Cinephiles will find the neorealism in the latest Avengers installment, “Captain America: Civil War,” reminiscent of Fellini’s “Le notti di Cabiria” and its underdog Esprit de Corps subtext inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s “Shichinin no Samurai.”
There is no depth here whatsoever and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The most dangerous thing for a comic book action film is to take itself too serious and there’s absolutely no danger of that here.
There is a weak attempt to politicize the Avengers — the U.S. Secretary of State wants to cede the heroes to UN control (of course he does) because, you know, it’s not right that “enhanced individuals,” indeed, any individuals, can operate autonomously — but that’s just a plot device.
Naturally, the Captain’s position is that, “the safest hands are our own.” That settles it for me but is as irksome to Tony Stark as the Bat-signal going off in the middle of ‘Game of Thrones’ is to Bruce Wayne. This divides the Avengers along ideological lines which plays right into the hands of Sokovian villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) whose family was collateral damage in last year’s battle against Ultron. (A plot coincidentally similar to this year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” if you’re keeping score.)
At two and a half hours it sometimes feels longish but that’s the consequence of servicing such a mega-ensemble. Back are Iron Man (the magnificent Robert Downey, Jr.), skipper (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) … just about everyone except Thor and the Hulk. This one also introduces Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and reboots Spider-Man (Tom Holland) as Tony Stark’s protégé, which makes for interesting banter. Peter Parker: “It’s Spider-MAN.” Stark: “Not in that onesie it’s not.”
“Captain America: Civil War” is everything you expect from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), fun, action and great effects from beginning to end, and, of course, an epic Stan Lee cameo.
“Captain America: Civil War” is Marvel’s 13th film … and that’s just this year. With so many superhero flicks, it feels like it, anyway. Yet there are still legions yet to receive the big screen treatment. To borrow from Red Buttons, some of the greatest movie heroes, people who, without them, the movie-going experience just wouldn’t be the same, never got a picture.
Dom Swenson, the Cineplex employee who was first to fill the popcorn-tub halfway and add butter before topping-it off… never got a picture.
Elaine Cobb, the loan officer at the credit union who arranged financing so a family of four could afford one of the concession combos … never got a picture.
Mitch O’Malley, who was called back from his break to dispense beer because he was the only employee ‘legal’ … never got a picture.
Raymond Weir, who maintained a straight face even when the 100th customer of the night asked him if the 3D glasses let them see things in 3D outside of the theater, too … never got a picture.
And, Rebekka Del Vecchio, the theater manager, who had to begrudgingly tell a group of teens to stop texting during the film knowing she would get backlash the next day in school, especially because it was with her they were texting … never got a picture.