There’s a great piece of throwaway dialogue in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s delivered by Agent Hill as she explains to ‘Cap (and the audiance) who the two new superheroes – Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver – on the block are. It’s succinct and reads:

“He’s fast and she’s weird.”

As far as clumsy exposition goes, it’s actually pretty clever. Those in the know get a chuckle from the quick nod, those not in the know get a chuckle because everyone else is laughing, and the rest are still wondering why Robin from How I Met Your Mother isn’t shooting people in a latex bodysuit in this scene.

But I digress, this little sentence perfectly sums up what’s wrong with Marvel’s ensemble flicks; they try to cram too much into too short a timeframe.

Age of Ultron was a perfect example of this. Forgetting the source material for a second, let’s look at what that one movie had to do:

  • Introduce Scarlet Witch
  • Introduce Quicksilver
  • Introduce Vision
  • Introduce Ultron
  • Give some backstory and motivation to all these characters and somehow give enough screen time to each so they have sufficient impetus to take part in the plot
  • Tie up loose ends from the previous Avengers as well as finish off Phase 2 while also opening up some threads for future movies to tie up
  • Tie all the above into a two hour 22 minute film as well as throwing in a movie somewhere

Looking at this list it’s easy to understand why director Joss Whedon said that the movie broke him.

At this point I’m probably preaching to the choir. Everyone and their super-powered dog has already pointed out the flaws of the movie, as well as the inherent problem of adapting the comic book medium to film.

But here’s the problem: I think they’re going to disappoint us again.

In preparation to review Civil War, I’ve taken it upon myself to read the entire story arc. Not just the seven core issues, but everything on the “suggested reading” list from Marvel themselves. All some 100 comics. Yeah…

Yes, I know that this is a tie-in story arc, and yes, they’re mainly made to make Marvel more money. Yes, I could just read the Wikipedia page or catch a quick video explaining it. But balls to that, I’m here for the comics.

About a quarter way through the reading list and the concern is growing: there’s just no way all of this will fit into a movie. Even if they handed it off to Peter Jackson and told him to make a trilogy, there are just too many events, too many characters, too much everything to fit into a single movie. While the problems I’ve mentioned have applied to some degree to all comic book movies, Civil War is going to suffer the most due to its sheer scale.

We’ve already seen the cast cut down (to the point where the “Civil War” looks like a bar fight instead), and I think that’s going to seep into the narrative. So much is going to be cut from this famous arc that it will be a disappointment to many. Unless….

We stop looking at the comics and let the movies be there own thing, dammit. Ever since Iron Man came out eight years ago, this has been a point of contention.

My stance on this has always been: if you want to enjoy something that’s exactly like the comics, then read the comics.

Captain America: Civil War has more to juggle than even Age of Ultron, and there’s a massive chance that’s it’s going to drop the ball. What it can, and should do instead, is take this opportunity to be divergent and be a great movie in of itself. It has very little chance (read: very little time) to cover the source material properly, so it needs to be something else.

Again, if you want the “proper” Civil War experience, go read all the comics again. If you want the Captain America: Civil War experience, watch the movie and enjoy (or hate) it for being just that: a movie, and not a comic book.

 

[Image – The Geek Twins]