film

Marvel’s Civil War: Should we be worried?

 Spoilers for Batman V Superman follow

In the wake of Warner Brothers’ box office hit ‘Batman V Superman’ the next big comic book movie showdown is between Marvel Studios’ most bankable sons, Steve Rogers AKA Captain America and Tony Stark’s Iron Man. However with all of the hype and excitement preceding DC’s showdown between gods with capes and the subsequent critical downpour from movie reviewers across the board the question worth asking is, will Marvel befall the same blunders and windfall of dollars that Warner’s prized combatants did? And more importantly, if the fans embrace it does it matter what the general audience, or critics, think?

You can bet Marvel Studios is watching the release of their competition like a hawk. Why wouldn’t they? This is, after all, two of the biggest brand name superheroes of all time engaging in fisticuffs on the silver screen and it just so happens to come right before Marvel is releasing their own Superhero slamfest in May. Below I will list and explain the five reasons why I believe that Marvel Studios will come out of their superhero brawl with less bruises than than DC did. To be fair, I do prefer Marvel’s storytelling style (comics, cartoons, and films) over DC’s, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy DC’s characters. I’m a fan of all the Justice League members and have been known to dig into the Justice League Dark comics and I enjoy a good Constantine comic every now and then as well. I just love good storytelling, but preference is preference and my bias does lean towards Marvel. Nothing has to be black and white though, there can be shades of passion and indifference alike. Here are my reasons I believe Marvel’s Civil War will fair better than Batman V Superman.

1 An established universe

Marvel’s established world has an emotional core that’s been building for twelve movies now. The film ‘Civil War’ will have an easier time threading an emotional story arc for both Iron Man and Captain America than the comic did because this version of the Marvel Universe stands on these two characters shoulders. We were initially introduced to this world through the eyes of Tony Stark, we’ve been with him as he’s grown and advanced as a character and as a hero. While the other perspective of this film comes from Steve Rogers, a character that I believe has the strongest films to date within the MCU.  It’s a battle of idealogies as Rogers represents the classical ideals that comes with American values, while Stark on the other hand reps Modern American ideals, realizing that the way we’ve been doing things isn’t always the right thing. These are two very different personalities that have evolved over time and we’ve witnessed them chart this course from the very beginning. This fact alone allows the filmmakers to connect their characters to the audience with ease.

2 With friends like these..

None of the MCU’s movies have been as divisive as either ‘Man of Steel’ or ‘Batman V Superman’. Sure, there have been a few Marvel misfires (I’m looking at you Iron Man 2 & Thor) that haven’t quite hit the mark, but they were still valuable entertainment and received nowhere near the vitriol from critics and fans alike. Furthermore Marvel has taken virtually unknown comic properties like ‘Guardians of The Galaxy’, or unexpected characters like ‘Ant-Man’, and made them work far better than anyone thought possible. Marvel has done the opposite of the DC film universe so far, forging science fiction morality tales that often have a great deal of focus on the characters in play. DC has incredible characters of Godly ability but instead focus on the weight of that power and all the brooding that, apparently, comes with that.

3 One story, not several

Civil War is being adapted from one comic book arc, not several storylines like ‘Batman V Superman’. The man of steel’s second outing tried to cram many aspects of Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and ‘The Death of Superman’ into this adaption while earning neither’s acomplishments in storytelling because of the narrative context of comics compared to how this film universe has been set up. By that I mean that the comics had the advantage contextually by the very nature of the medium that allows for months of storylines to come together piece by piece, however when taking the two incredibly different timelines that ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and ‘The Death of Superman’ inhabit and try to mesh them together it simply doesn’t hold up thematically. The representation of Superman in both storylines are widely different from each other for one, and ‘The Death of Superman’ was built on decades of lore and had to do more to traverse its goal of actually killing Superman (Which we all now know he was put into a “healing coma”). Marvel’s Civil War, while having to adapt the story to fit their continuity obsessed film universe together, does have an easier time as it’s attempting to adapt one, albiet massive, storyline.

4 Truer to the source material

Marvel Studios is creating a more faithful rendition of their characters than DC. Yes they are putting a more modern spin on their characters and the world they inhabit, but they are doing so in a consistently faithful series of decisions. DC is also attempting to insert their heroes into the world of today, but Marvel seems to be paying attention to the core personalities of their heroes that transcend whatever adaption they may be currently going through. This doesn’t mean that each film has to have every other scene ripped from the pages of ‘Astonishing Tales’ or anything like that, but it is nice to notice the spirit of the characters inhabiting the performances onscreen.

5 High stakes fun

Marvel has a proven track record of setting the stakes of any narrative to a high, or dramatic, degree for an appropriate payout in the end while maintaining a ‘fun’ atmosphere about the project. ‘The Avengers’, ‘Winter Soldier’, and ‘Guardians of The Galaxy’ all excel at this notion while other films don’t always nail this beat, even ‘Ant-Man’ performed well by making Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang a relatable character. At the end of the day, Scott’s just a divorced dad trying to maintain a relationship with his daughter by any means necessary. Civil War in itself will only reiterate this idea by incorporating side characters like Spider-man and Ant-Man into the picture for an unattached perspective allowing for the quips that Stark himself may be too preoccupied for this go around. It seems to me that Marvel knows how to pull those emotive strings in all of us, while not falling into any one tone or mood too heavily.

‘Captain America three: Civil War’ will undoubtedly make big money at the box office just as ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ did. It stands to prove that the critics voice in all of this means nothing to longtime fans that will watch and rewatch this film. For some simply see the trinity together onscreen is enough, or Darkseid’s emblem emblazoned in Batman’s sweaty paranoia nightmare sequence, the point being that while the film has its flaws it also has a core audience that adores it. Just as with any review or discussion on film in the end it all really comes down to subjectivity. We all like different things, we all enjoy different films, bands or musicians, sports teams,  or political candidates. This is fine, this is good. We need diversity in our entertainment, so it’s great to see both Marvel and DC creating entirely different approaches to the superhero genre, if everything were the same, we’d all forgo it after a few years anyways.

I do, however, believe that Marvel has it in them to deliver a more positively received film than ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ based on the creative crews behind both sets of films and from the world building groundwork that has been done by both studios. Marvel’s done more legwork to get where they are today than DC in terms of their current shared universes, and they have a consistent world they have built and people have a good general idea of what to expect. As Guardians of The Galaxy, and hopefully Doctor Strange in November, proved they can take smaller properties and keep their formula from becoming stagnant in a world of many, many, superhero films coming out over the next few years. So, no, I don’t believe its time to sell all our Marvel Studios stock just yet. In the link below I’ve included a fun supercut of Marvel Studios films leading up to ‘Captain America Three: Civil War’ Enjoy!

Road to Civil War: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cR6Xa6fEAg

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7 thoughts on “Marvel’s Civil War: Should we be worried?

  1. I have better reasons:

    1. The same directors who did the critically highly acclaimed Winter Soldier
    2. The same writing team which is responsible for the whole Captain America Franchise, which is the best in the MCU (unless GotG keeps hitting it out of the ballpark).
    3. No warning signs. When Warner delayed the movie for one year, ensured that it was released in all countries at once and kept the critics quiet as long as it is possible without raising suspicions, my warning bells started to ring. Marvel will start screening the movie next week, and it will be out in Europe one week before the US…in some countries they changed the released date to earlier after the test screenings. Which tells me that they firmly believe that they can create a lot of positive buzz in advance by showing off a good movie.
    4. Actors, who are comfortable in the roles they play.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I stand by my reasoning though. You raise some good issues, however I don’t consider them “better” because this isn’t a competition, rather a conversation. I was structuring my argument around the comparable universes of Marvel and DC and how Civil War will an easier time adapting the story that they are aiming to tell than the creative team behind Batman V Superman based on the content they were trying to mesh together. They achieved a film in the end, but it was a sloppily told tale.
      The MCU is a well oiled machine at this point so you’re right to be excited that the creative team behind the best parts of the Captain America movies are involved, I didn’t touch on the pre/post production side of things but it goes to my point that they’ve been doing this for a lot longer and have the advantage in many ways by doing so, I was more focused on how that gives them an advantage storytelling wise.
      It is also true that most of the actors in Marvel’s Civil War will know these characters inside and out by now, but in the context of ‘Why this will work better than Batman V Superman did’ that argument doesn’t hold up in my opinion as the performances in BVS were not among the larger issues with the movie, sans Lex Luthor.
      You also mentioned Studio meddling with dates as a warning sign, yes, I agree. Very glad I haven’t seen Marvel whisking away their blockbuster just cause the, or any, competition is in town. This didn’t really fit the mold for the argument I was creating, but I hear you on that one.
      We all hope for quality content in our movies though so hopefully they improve by having the healthy competition of outdoing each other!

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      1. Guess I meant “better” more in the sense of “Additional”, but I hear you.
        My point was less that Marvel is not reacting to what Warner Bros does, and more that they make no effort to hide the movie. Warner Bros did this “we hype the movie, control the critics as long as possible without making the audience suspicious, show it to a selected audience which is predisposed to praise it no matter what and then make as much money as possible before the bad reviews spread” thing. A lot of the money they did were the result of pre-sales. Marvel on the other hand wants to create hype by showing the movie. If it’s not good, the bad reviews from Europe will hit and ruin the domestic box office. But obviously Marvel is confident that the opposite will happen.

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      2. Oh I’m right there with you, Marvel is on a hot streak and they’re definitely not feeling the anxiety that Warner Bros was/might be feeling now. When they changed opening weekends right after Marvel dropped their Civil War into that weekend, that action definitely held some weight to it.

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      3. I don’t get why they picked the weekend in the first place. While Marvel hadn’t announced which movie they intended to show, they had already blocked the weekend for “a Marvel movie” when Warner Bros moved BvS to it. And you know that the May release is the big block buster Marvel is sure will make a lot of money, while the second release is the “experiment” which will hopefully work out fine (again).

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      4. Yeah, that was an odd choice for Warner Bros to make right from the beginning. Seems like they thought they could tango with the Marvel Machine, until they realized either A: Oh you mean almost all of the Avengers are in this AND it’s adapted from an incredibly popular comic book? Or B: they watched the dailies from BVS and decided they didn’t want to compete and lose that much money to Marvel haha.

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