In 2016, we saw the release of two superhero movies where the good guys fought each other while the main villain conjures up some maniacal scheme to destroy them. The first was Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the second film after Man Of Steel that’s supposed to set up Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe, released in March 25. The second was Captain America: Civil War, the thirteenth film from Marvel Studios that begins Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, released on May 6. These were the most highly anticipated films of the year in the geek community and how did they turn out? Well, let’s find out.
So let’s get a couple of things out the way first. I’m a huge fan of both DC and Marvel, so I have no biases for or against them. Choosing between them would be like a parent having to choose between their children, I love both companies equally for what they’ve done for comics. Whenever I criticize them, it’s not out of spite, but out of passion and wanting them to put out good product. Although you’ll might notice that in this post, I’ll be criticizing one more than the other, which leads into the next thing: can we all just admit that Captain America: Civil War is an overall better movie and can we also admit that Batman v Superman is not a good movie? To explain why, I’m gonna have to break things down and talk about the elements of each movie and let you know what works and what doesn’t. But before we do that, I have to warn you.
Now that you’ve been warned, let’s start things off with…
Captain America: Civil War- Based loosely on the Civil War comic, the world’s governments are concerned with superheroes with no oversight after an incident in Lagos where the Avengers unintentionally caused collateral damage. Thus, they’ve decided to pass the Sokovia Accords, a bill that requires all superheroes to register with the government and work for them. The Avengers themselves are divided on this bill with Iron Man on board because he felt guilty about all of the stuff that has happened. Captain America, on the other hand, is against the bill because it would place restrictions on them and the governments would decide who and what the threats are. This creates tension in the team and it’s made worse by a UN bombing that killed King T’Chaka of Wakanda and the Winter Soldier is the main suspect. Now Cap is on a mission to prove his innocence while dealing with the Sokovia Accords and a new threat. This is a much more focused plot that’s easy to follow. It does take its detours, but none of them feels like pointless filler, it all serves a purpose in the grand scheme of the film.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice- Eighteen months after the events of Man Of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure while he still does his heroic duties. Batman sees him as a threat and Superman shares the same feelings about Batman. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor plans to use the Kryptonian technology that was left behind in the wake of the attack on Metropolis for some evil scheme that involves pitting Batman and Superman against each other and also Zod’s dead body. The plot of this film goes for big epic bombast, but it didn’t earn it. There was WAY too many detours that are ultimately distracting and makes it harder for you to be invested. Every dumb moment of this film can be blamed on David Goyer.
This will be split into two categories: the heroes and the villains. Let’s start with the good guys.
Captain America: Civil War- We got ourselves an all-star cast here with a lot of superheroes, more so than any comic book film. 4 out of the 6 original Avengers are present, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye (Thor is off in Asgard for his third film and the Hulk… who knows where he’s at?), plus Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Vision, Ant-Man, and the MCU debuts of both Black Panther and (get ready to scream like a fangirl) SPIDER-MAN!!
All of these characters were great and the actors portray them well. You understand their motivations perfectly. As usual, Chris Evans is great as Captain America, it’s amazing to think that we all thought this casting choice was a bad idea when Marvel was doing the first Captain America movie.
All Cap wants to do is help people and keep them safe and he feels the Accords would hurt them in the long run. As he said in the movie, the safest hands are still their own. On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr. perfectly portrays a worn down Tony Stark fed up with the shit hitting the fan every time he tries to fix something (like creating Ultron, who tried to turn a city into a meteor and use it to wipe out mankind) and he feels the Avengers would be better off with government oversight. And then Bucky, played by Sebastian Stan, gets mixed up and is wanted by everyone and Cap wants to protect him and prove his innocence. Speaking of Bucky, he gets a lot more character development in this film than in The Winter Soldier where he was an emotionless pawn. He regrets the things he did as the Winter Soldier and he fears that he could be brainwashed again. We also have Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa A.K.A. Black Panther and he’s one of the best characters in the movie with his portrayal done justice.
He wants to kill Bucky because of the UN bombing that I mentioned earlier where his father died. But by the end of the movie, he learns that vengeance isn’t worth it. I’m now even more hyped for the Black Panther movie. Now we have to talk about Spider-Man. It’s official: Tom Holland is the best live-action version of Spider-Man to date, even better than Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire.
No joke. This kid nailed it as a teenage Peter Parker with all the awkwardness and geekness that Peter is and as Spider-Man, he does the funny quips while in battle. And he geeks out when he sees other superheroes like they’re celebrities (Ant-Man dos the same thing as well). Not a fan of his suit being CGed, but that’s just a minor nitpick. Still a great character and a comic book-accurate portrayal at last.
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice- No matter how you feel about this film, you have to admit that it has an impressive cast and they do a good job for the most part with what they were given. Henry Cavill is a pretty good Superman. He’s no Christopher Reeve, but he’s fine. All he wants to do is help people, but thanks to a lot of collateral damage (and breaking Kryptonian necks), the public is afraid of him. He tries again and again to be on everyone’s good side, but it doesn’t always go well. Ben Affleck is an older, more seasoned Bruce Wayne who’s been through some shit.
While I like Affleck’s Batman way more than Christian Bale’s, I can’t say that he’s the best Batman (no, that title goes to Kevin Conroy). While we’re talking about Batman, can we please stop letting Batman kill in these movies? Seems like every live-action version of Batman that isn’t Adam West or from the Schumacher films has killed someone, intentionally or not. Jeremy Irons is a great Alfred Pennyworth. His scenes with Bruce are some of the bright points of the movie. While he is supportive of him and he does provide assistance, he’s not afraid to check him and his backhanded comments were legitimately funny. I want to see more Alfred in future DC movies.
There was a lot of concern about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman because, well… she didn’t have Wonder Woman’s physique and she had little acting experience. Funny enough, she was one of the best characters in the film. She’s beautiful, mysterious, and a total badass. Her scenes with Ben Affleck were excellent. I’m so looking forward to her solo film (pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood). When I saw this film in theaters, people applauded when she showed up and she didn’t fail to deliver. I did not care for Lois Lane at all. She’s one of my least favorite comic book characters ever and this film shows why. She always finds a way to get herself in trouble, whether it be at the beginning when she gets captured by those African terrorists or when she idiotically throws the Kryptonite spear into the water during the final battle (which I’ll talk about later) only realizing “Oh, shit. That spear was important.” and she dives back into the water and nearly drowns, having to be saved by Superman… again. It’s not Amy Adams’ fault, she was given a shit character to play. Oh, her and Clark have NO chemistry. ZERO. Every moment they’re together gives me flashbacks to those awkward romance moments in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. I hated the forced romance in Man Of Steel, I hated it in this film as well. Moving on to the bad guys.
Captain America: Civil War- One of the main criticisms of the MCU movies is that their villains are weak, which is kinda true, but that’s because the rights to some of Marvel’s best villains are stuck at Fox. Let’s briefly talk about Crossbones. For those who didn’t know, he was the STRIKE team guy in The Winter Soldier who was revealed to be a mole for Hydra. He was severely injured during the climax when a Helicarrier fell onto the Triskelion, which is why he wears that suit. Anyways, he’s pretty much the appetizer before the real threat comes, stealing a deadly bio-weapon in Lagos and the Avengers have to stop him. He ends up dying in a suicide bombing attempt that Scarlet Witch tried to avert, but it ended up causing collateral damage. Now for the main villain, Helmut Zemo or as he’s best known in the comics, Baron Zemo. This is one of the most drastic character changes ever for a comic book movie. To show you what I mean, here’s Zemo in the comics.
And here is Zemo in the movie.
Outside of not wearing an over-sized purple sock over his head, the movie version of Zemo is a completely different character. Instead of being a power-hungry maniac who wants to take over the world and is the leader of the Masters Of Evil, he’s a former Sokovian soldier whose family died during the events of Age Of Ultron and now, he wants revenge against the Avengers. He may not be the best villain character-wise, but his motivation makes him unique. He doesn’t want world domination, money, or the Infinity Stones, he just wants to tear the Avengers apart and make them pay for what happened in Sokovia. He caused the bombing at the UN and made it look like Bucky did it, then he digs up a book that contained trigger words used to brainwash Bucky and turned him against the team when he got captured. And he succeeds because at the end of the movie, the Avengers have been splintered. Even though he was eventually put in prison, Zemo won and that’s why I think he’s one of the best MCU villains because he defeated the Avengers without throwing a punch.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice- ……………. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
Look, I got nothing against the guy. He’s an okay actor, but… how do I describe his performance as Lex Luthor? How can I put it? ……… *deep breath*
This is one of the worst portrayals of a classic villain EVER and last year, Fox turned Doctor Doom into a stupid-looking crash test dummy with green energy. Did the people making this movie NOT get Luthor? He’s a cool, calculated, manipulative supergenius, not this punk-ass, awkward-looking , twitching lovechild of Mark Zuckerberg and The Riddler from Batman Forever. There is no way in the Nine Realms of Asgard that I’m going to believe that this dweeb is supposed to be Superman’s arch-nemesis, let alone, one of the best villains in comics. I get that this is supposed to be a new interpretation of this classic character, but this is not the right way to do it. It’s not just that he doesn’t look the part, he doesn’t act the part, either. His motivations suck, too. He hates Superman because… he thinks Superman is God and he’s pissed because God apparently didn’t do anything about his Daddy issues. And his plans doesn’t make sense. He wants to obtain access to the crashed Kryptonian ship because reasons. Somehow, he knows Superman’s secret identity (as well as other superheroes), so he captures his mom and hold her hostage in order to force him into fighting Batman to the death for some reason and when that plan failed, he had a plan B, which was using his own DNA and Zod’s body to create Doomsday.
Yep. That butt-fugly, badly CGed glob of what happens if a rock troll fucked one of the Ninja Turtles and had their baby is supposed to be Doomsday.
Anyways, Doomsday shows up to be the generic CGI monster that Batman and Superman have to defeat (along with Wonder Woman). I’ll talk more about the climax of Batman v Superman in the next category.
Captain America: Civil War- My God, the action in this movie is amazing. There is some shaky cam in the first act that’s bound to make some viewers nauseous, but it gets better and it reaches a point where that’s not an issue. Outside of the shaky cam, great action sequences and great stunt work, especially the Lagos scene. The airport fight is one of the best fight scenes in a comic book movie. You have 12 superheroes in teams of 6 clashing against each other. Every character has a moment to shine to show off their abilities and we also get some funny banter. One big standout was Ant-Man.
And a recreation of this classic scene from Avengers #223.
If you’re somebody who loves comic books and superheroes, the airport fight scene is a sight to behold. A great blend of stunts and CG effects. And of course, there’s the climax where instead of a fight against the villain (like most movies), we get another fight between the heroes. Cap, Bucky, and Iron Man are at an old Hydra facility searching for Zemo and when they find him, he shows a video that reveals that Bucky was responsible for the death of Tony’s parents. With this revelation (plus, Cap knew about it and didn’t bother telling him), Tony looks at Bucky and is like, “I’m gonna kill this motherfucker.” Thus, it’s Captain America and Winter Soldier versus Iron Man. Not only is this another great action scene, it’s also one of the most heartbreaking and suspenseful. There’s a lot of emotional weight in this scene more than any others in previous films and you understand why they feel the way they feel. Cap wants to protect his friend while Iron Man is pissed because Cap’s best friend killed his parents and Cap knew about it. You’re not even sure who to stand with and you want them to not kill each other (which almost happens). At the end of the battle, Cap disables Iron Man’s suit and leaves with Bucky.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice- When you have Zack Snyder directing, you’re guaranteed to have some good visuals and in terms of the action, Batman v Superman delivers for the most part, but it’s not as strong as Civil War’s action and I’ll explain why shortly. Every action sequence with just Batman was amazing like when he was trying to steal the Kryptonite from a bunch of thugs working for LexCorp in the Batmobile (even though he murdered a bunch of dudes). But the best one has to be when he went to rescue Superman’s mom from a warehouse filled with Lex’s lackeys. On a serious note, why couldn’t Superman just go and rescue her himself? He has super strength and speed, he can just burst in and save her in the blink of an eye. It’s not like he can’t sense her since he can detect Lois in danger from millions of miles away. My God, this movie is stupid. Sorry. Getting sidetracked. Anyways, Batman goes in to the warehouse and what follows is an action sequence that looks straight out of the Arkham games. It’s amazing. Now for the scenes that were supposed to be important: Batman vs Superman and the DC Trinity vs
the Ninja Turtle/rock troll hybrid Doomsday.
Let’s talk about the fight between the two titular characters and how dumb and underwhelming it was. Batman is dressed up in the bulky armored suit you see in the picture above as he gets ready to fight Superman in Gotham City. Superman tries to talk to Batman and convince him to help rescue his mom (seriously, why couldn’t YOU do it, you red and blue idiot?), but Batman is too much of an idiot to listen and the fight begins. It seems like Superman has the advantage as he tries to knock some sense into Batman, but then he get weakened by Kryptonite and Batman gains the upper hand, which further proves that unless he has a way to either weaken him or match his power, Batman doesn’t stand a chance in hell in a one-on-one fight against Superman. Unlike Captain America and Iron Man’s fight, this one has no emotional weight and unless you’re one of those people who just wants to see Batman and Superman fight each other, you’re not gonna care. And the fight ends because both their moms happen to share the same name, Martha. Batman was so close to killing Superman until the name Martha comes up and when Lois shows up to explain that it’s his mother’s name, they then become instant BFFs.
Now for the battle against Doomsday. It’s a standard final battle with enough CGI and destruction to make Michael Bay cum volcanoes. Wonder Woman kicked ass as I expected her to do while Batman uses Kryponite to weaken the beast and Superman does his thing. Outside of Wonder Woman, there’s not much to be invested in. Oh, and Superman dies. Of course that’s gonna happen when you bring in Doomsday. I think they shouldn’t have done that THIS early in the second movie of the DCEU. They should’ve at least waited until a much later movie when everything is set up to do this. It’d be much better to see a more established Superman fight for his life to protect the ones he loves against Doomsday and see how his death affects the entire superhero community. Then his sacrifice would have more meaning. Because they pulled this card too early, when he comes back to life in a future film (which will happen), he won’t be at any risk and audiences won’t be concerned for him. DC, you fucked up once again. Shame on you.
Captain America: Civil War- This movie is based on the Civil War comic, but only by name. Elements from the story are borrowed like the themes, the Superhuman Registration Act, and superheroes fighting each other, but this is a completely different beast and it’s for the better because let’s be honest, the Civil War comic is terrible, mainly because the characters are assholes with Captain America being a man-child and Iron Man acting like a villain, locking up superheroes and teaming up with villains. The changes made for the film makes it much better. With less characters to focus on, the film doesn’t feel overcrowded in spite of its cast and every character acted like their logical selves. Oh, and at the end of the Civil War comic, Captain America dies. That doesn’t happen in the movie and I’m fine with it. Just like comics, the MCU has been inconsistent when it comes to death. Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, and Pepper Potts died and came back to life while Quicksilver stayed dead. There wouldn’t have been any point in killing off Captain America in the Civil War movie, especially when he’ll be in Infinity War. This is one of the few times where drastically drifting from the source material works.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice- One of the main inspirations of Batman v Superman is The Dark Knight Returns, a four-issue miniseries from Frank Miller that tells the story of an older Batman who comes out of retirement to fight crime again. He gains a new Robin, is considered a threat by the police and the government, and at the climax of the story, he fights Superman. It’s one of the most important comics of all time as not only did it made Batman popular again and changed the public’s perception of the character from Adam West’s campy version, but it (alongside Watchmen) made people take comic books more seriously and paved the way for more dark, gritty characters that would be popular in the 90s. Honestly, seeing what went down in Batman v Superman, them fighting each other doesn’t make sense. It made sense in TDKR because Superman and Batman knew each other well and their ideologies clashed with one another (plus, there’s also the fact that Superman is working with the government, who doesn’t like Batman). We don’t see that clash of ideologies in this film, they fight because of Lex Luthor. *sighs* Oh, and the third act was inspired by the Death Of Superman story-line. I already said everything I needed to say about that.
There’s no other way to say it; Marvel is kicking DC’s ass in terms of live-action movies set in the same universe. You can only cling to the Dark Knight trilogy for so long, you gotta make improvements. Civil War is just a much better-written, better directed, better-paced, and more competently put-together movie and is another example of Marvel Studios having more love and passion for their films than any big studios now trying to copy their strategy. Even their weaker films have some effort put into them. Plus, the themes of accountability and collateral damage are handled much better than Batman v Superman, which tries the same thing, but it amounts to nothing. And in terms of superheroes fighting each other, it makes much more sense in Civil War since there’s been twelve previous films that developed these characters who we care about and building up to these events. With Batman v Superman, there’s no proper buildup since there was only Man Of Steel, a very divisive film that set the stage for further development, but since Warner Bros. desperately wanted to catch up with Marvel, they put all their eggs in one basket with the second film and ended up with a cluttered mess. “Hey, let’s throw in some cameos from The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg to build up for the Justice League movie.” Well, I’ll give them this: while Batman v Superman isn’t good, it’s not a terrible movie and it’s far from one of the worst comic book movies of recent memory.
I’m tired of seeing DC constantly fucking up while Marvel remains on top. I want them both to win with great movies based on iconic comic book characters so that when someone asks me who had the better comic book movies in a year, I’ll be unsure because they were both great. DC, you need a new strategy in making these films because whatever it is you’re doing isn’t working and is hurting your box office performances and the critics aren’t impressed. The only way you’ll succeed is if you do your own thing and not try to copy Marvel. You better pray to God that Suicide Squad is good because that’ll be your third strike if it isn’t and if you fuck up Wonder Woman’s first solo live-action film, I will never forgive you. Marvel, keep doing what you’re doing because you’ve been hitting them out of the park. I can’t wait for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, etc., and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Russos do for Infinity War.
For those wondering what rating I would give each movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is a 5/10. Every moment of awesome in that film is countered by at least two moments of pure stupidity. It’s a shame, really. Captain America: Civil War, on the other hand, gets a 10/10. This is the best Marvel movie period, even better than Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and The Avengers. No movie is perfect, but this comes pretty damn close. That’s all for now.