention.

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        • Yes, my hats off to the folks who have held Disney responsible for hiding the female characters in their toy lines. It’s been frustrating to watch. Those multi-pack sets are notorious for replacing female characters with D-grade male supporting characters.

          Having said that, you’re kind of comparing apples and oranges with Lucasfilm and Marvel. They both operate independently of one another. Yes, they answer to Disney corporate. But Disney’s not influencing the content, just the flow of product. Lucasfilm was ahead of the curve in recognizing the need for diversity. Marvel has been behind it for decades. Not surprising considering the culture of comic books.

          Here’s hoping the best aspects of these corporate cousins rub off on each other. Lucasfilm can take a few more chances with its content and Marvel can embrace the strength that comes from a diverse cast of characters.

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        • I understand they are separate divisions, but they still answer to Disney. I’m sure there have been plenty of times Disney execs set budget limits or made other demands related to the movies their subsidiaries produced. If they really wanted they could basically say “You WILL add more women and minorities in leading roles in these movies”. So if that doesn’t happen I hold them as responsible as the Marvel division itself.

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        • daffystardust

          You can certainly make that argument, and there was some re-structuring just last year in the relationship between Disney and Marvel that reflects this. Marvel entertainment has maintained a strong independence in its day-to-day running and its head, Isaac Perlmutter, both enforced that and led to changes in it. Simply put, the guy has a reputation as a real jerk, and it’s easy to see his stewardship combined with the existing culture in comics resulting in what we’ve seen from Marvel. There have been rumors about Perlmutter making racially insensitive comments, which doesn’t seem unlikely considering the guy has given to the Trump campaign. I’ve heard multiple times that people at Disney just don’t enjoy dealing with him, and they actually re-structured in 2015 so that Kevin Feige could just report directly to Allen Horn of Disney rather than going through Perlmutter. Could this change end up helping with the issue we’re discussing here? I don’t know, but I’m betting it won’t hurt.

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        • Perlmutter is a real handful. For the premiere of one of the Iron Man movies, he insisted that the budget be limited to serving pretzels and chips. It was like a kids’ birthday party. The reason no one bought Marvel prior to the Disney deal was that despite the fact it could be picked up for a bargain price, Perlmutter was just impossible to deal with. He and Iger have fought consistently since the deal was made. Unfortunately for Bob, part of the deal is that Perlmutter is now on the Disney board. So Iger can’t just be rid of him. But when it came down to potentially losing Feige, the guy who most consider responsible for Marvel Studio’s success, Iger was willing to take direct action against Perlmutter.

          Reduced involvement from Perlmutter can only help going forward. Feige expresses interest in projects like a Black Marvel movie. But until he actually takes action, he’s still coming up short in that area. I do think Marvel will improve and I give them some credit for having female-lead TV shows like Agent Carter (which was recently cancelled despite being superior in every way to Agents of SHIELD) and Jessica Jones.

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        • They could, but there’s a very good reason why Disney isn’t doing that sort of thing. Disney bought Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm because they were already successful and frankly Disney needed them. They needed Pixar because their own animation division was faltering. They needed Marvel and Star Wars because for generations, Disney had trouble appealing to boys. Marvel and Star Wars already had that market and Disney knew they would never crack it on their own. With all three, Disney has taken a hands-off, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach.

          This doesn’t mean Disney’s going to leave Marvel on their own completely. They have certain expectations that have to be met. There had been a power struggle at Marvel between Ike Perlmutter and Kevin Feige which came to a head during the making of Captain America: Civil War. Perlmutter is notoriously cheap and has ridden Marvel studios hard on their spending. Eventually, Fiege went to Iger and Iger stepped in. Now Feige report directly to Disney and bypass Perlmutter entirely.

          As long as Marvel continues to be successful, that will be the extent of Iger’s meddling. He’s not going to get mixed up in content because he knows that Feige is the right guy to make those decisions. They bought Marvel to appeal to boys, so you can bet Bob Iger doesn’t give a damn how many female super hero movies get made. Disney sells princess toys to girls. He doesn’t need to sell them Black Widow toys too.

          Is Disney responsible? I guess so in that they own Marvel. But at the end of the day, Marvel studios remains largely autonomous. So I’m focusing on the guys calling the shots. Right now, that’s Feige.

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  4. Here is an interesting tidbit from an interview with Iron Man 3 writer-director Shane Black:

    We replaced a lot of things. The plot went this way and that way. Stéphanie Szostak’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it. Rebecca Hall’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it.

    Why? Rebecca Hall’s character does have an abrupt ending.

    All I’ll say is this, on the record: There was an early draft of Iron Man 3 where we had an inkling of a problem. Which is that we had a female character who was the villain in the draft. We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand and we’ve changed our minds because, after consulting, we’ve decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female.

    What?

    So, we had to change the entire script because of toy making. Now, that’s not Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore.

    Ike Perlmutter is gone.

    Yeah, Ike’s gone. But New York called and said, “That’s money out of our bank.” In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian – and they didn’t want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian. I liked the idea, like Remington Steele, you think it’s the man but at the end, the woman has been running the whole show. They just said, “no way.”

    I like the Remington Steele comparison. That would have been great.

    I remember Remington Steele probably better than it is. But just so you know, too, I’m a Kevin Feige fan. If you ever say anything about decisions made at Marvel, I hope you’ll qualify it by saying that Kevin Feige is the guy who gets it right. And I don’t know if it was Ike, I don’t know who it was. They never told me who made the decision, we just got that memo one day and it was about toy sales. That’s all I know.

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    • So it would have a pull the rug out from under us moment where it really was the innocent-seeming woman, huh? Like in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES? Bleh.

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      • Execution is key. I actually liked the reveal in TWINE although the movie had other problems. Less so in TDKR because it felt like a cheat there and undercut Bane who had been a pretty compelling threat up to that point. No telling how it would have turned out in IM3, but that’s really not the point. I was getting at Marvel’s policies towards female characters being determined by toy sales.

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        • daffystardust

          So, the obvious question is: How many toys based on Killian did they actually sell? I’m guessing the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of “very few.” This is really stupid thinking on Marvel’s part. The villain that the movie was being sold on was The Mandarin. That’s the character who could have sold some toys. If you’re going with the idea that he’s just some goofy actor playing a part as the front for the “real” villain, then IT DOESN’T MATTER if that “real villain” is male or female. This is a real facepalm.

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  5. Lebeau is obviously marvel fan boy, civil war is no better than BvS I agree with daffy I feel empty after watching civil war while actions scenes are great it’s not as epic as BvS while BvS is disjointed, it’s not as bad as critics says, the presence of trinity looks more iconic than avengers asemble in their first movie, marvel fans can overlook loose adaption of civil war comics but they can’t fanthom minor characters change in DC, there’s many batman and superman movies already anyway why not let them try different ways for new generations

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    • Junior, buddy ol’ pal, you could not be more wrong if you tried.

      I have a long track record which shows that I am a total DC fanboy. Of the two of us, Daffy is the Marvel guy. That’s why a lot of his criticisms with Civil War are ways in which the movie differed from the comic books. That stuff didn’t phase me one bit. As someone who read and hated the Civil War comic book, I was glad the movie improved upon the source material. A faithful adaptation of the original story would have been a disaster – not unlike the train wreck that was BVS.

      Yes, BVS was as bad as critics claim. It’s not just disjointed. It’s a mess. The original cut was quite a bit longer and clearly there are important transitions on the editing room floor. That or the movie never made any sense to begin with. Why they decided to keep in all the dream sequences while cutting potentially important information is beyond me. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what’s in the extended cut. Maybe this really was the best they could do with what was shot. That’s a scary prospect.

      As DC geek, I was stoked to see the Trinity on screen. But it’s tarnished because Batman and Superman are barely recognizable as the iconic characters I know and love. Wonder Woman shone, but one suspects that is largely because she didn’t have enough screen time for Zack Snyder to ruin her. These are not “minor changes”, my friend. Snyder clearly holds superheroes in disdain. He has said as much in interviews. While he was promoting Watchmen, he said something to the effect that Nolan’s Batman wasn’t dark enough because Batman wasn’t raped in prison.

      Everyone says that about “Batman Begins.” “Batman’s dark.” I’m like, “Okay, no, Batman’s cool.” He gets to go to a Tibetan monastery and be trained by ninjas. Okay? I want to do that. But he doesn’t, like, get raped in prison. That could happen in my movie. If you want to talk about dark, that’s how that would go.

      That’s just one of dozens of quotes that demonstrate how ill-suited Zack Snyder is to handle these characters. Fortunately, WB has finally stepped in. It’s too late for them to outright fire Snyder, but they have brought in Geoff Johns to guide things going forward. Johns is already promising a 180 from BVS. He’s talking about bringing “hope and optimism” back to the DC cinematic universe. Check out Johns’ take on Superman:

      I think people make a mistake when they say, ‘Superman’s not relatable because he’s so powerful,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? He’s a farmboy from Kansas who moves to the city and just wants to do the best he can with what he’s got.’ That’s the most relatable character in the world.

      You’re damn right, Geoff Johns! Junior, sorry dude, but you’re just way off the mark on this one.

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      • Craig Hansen

        Zack Snyder actually said Batman should have been raped in prison??? Holy crap! I realize that quote is from several years ago, but that wins the worst quote of the week award from me. Wow.

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        • He said this BEFORE WB hired him to run their superhero universe. And somehow, they still hired him!

          It boggles the mind. Fortunately, Snyder has been effectively neutered. WB will fire him outright as soon as they can.

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        • Craig Hansen

          Snyder is still in full-damage mode with Justice League though. It began filming a week or two after BVS’s release, and that accelerated filming schedule didn’t allow Warners any time to react to the acidic reception that BVS got. I’m sure they were shocked at just how bad the reception was. BVS earned a huge $166M opening weekend domestically, and two months later the film is leaving theatres with a take of just under $330M; extraordinarily, this means that BVS could not even double its opening weekend box office take! Half of its entire box office take was earned in its first three days of release. That is just a catastrophic result, especially when for the first time ever you have Batman and Superman, the two biggest comic book superheroes of all time starring together. I mean, even a D-list superhero like Deadpool outperformed BVS by a good margin!

          BVS will earn Warners a bit of money (not a tremendous amount like I’m sure they were anticipating beforehand) but the real damage done is to the further DC Universe films. If people were turned off by BVS then what more could a Justice League film offer? Casual moviegoers don’t really care if Aquaman has a big role or not. And people clearly do not want to see a moody, tortured Superman. That’s not who he is. It’ll be interesting to see how poorly future DC films do from this point out. I think BVS did a lot of damage to the whole DC brand.

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        • Big thumbs up from me. You are 100% on the money. To break even at the box office, BVS needed a global gross somewhere in the billion dollar range. It came in at $870K. That’s a big number, but even with a record-breaking opening, the movie didn’t break even in theaters. It will eventually get into the black thanks to ancillary income like home video. But that should scare the crap out of WB and I’m pretty sure it does. They didn’t have enough lead time to make changes on Justice League, but they are clearly taking steps to right the ship. Pretty much anything short of canning Snyder is on the table. WB is going to be all over him making sure future movies are nothing like BVS. They can’t afford another misstep like that one. You know they are going over prints of Suicide Squad and sweating bullets. If that disappoints, they are pretty much screwed.

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        • Yes, I’m sure Warners is going over Suicide Squad with a fine-tooth comb hoping to correct things, and sure if it is a fun popcorn smash it could help things some, but I really do suspect it could be too late with the damage already done in the public’s eye.

          Marvel built their Cinematic Universe flawlessly, with a long-term plan of building towards an Avengers-team up after several solo films. It seems however that Warners didn’t want to build up good will over several long years like Marvel did and just wanted to get straight to that huge mega-money that Avengers made, which is why after just one solo Superman film they went straight to Batman Vs. Superman, which with Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor thrown in for good measure for all intents and purposes is unofficially a Justice League movie. So now moving into the official Justice League movie next year, all we’re really getting are moody Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – again – and a couple third rate characters like Aquaman that casual moviegoers don’t really care about. With BVS being so poorly received I just don’t see how Justice League earns more than BVS. In all likelyhood with BVS’s piss poor public reception I think it earns even less.

          I’ll be interested in seeing how Suicide Squad does at the box office, and more importantly with public reception. Warners may see it as a do-or-die situation, and it very well may be. A popular hit could give Wonder Woman and JL a boost next year. Or it could just be further poisoning the well. It’ll be interesting to see play out.

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        • I think there is still time for WB to fix things. It’s worth noting that BVS has a 67% approval rating from audiences on RT.com. That’s not good. The controversial Man of Steel has a 75% approval from audiences. Amazing Spider-man 2, which derailed that franchise at Sony, has a 65% approval rating. But still, BVS has its defenders. People who go to the movies and just want to see punches thrown with no thinking whatsoever like BVS just fine.

          The rumor is that Suicide Squad is more of the same. The trailer featured a lot of lighter comedic touches which generated a good response, so supposedly WB is frantically trying to make the movie match the tone of the trailer. People are calling it DC’s GotG, but rumor has it the movie in its current form is nowhere near that much fun. The question is can WB fix it in time? I imagine whatever Suicide Squad turns out to be, it will be better than BVS. It better be.

          The one thing most people liked about BVS was Wonder Woman. Without Snyder helming, I am cautiously optimistic that her solo movie could do well.

          I don’t think JL will feel anything like BVs. Snyder has said he will go for a lighter tone. I believe him because WB isn’t going to give him a choice. He’s going to be sitting in the director’s chair, but much like Martin Campbell on Green Lantern, Snyder’s not going to be calling the shots. Studio interference (which included Geoff Johns) helped ruin GL. But maybe in this case, it will save JL.

          If I had a time machine, I would go back and make the George Miller Justice League movie happen. Think about how much better things could have been! If only…

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      • daffystardust

        Keep in mind that I’ve never read the Civil War books. While I did find the presentation of Baron Zemo in this movie a little puzzling, that’s based on my knowledge of the character from when I was reading the books back in the ’80s. Many of my issues with Civil War had to do with the slightly careless way it treated its characters and with how much some of its style and technical execution reminded me of lesser films in spots. I gave Civil War a slightly reserved thumbs up, though…on the other hand, I have no interest in seeing Batman v Superman.

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        • I knew you weren’t worried about changes from Civil War since you haven’t read it. Zemo doesn’t appear in the book at all. I’m pretty sure in those days he was mixed up with The Thunderbolts – a team you probably have no familiarity with based on when you quit reading. I was referring to difference from Marvel canon as opposed to Civil War specifically.

          I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on BVS. You may need to bite the bullet and watch it so we can commiserate.

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  6. Honestly, at this point I think I’d be more interested in DC doing a Bizarro Superman movie than anything else.

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    • If you aren’t already doing so, watch the CW TV shows. They are flawed, sure, but lots of fun. Supergirl (moving from CBS to the CW) did a take on Bizarro. That show gets so much about the character right that the movie Superman gets wrong.

      After Man of Steel, someone asked Chris Sims what he wanted to see in a sequel. His response was that he wanted it to be revealed that Man of Steel wasn’t actually about Kal-el but about his evil doppleganger. That would be genius.

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  7. A Much Meaner Cut of Iron Man 2 Exists

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/05/31/civil-war-did-not-cause-the-civil-war-at-marvel-the-rot-set-in-with-iron-man-2/

    In a series of recent interviews, the Russo Brothers, directors of the recent Captain America movies, with Avengers to follow, believe that disagreements over plot points in their Civil War film may have led to the splits within Marvel.

    These splits saw Kevin Feige take the movie-making side of the company, Marvel Studios, away from the rest of Marvel so that he reported directly to Disney’s Head Of Studios Alan Horn rather than Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter. This also meant that Captain America: Civil War is the last of the movies to have direct input from Marvel and the Marvel Creative Committee.

    The timing and content of the interviews does seem curious when lined up with a number of other interviews, such as with Shane Black, and others that throw shade on Isaac Perlmutter and the rest of Marvel. I’ve been aware of considerable Hollywood and comics industry upset and dissent over the last few weeks at what some see as a conspiracy, and with convention season heating up, people are talking. And not just David Meisel.

    The fact that it seems to have happened just as the final Marvel Studios film that the comic book side of the company had a say was released seems more like a planned hit. And one that Disney has approved of.

    Let’s dig in.

    I’ve talked to a number of sources who disagree with the Russos’ specific take on the cause of the big split at Marvel. Rather than occurring during Civil War, its origins are with Iron Man 2. And what happened when Marvel executives freaked out after seeing an early cut of the movie. A lot of money had been spent, Marvel wasn’t willing to go back to the drawing board. But changes had to be made.

    Do you remember the scenes with a drunken Tony Stark in the suit? Originally, they were far worse. Scenes which showed Stark falling down drunk, and being cruel, demeaning and frankly misogynist to Pepper Potts were cut, reedited and reshot in order keep the character from being totally irredeemable by the end of his first sequel. Though some of the drunkenness still exists in the final cut, in a more comedic fashion.

    Kevin Feige encountered opposition by the rest of the Marvel team for a lack of judgement over how he allowed the creative team on the movie to treat Marvel’s up-and-coming franchise. And he was overruled.

    But the opposition to his choices appears to have begun the tensions that would lead him to move Marvel Studios away from the comics side. It certainly fostered resentment towards Marvel.

    This rift was deepened when Feige seemed to start taking credit for the conceptualising of the Avengers movie, a series of Marvel films that would lead up to that coming together of the characters and the strategy behind that. But when that was being decided, by the likes of high-level executives Isaac Perlmutter, Alan Fine, Avi Arad, David Meisel and others, Kevin Feige wasn’t in the room.

    Then in 2012 Alan Horn joined Disney as the Head Of Studios. In this role, he did nothing to smooth out the issues at Marvel, or bring the two slowly fracturing parts of Marvel together. Indeed, he seems to have fostered that split.

    He had form in this regard. At Warner Bros, Alan Horn was the man who drove the stake through any remaining connection between DC Comics and WB Studios. Something he seemed he was choosing to do at Marvel as well.

    It may be worth pointing out that Horn has never been the best friend to comics. It was his Warners VP meeting a decade ago that saw DC Vertigo forced to change their creator owned contracts to be more restrictive regarding media rights, something that saw Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and others take their projects elsewhere, a creative brain drain that Vertigo never recovered from.

    He insisted that Marvel Studios move out of the Marvel offices and relocate on the Disney lot, suggesting it would be beneficial on a creative level. The move finally occurred in 2013.

    Feige was now well looked after by Horn and Disney execs who now had instant access to him, and were allowing the fights between Marvel Studios and Marvel to get worse. The inevitable outcome was that Feige and Studios no longer reported to Marvel but directly to Alan Horn himself. Mission accomplished.

    But before that split was official, a little over a year ago, Isaac Perlmutter played peace maker – he invited the entire Marvel team to a meeting in Florida in an attempt to clear the air and get back to the business working better together.

    It was that meeting when Feige stated his desire to be a part of Disney and not Marvel. This was the point of no return, and when Alan Horn and the rest of Disney learnt of this, they were happy to let the inevitable happen.

    So while Ike Perlmutter and Kevin Feige have been seen as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, Alan Horn is seen as playing at Baron Zemo, pulling the strings of the Civil War, pitting Marvel against itself and putting them on a self-destructive path.

    So even though the Russos see their movie as what caused the split, it was merely the last straw.

    The TV shows, for ABC, Netflix and others, including Agent Carter, Jessica Jones and Agents Of SHIELD are still part of Marvel. Though they have lost alignment and co-ordination between the movies and the TV shows which would otherwise have co-promoted each other. You may have noted that this season’s Agents Of SHIELD had a scene where the cast talked about what was happening in Civil War – basically after the writers had got to see the almost-finished film.

    But Doctor Strange in November will be the first Marvel Studios film without the input of Marvel. It will be the first true test of Marvel Studios-without-the-comics.

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