The title says it all. Just like everyone else on the planet, I recently saw Captain America: Civil War, but while watching it, I realized that it not only strayed pretty far from the comic books, but it had more in common with another movie, Team America: World Police. Right off the shield I can tell you that even the title Captain AMERICA parallels the movie it’s pulling plot points from by taking the “America” from Team America. It’s right there in plain sight.
(WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the comic book and the movie!)
All jokes aside, though, Captain America: Civil War really does have more in common with Team America: World Police than the actual Marvel comic book on which it's based. To start off, the reason for the civil war in the comic books is completely different. The real reason for the fight was over a new government policy called the “Superhuman Registration Act”, which, as you could probably guess, is an act that makes superheroes have to register as who they are and make their secret identities public. The movie gets it right when they have Captain America and Iron Man leading teams on opposing sides, as well as Captain America’s criminal status ending and Iron Man still being in the good graces of the government, but that’s about where the similarities end.
Spider-Man, for movie business reasons, was underused in his actual movie role. At first, Spider-Man is all for the act and publically reveals his identity at Iron Man’s behest; however, later on he realizes he’s made a grave mistake and switches sides. It is debatable that Spider-Man’s actions drive the escalation of the story more and shows more confliction than Captain America or Iron Man ever could. But that’s enough about the comic book. Let’s get down to business on how this is like Team America...
To begin, the whole reason why Civil War occurs is because of all the collateral damage the Avengers have dished out in their missions, ultimately causing the deaths of many of the innocent people they meant to save. Sound familiar? If not, this clip below can explain it all:
Above is just an example of the unintended carnage Team America has unleashed on the people they are trying to protect. This opening scene is even quite similar to the one in Civil War. You could even argue that the death of Crossbones in the beginning of Civil War shows how similar the beginnings actually are. The main plot of Team America, however, is that they want to take out now-deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il for all of the terrorism he is behind in other countries attacking America. We don’t have that in Civil War, but what we do have is the fact that the American government and the people hate the Avengers for the damage they’ve done and the innocent lives they’ve taken. This roadblock is present in both movies in the same way.
Then it comes down to the characters. It’s true that Captain America: Civil War focuses more on Iron Man, Black Panther, and Winter Soldier than it does its title character, but that works perfectly for what I’m talking about. The main character of Team America is an actor named Gary Johnston that the team wants to make a spy so he can infiltrate the terrorist network undercover. Nobody in Civil War fits that description, but that’s because Captain America is supposed to be the main character, so that’s why, in my mind, this movie plays more out like Captain America is Gary’s love interest Lisa.
(If I haven’t lost you by now, I just may in a few seconds...)
In Team America, Lisa is heartbroken over the loss of her fiancé and teammate in the beginning scene. Later, when love with Gary seems possible, she is willing to do anything for it. Captain America is this character because the love of his life, Bucky “Winter Soldier” Barnes, comes back into the picture after he lost him in the last movie. Sure, the Cap isn’t a fan of this new government order to regulate the Avengers activities, but he seems to ditch that initial frustration as his reason to fight the moment he sees Bucky.
Cap becomes obsessed and hunts Bucky down to warn him and take him away. It feels like the beginning of the third act when all of our heroes have an Anchorman-style brawl at an airport (at least they know they won’t hurt anybody here) that Cap really isn’t in this because of a political view, but rather to fight this war over his own Helen of Troy, Bucky. Just like Lisa, he is willing to do anything and everything to keep his lost love.
Finally, with Civil War’s main villain, Helmut Zemo does not really having a compelling story for doing what he does. It is kind of like Kim Jong Il in Team America. I get it that Civil War’s main villain lost his family, but so did a lot of other people. What really set him apart? Just like Kim Jong Il, they’re bad guys for the sake of being bad guys, but what sets them apart from similar people are their status. Sure, Zemo was no affluent dictator, but he was a highly-trained military man who had the skills necessary to pull off his plan, just like Kim Jong Il.
Lastly, don’t think I’m going to leave you hanging on Bucky Barnes being the love of Captain America’s life. I know he kissed Sharon Carter, but this felt forced even by movie standards, where they feel they have to shoehorn in a romance for a B-story. There is nothing that really makes me think the Cap would go out of his way so hard to save Bucky and wage a war over him if he wasn’t at experiencing genuine feelings toward him. The fact that the Cap is from the 40s says enough for me to know that this is a man from a less tolerable time where, in general, being a "real man" meant you had to hide your emotions, especially if you were a military man.
So there you have it, Captain America: Civil War is a fun, enjoyable movie and the best comic book film of the year, but it actually has more in common with Team America than it does the source material. That doesn’t diminish it in anyway, though.
Captain America: Civil War is now playing in theatres.