CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, WHAT WAS MISSING?
The thing I was looking forward to most in Captain America Civil War was to see two heroes that I love turn on each other. The trailer lead me to believe there were going to be several moments where I feel bad for Tony Stark, even though I would clearly be on Steve Roger’s side because, well, he’s Captain America. There is a moment in the trailer where Steve says “You know I wouldn't do this Tony, but he's my friend.” Then Tony replies, “So was I.” The first time I saw the preview I literally clutched my heart at that line. Tony looked so hurt. It looked as if it wasn’t the first thing Steve has said that stung. I wanted to know what made Steve, the nicest guy in the world say mean things to Tony. I fully expected both Tony and Steve to say hurtful things to each other, because people say stupid things when they are mad. However, that isn't really what I saw. The story was weak to say the least. There was so much potential for this movie to show that universal theme of friendship and betrayal. They may be super, but they are still human and susceptible to the same problems as everyone else.
I wanted to feel for both sides. I expected to see a friendship fall apart over time, but instead I simply saw two people who had a simple disagreement and it wasn't even really over the accord. Iron Man’s team believed Bucky was guilty and needed to be arrested. Captain America’s team knew that Bucky was innocent, and that there was a crazy guy out there who needed to be stopped. That was the disagreement. It could have very easily been solved by communicating with one another. I kept waiting for Steve to say, "the psychologist we sent to evaluate Bucky is evil!" If that was all they were fighting about it seemed like a pretty easy fix. The only reason I could see for them not trying to talk about it was if they were too angry to talk. Even then, you think that Steve would have at least TRIED to tell Tony. He just kept being vague like, "you don't know what you're doing Tony." I was thinking, then tell him you idiot!
If Bucky had never been involved in this movie, they would have just disagreed on whether or not they should be “reigned in” by a government entity. Then when they showed all of the collateral damage that they caused, Steve could have just said, “the american government's solution was to nuke New York and kill 8.4 million people and you are saying we need to be reigned in because we couldn’t save everyone? They would have all died if you had done it your way.” That is the big problem here. Other than Bucky, Tony had no good motivation. The reasons they shouldn’t sign those documents greatly outweighed the reasons he thought they should. Steve never even told Tony what he told Wanda about how they do the best they can, but they can’t save everyone. He says, "we try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn't mean everybody. But if we can't find a way to live with that, next time... maybe nobody gets saved." Instead the argument goes like this, Tony says “we need to be reined in” and Steve says, “if I see something going south, I'm going to help.” That's it Cap'? You aren't going to explain more? How can either of them be so angry about that little disagreement that they would fight? Now picture if Tony said, “we need to be reined in,” and Steve responded with “that's pretty hypocritical coming from the man who created a hyper-intelligent robot who tried to destroy the world.” Tony would respond with, “I know, I screwed up, but that is what I am talking about we need to be reigned in.” Steve would say, “I’ve never created the problems, Tony. I just try to help clean them up. I’m not signing that agreement because you decided to play God and it backfired.” If Steve Rogers reminded Tony that he's responsible for what happened in Sekovia THAT would have hurt Tony was already grappling with the pain of knowing that he caused those deaths and then to have good wholesome Steve Rogers validate his insecurities would really sting. Then Tony could have told Steve, “You’re right Steve I forgot you’re Captain America, you don’t make mistakes. Oh wait, except for that time you helped a fugitive responsible for the murder of innocent people escape arrest.” Steve would reply, “the man who killed those people wasn’t Buck, Tony. He was brainwashed.” Then Tony would say, “I think there is a conflict of interest Cap', I don’t think you have the best judgement when it comes to Buck. Bucky, your friend, doesn't exist anymore Hydra turned him into a monster and you’re defending that monster.”
The scenario I just laid out is so much stronger than their actual argument. Everyone was still friends when they fought. Wanda knocked Natasha back and told Clint he was pulling his punches. But the truth is, they were all pulling their punches. None of them were fighting as hard as they could because they didn’t want to hurt their friends. The fight was fine, that action was awesome and the dialogue was hilarious. It fit perfectly with the style of the Marvel cinematic universe, but it could have been so much better. It would have held much higher stakes if their was actual discord between the friends. Instead of two friends who didn’t see eye to eye, we could have had two men who were no longer friends.
The fight between Steve and Tony in the end made a lot more sense because Tony was hurt that Steve never told him Bucky killed his parents, but the moment would have been much more powerful if their friendship had already been damaged. That way, when he finds out Steve kept this thing from him it would be salt on an already open wound. Tony and Steve’s fight began long before they were asked to sign that agreement with the UN. It began in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Steve says, “I don’t know what she showed you, I just know it made you do something stupid.” when talking about the Maximoff girl messing with their minds. Tony follows that by saying, “It seems like you walked away ok,” implying that Steve doesn’t have any pain for her to use against him. That moment when they are chopping wood and arguing was more passionate than any discussion they had during Civil War, which is why I felt that dynamic between them was so obviously lacking in this movie.
The movies proceeding Captain America: Civil War gave us much more of the emotional pull this movie was lacking. They had moments that were so intense it gave me goose bumps. That's what set the previous two captain america movies on a different level than the other movies; the relationships. In Captain America: The First Avenger we meet Steve and Bucky, best friends. Then we watch as Steve loses Bucky and it is painful. Steve also meets Peggy. She has the opportunity see Steve’s character as he works so hard to keep up with the soldiers before he becomes enhanced. A fake grenade is thrown toward the soldiers and Steve throws himself on it to protect everyone else. I believe that Peggy started to fall in love with little Steve long before he was Captain America. Then in the same movie you watch as Steve loses Peggy too. He sacrifices himself to save everyone else. We have the extremely tender moment between him and Peggy as he tells her that he can’t wait to have that dance.
Steve has been dealing with heartache ever since we’ve known him. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier we get even more of these goose bump inducing moments, like Steve going to visit Peggy. While he's talking to her she looks at him as if she is seeing him for the first time since she lost him in the war. She begins to cry and says, “It’s been so long.” Imagine waking up to find that everyone you have ever known is dead only to then find out the person you love is still alive but she is old and dying. Then to watch her discover him again and again and see the pain in her face as she thinks of all the time they lost.
Another great moment in Winter Soldier was when Bucky fights Steve at the end. Steve says “I'm not going to fight you, you’re my friend.” He drops his shield and Bucky attacks him. Steve tells Buck, “Then finish it, because I'm with you to the end of the line.” Nothing in Captain America: Civil War made me feel as heartbroken as that moment in “The Winter Soldier.” After thinking he lost his friend back in the war, he finds out he is still alive. Someone he had grieved is back from the dead. Unfortunately he spent the past 70 years as a prisoner of war who had been brainwashed to become a killing machine. Oh yeah, and he can't remember you. So in the end of the second Captain America movie we see Steve, once again, willing to sacrifice himself for someone he cares about, this time for Bucky.
There was ample opportunity for these heart wrenching moments in Civil War, but for some reason the Russo brothers didn't capitalize on them. We do get to see Steve carrying Peggy’s casket at her funeral. That's the type of moment I wanted to see more frequently throughout the movie. There was no real powerful moment between Steve and Bucky. They talked about old times a little bit, newspaper in your shoes and that girl you used to take dancing etc. But nothing like “I'm with you to the end of the line.”
The moment that came closest was when Tony Stark asks Buck, “do you even remember them?” referencing his parents who were killed by the Winter Soldier. Buck replies, “I remember all of them.” The pain in his eyes while he thought of all the people he killed and hadn't wanted to... that is the kind of emotion this movie needed more of. Because a civil war is messy. You don’t start a civil war over a petty argument, it only happens when there is a divide so strong that it would put friends and family against each other. Their disagreement on whether to sign the papers or not just wasn’t enough. I could see Captain America being very understanding of Tony, even forgiving him for wanting to put Bucky in jail because he didn’t know that Bucky was innocent. But if Tony had told Steve that he blames Bucky for all of those deaths, even though he was brainwashed, he would have effectively betrayed their friendship. And if you betray Steve, he won’t feel so bad about punching you in the face.