Round 2 – Civil War and Dawn of Justice
In which we compare the two biggest comic book showdowns as they duke it out on the silver screen. This is the second part of a two part review because it got too long to confine to a single article. Read part 1 here. There are a lot more spoilers to be found in this section so a warning is in effect across the board.
Marvel – This is the first time I’ve seen a Marvel film to which I have read the actual comic! Oh I’m a fan of comics, sure, but my knowledge is broadly based on cartoons, games and research, I only pick up the odd comic here and there, but Civil War felt like a must have.
Well, the Nigeria replaced the Stamford Incident, a disastrous mission by a young band of heroes facing off against a far more experienced villain. The Superhero Registration Act was the original name for the Sokovia Accords but by and large they represent the same thing, except that in the comics the concern was more over identifying rather than regulating supers, and Spider-Man revealing his identity becomes a pivotal moment with major ramifications. I like that Parker and Stark are already bonding though.
There’s also a rather staggering moment in the comics in which villains are brought into support Cap’s anti-registration stance, being the most keen to protect their identity. In the middle of Roger’s tirade about how abhorrent the idea is and goes against everything he’s fighting for, Frank Castle walks in and kills both criminals stone dead without so much as a blink. The Captain goes mad, beating Castle to within an inch of his life, but the Punisher never raises a fist.
Not that Civil War was without its heartbreaking moments and stunning revelations, they were just different moments and revelations. This film fit the MCU, and while it was incredibly different, it represented the same thing in every regard. Gone was the post divorce conflict between Scarlet Witch and The Vision, but there was a rather interesting nod to that story too.
DC – With apologies to the fans, but my knowledge of specific Batman vs. Superman fights is far more limited, but there’s a great deal more source material to work with here. Though they’ve worked together for years, Kent and Wayne have gone at it repeatedly in the past, the mortal man proving himself more than a match for the Man of Steel, utilizing kryptonite weapons and a variety of other weapons, much like the grenades and spear, but also his razor sharp mind, careful preparation and armour capable of withstanding mach 2 punches and still nimble enough to avoid laser beams.
“Batfleck” strongly apes the aged Crusader of Frank Miller’s work, getting increasingly relaxed over his personal rules on guns, going almost military against the increasingly brazen criminals of the world. As for Superman, I’m reliably informed that the scene where he’s hit by a nuke while in orbit beating Doomsday around the face is a near-perfect pull from the comics, complete with him recovering in the unfiltered sunshine.
But way to fail Doomsday’s origin guys. The ancient superweapon of krypton cooked in a lab by the Lex Luthor-ish clown? Marvel completely altered Zemo, but it wasn’t quite as insulting.
Marvel – I could watch the airport scene over and over again, but I honestly don’t think it was the best part, it had some pretty major issues that I found too obvious, but I’ll get to that.
I’m caught between the smack talk exchanged by Cap and Iron Man – because they shoot some real barbs at each other – and the sight of Vision in a jumper and dress shirt awkwardly walking through walls because he’s a little fuzzy on the proper use of doors. The whole film is great, a long way from flawless but the flaws are easily skipped over in the face of repeatedly excellent writing and well choreographed action.
DC – Ben Affleck was actually a genuine delight, despite the use of guns. There’s a fantastic moment when the Batjet drops him through a window and as he swoops the silhouette on the glass is a perfect Batman logo, the fight scene that follows is perhaps the most enjoyable, even above the brawl between the rival heroes.
I think I may also be in the minority of people who thought the Granny’s Peach Tea scene was actually quite clever! Although the build up was a little long, and I agree with most reviews on this one that it was not very “Lex Luthor”, it’s quite a grim thing to watch a room full of people obliterated while Superman stands helplessly in the middle.
Marvel – Mostly I was irritated at Captain America having his own little agenda and generally ignoring the whole political matter while Stark has to play the responsible one and chase him down, but my biggest grievance has to be in the airport fight.
Watch that scene, and ask yourself at any given moment “What’s Vision doing? Where is he? Who’s he fighting?” I can’t decide if they carefully omitted him to keep the flow going, or if he was off to one side thinking that if he got involved too many people would die. After all, we watch him fight Hawkeye and practically take him to pieces, but he seems to do nothing to affect the outcome of the major fight, especially after the big show he made of himself just before it starts.
I also have some rather profound questions regarding the physics of Giant Man, but those are a comic issue, not the film’s problem, and it was way too funny watching Scott Lang stumbling around going “Woooaaahh”.
DC – I’m not going to be too brutal here because I could fill this section, but there are some critical moments that reminded me I was watching a Zack Snyder film against my better judgement.
So… can Batman see the future? Or did the Flash showing up to play the pronoun game bend time so that the image of the desert world with giant bat-things and Superman’s loyal army “revealed” itself to him? Also the Flash… the CW series set an ridiculously high bar for the cinematic universe to meet, but they’ve already set themselves back with that ridiculous “Oh, did I get here to early? I’ll tell you the horribly non-specific version so as not to ruin it for everyone.”
And I honestly thought the whole “Martha” thing was a joke the internet came up with. Nope! They stopped fighting because their mothers had the same name, not only that, but it was apparently all the push Batman needed to form a league dedicated to justice in America. Good job guys, you earned this painfully slow clap.
Marvel – At… where are we now? Twelve Films? The Sokovia Accords actually gives the MCU a chance to tone down in scale a little, despite the plans to go mystic this year, and Galactic soon after. With the regulations imposed on “enhanced” the scope of action can shrink, and new heroes needn’t feel the pinch of escalation. Spider-Man’s homecoming looks deeply promising, especially as there are some rather promising tales of Robert Downey Junior’s involvement, and I’m looking forward to seeing Black Panther now more than ever.
I won’t lie, I was hoping to see hints of Red Hulk now that Major Ross is back in play, but I’ve seen enough to be more than happy with the future of the Marvel leviathan, despite it’s increasing discrepancies with the comics. It has become a lore unto itself, and deserves the credit it is receiving.
DC – One thing DC does really well is its animated films, and on that note I am incredibly excited for the Killing Joke, but that’s not the point. We’ve seen the first gleamings of a Justice League that we can get behind, and I’d rather watch the JLA just come together than see any of the stand-alone films to come. Their efforts to catch up to Marvel remain awkward and embarrassing, but for the first time I am almost intrigued. Not enough though… it was still a bad film, just not the train-wreck I was expecting.
My enthusiasm for Suicide Squad has all but been eradicated, but shockingly Batfleck has renewed just a sliver of faith in the future of cinema. This is one underdog I just can’t root for, but maybe it’s not quite time to put it down.