‘Captain America: Civil War’ first trailer – 10 talking points 

civil war

So this morning I woke up after a night of drinking, head still a little fuzzy, not really sure what day of the week it was, and just generally trying to work out what my name was and whether I could stand up or not. As a lot of people tend to do in the morning I started to scroll through my phone, whilst avoiding looking at my face in the mirror because I know I owe it an apology for last night. At this point I stumbled across a tweet concerning the upcoming Doctor Strange film which sparked my interest and required some light research on IMDB. It was at this point my research drew to a stand still as I found that the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War had dropped.

Holy shit.

I wish I could have taken a selfie at the time because I know my reaction was priceless. Alas I couldn’t, because I dropped my phone. On my face.

For many people this will be quite exciting because it’s a new blockbuster that’s going to be one heck of an experience, but for those of us who read the comics, this is insane! This is what we’ve been waiting for! Ever since Marvel made their big Phase Three announcement over a year ago we’ve all been looking forward to this. It’s one of the best modern comic books, it has the Russo brothers in the director’s chair(s), it has all of the characters we love in one film together, it’s just an overload of awesomeness.

The trailer that was released is incredible, it has a lot of footage sealed in tight and a lot of new things to get our heads around and it is so cool! I mean the comic book geeks like myself are already sold on the film, all this has done is initiated a global scale nerdgasm. Now I know some people won’t have bothered looking into the trailer as much as the geeks have but there were certain things that caught my attention:

1. The Plot – this is arguably one of the most interesting elements that the trailer revealed because up until this point it has been mere speculation as to how the story from the comic book would transfer to the big screen. The thing about the Civil War thread is that it is an epic, it has so many characters (some of whom aren’t currently in the Marvel cinematic universe) and different narratives all happening at the same time, so a direct transfer would be absolutely impossible. Until this point most people (myself included) assumed they would transfer the basics of the Civil War plot and add a twist to it so it’s dealing with the backlash of the events that occurred in Age of Ultron. However it seems like at the moment they’re tying in a Bucky Barnes related twist too, which I have absolutely no complaints about and I can’t wait to see the fully developed narrative they’ve made.

2. Bucky remembers Cap – I know there’s all of the fast paced action and explosions and fist fights, but this moment stood out because it shows good things about the writing. They’re allowing for characterisation and it’s going to pay off in the long run if they want us to engage in the film. It’s the little details like this that make the audience feel emotionally attached to the characters and I’m glad they took time to show it.

3. General Ross is back – I’d heard rumours that William Hurt was reprising his role in the MCU but I wasn’t sure if it would actually happen because as far as I’m aware I thought we were all trying to forget The Incredible Hulk (2008) ever happened. I don’t have a problem with this of course because it shows that it isn’t all going to be loud action sequences, we’re going to get some heated dialogue and office politics, with Thunderbolt Ross in the manager’s chair. Bring it on.

4. “Sokovia Accords” – this is where I know I went full geek but I don’t care. If you have good eye sight and/or pause the trailer at the right moment you can see the name of the document General Ross gives Captain America. It’s unknown at this point what this actually is but at the moment I can only assume it’s teasing the legislation the government is enforcing (known as the Superhero Registration Act in the comic) whilst linking it to the events in Age of Ultron. This is also where we might see some of the disagreement starting. For those who have read the comic you’ll be familiar with this but for the uninitiated the Superhero Registration Act is formed because the government wants to keep a lid on superhero activity. They want the secret identities to be thrown away, they want the superheros working under their management, on their payroll, and above all to limit what they can and cannot do. So any superhero who doesn’t agree is seen essentially as an enemy of the state and faces imprisonment. This results in our heroes being split into schisms, with Tony Stark backing the government and Captain America fighting against it, causing quite a violent conflict between superheroes. Obviously we don’t know at this point how direct the transferal of this will be, and it is a Captain America film not an Avengers film so the focus will have to be shifted slightly, but the “Sokovia Accord” does set things up quite nicely to follow a route I think we’d all be comfortable with.

5. Frank Grillo is back and revamped – this was a blink and you’ll miss it clip from the trailer but it basically saw actor Frank Grillo, AKA Brock Rumlow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, reprising said role and under the character’s alter ego Crossbones. On a side note if you haven’t seen the photos of the characters together filming on location then I kind of have to question where you’ve been hiding for the last few months. Like I said, he’s in the trailer for a split second having a fight with the Cap, and it’s unknown as to how large his role in the film is, but it was still quite exciting to see the character on screen. If only all too briefly.

6. The teams are emerging… – there wasn’t an awful lot to suggest who is siding with Tony Stark, other than War Machine obviously, but I think we pretty much saw the entirety of Captain America’s team, consisting of The Winter Solider, Falcon, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch (all pictured above). It sounds unfair to only show one side but it just means there is still a lot of guess work to be done based on what characters we know are in the film but haven’t been shown yet, whilst also taking into account those who may not even pick a side and fight, as many in the comic book choose not to get involved. Guess work is half the fun before the film is released so I think this leaves us in quite a good place.

7. Black Panther – YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, SOMEBODY’S BEEN TO WAKANDA! As soon as I saw Black Panther on screen I had to internally scream so I didn’t wake the neighbours. It’s stupid because we all knew he was going to be in the film, Chadwick Boseman was officially cast, but it was still exciting to finally see the character on screen in front of me. And what’s better, he was on screen kickin’ some serious butt! I was under the impression that because this was the first time we’ve ever seen the character on the big screen that he’d be something of a minor role, but now it feels like Black Panther will have quite a big involvement, which is awesome! Also in the comic book Black Panther features very briefly, says he’s not getting involved, and then is basically gone from that point on, so it’s interesting that they’ve chosen to given him such a big role before his solo film. Not complaining obviously! Just intrigued.

8. That last line though… – I don’t even need to repeat that last line. We all know what I’m talking about. Hopes of a Tony Stark and Cap bromance are shattered eternally in just two lines of dialogue. Emotions man, emotions.

9. The directing is still on point – again this is one that might not be important to many people but I was relieved that after the success of Winter Soldier the Russo brothers are still at the top of their game. What was so good about Winter Soldier was that it took a character who was ruined by their first film, put him in the hands of two guys who hadn’t really done any noteworthy work yet, and then completely surprised everyone. We can all admit we went to see that film ready to tear it to shreds, but what we got instead was a genuinely well directed action film and one of the best standalone Marvel films ever made. I have not only confidence but respect for the Russo brothers, I believe this project is absolutely in safe hands. Just look at the last fist fight we see in the trailer, with the fast paced hitting and shield throwing between Iron Man, Cap and Bucky, it just worked so well and it looked awesome. I can’t wait to see more.

10. Stay for the credits – again this is geeking out but fuck you, I don’t care. Once you see the title of the film at the end of the trailer all of the names and job titles appear on screen that you usually ignore right? In this case don’t ignore them. If you pause the video like I did then you’ll see the most accurate cast list you are going to see by this point, confirming that certain people are in the film that you may not have seen on screen. People like Paul Bettany as Vision, Paul Rudd as Ant Man, and most interestingly it confirms that Daniel Brühl is in the film. It doesn’t say who he is playing but he has long been rumoured to be playing the Captain America villain Baron Zemo. Either way we know that Brühl is one of the biggest named actors of our time and he’s now tied into the MCU. Who wins? Everyone.

There is still a lot we are yet to see that is being kept from us at the moment, like footage of Ant Man and the newly cast Spider-Man and who exactly Martin Freeman has been cast to play, but for the time being this was a very promising first look. As teasers go this was without a doubt one of the best we’ve had all year. Its filled me with even more confidence in the film, and I genuinely think it could be really good. At the moment Marvel are churning out some truly fantastic films, with more planned that have huge potential. Civil War is the starting point of Phase Three, and I want it to be good. I want it to completely smash Batman v Superman out of the Box Office and show Zack Snyder that he needs to learn how to direct traffic before he attempts directing a film again. We’ll just have to keep our ears to the ground and see what else they’ll dangle in front of us before the release next year.

In the mean time I may head back and read the comic again because I’m sure the trailer probably had more in it that I’ve missed. And if anyone hasn’t read it but is thinking of doing it then I would thoroughly recommend it. You will not be disappointed.

Some Films Are Like Having Your Favourite Book Shouted At You

It’s curious how when a film is made in to a novel people are cautious to compare them. I’m not sure if it’s out of fear that one might be ruined for them or one might annoy them but it’s always a grey area talking about a film that’s based on a book someone near you loves. I have be to cautious when I talk about ‘The Hobbit’ series of films currently being made because I’ve read the book and dislike them, and yet I know a lot of people who haven’t read the book and love them. I think despite what people say, the book does matter.

There’s this common idea floating around that you shouldn’t compare the film to the book, or that the book doesn’t matter because the film stands as something independent merely based on source material. I don’t think this is the right way to go about things, if you feel passionate about a novel then surely you want to see a film make respect it too?

I’ve always found it quite difficult to watch a film a bad film that’s based on a good book, because it takes something you care about and twists and breaks it right in front of your eyes. Just recently when I sat down to watch the latest instalment of ‘The Hobbit’ I found myself liking it and disliking it at the same time. I liked it because it brought to life the world of such a magnificent book that has such vast landscapes that were captured beautifully on screen, but then I disliked it because the action was always going to be the main focus to reel in cinema audiences. For me the book was a display of human spirit and the idea of wanting to be free to have an adventure so I wanted the film to capture that idea and show the real leap of faith we all want to take, but because there are dwarves with an all manner of weapons, they suddenly become the focus to get people’s interest. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the film is terrible, but I was disappointed. My full review of the film can be found here if anyone missed it and is interested to see my full view explained: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-the-film-is-long-meaning-my-review-is/

I think it’s the old case of the wrong element of a novel being emphasised. It’s almost as if some films adapted from novels are too loud and it pushes the boundary so it’s like having your favourite book shouted at you as opposed to read to you. The best example I can think of to give for this was the latest big screen adaptation of the classic novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ last year by Baz Luhrmann. I think I would go so far as to say that Gatbsy is my favourite book, it is a masterfully written look at what love does to humans and what love actually is, with such powerful characters and detail that pulls you in to a world very close to our own. So you can imagine how annoyed I was when I saw the recent film. It was a technicolour splattering of over the top visuals and a soundtrack that was so misplaced it still annoys me today. The book has so much substance based around dialogue and characterisation and yet Luhrmann’s approach was to throw it all in your face and turn it up to eleven when it just wasn’t necessary. He emphasised the party scenes and the fast cars so much it completely took away any depth the characters had and the deeper meanings behind the plot. I don’t even know if I can say I was annoyed about it, I was just disappointed. Again I don’t want to take up more room talking about it so a full summary of my views can be found in my review: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/the-could-be-better-gatsby-no-spoilers/

When a novel is adapted for the big screen you assume that the director and writers for the film have read it, understand it and most importantly appreciate it, but it seems as though some film makers still jump in and ruin thing. At least with Peter Jackson making ‘The Hobbit’ he’s read the book and he appreciates the source material, there are still people who don’t appreciate the source enough to make a good film. This was exactly the case when my old favourite Zack Snyder attempted to make a film based on the classic graphic novel ‘Watchmen’ in 2009. In fairness it is a challenging source to make a film from, but if you approach it focusing on the visual element that you’ve lost my respect I’m afraid sir. There is so much more to source material than just tight costumes, violence and uncomfortable set pieces. He even admitted recently that he made the film for himself, and that he likes to watch it because it’s his favourite film he’s made. This is an example of how we don’t make films ladies and gentlemen. Although from the man who brought us ‘300’ I’m not entirely sure what else we were expecting.

On the other hand, there are the odd occasions where I find the opposite happening, when a film manages to live up to the book or indeed surpass it. This happened quite nicely just over a year ago with the release of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, based on the novel by Matthew Quick but not a direct copy and paste job to the big screen. It was quite different from the book, but to be honest I preferred it. David O. Russell took a novel that was quite good, nothing too special, and made it funnier and a really uplifting film. The humour he added to it worked really well and he focused on just how human the characters are. Sometimes film makers get so caught up in making films based on out of this world characters and set thousands of years away from our time that they forget humanity, the one thing that can make a film hit the audience. The character of Pat in the novel was quite interesting, but the way it was brought to the screen by David O. Russell was something special, because it was uplifting and made me feel positive. There are times when I laughed at him, times when I wanted to throw things at him on screen but nothing beats the times I smiled when he was thinking positively. That was something the book missed out on.

It’s not all doom and gloom I’m glad to say, there are obviously films made from books that are very good and are successful for a number of reasons. There are just the odd times that a bit of a stinker comes along. There are examples such as ‘No Country For Old Men’, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy that was very good, and I think one of my favourite films adapted from a novel is ‘There Will Be Blood’ based on the novel ‘Oil!’ by Upton Sinclair. It took a novel that was based around greed, family struggles and political matters and made it darker. I admire Paul Thomas Anderson greatly for making the film because it showed how someone can be inspired by a novel to make a good film without trying to make it a direct match.

And even after all of this, I still do not know how to feel about ‘The Hunger Games’. I don’t know if I’ll ever like it.

Tim Burton vs Christopher Nolan – The Batman Argument

This post is inspired by an article I’ve not long finished reading entitled ’15 Reasons Tim Burton’s Batman Is Better Than Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight’. It was quite an interesting article in the sense that it managed to anger me but also entertain me because of the statements this person was making. I’m not about to slate Tim Burton as a film maker because I respect him and admire his work a lot, but when it comes to Batman his films were quite poor compared to the recent work of Christopher Nolan. I’ve shown my admiration for Christopher Nolan a lot in previous posts, so you can label this as defending him, and at the end of the day you’d be right to do so.

I thought the best way to handle this was to address the points made in the article that annoyed me, and do my best to not so much correct them, but just show how they are not entirely correct and/or probable. The list may be long but believe me I had to cut it down massively to make this post shorter. Hold on to your hats, this is going to be quite a journey.

1. The action – the person who wrote the article felt as though Nolan’s films have less actions in them and then when they are action sequences they are dull. Personally I feel that there is a perfect balance between dialogue and action and the action sequences that are in the films are very well choreographed. The thing with the violence in the Burton films is that it felt too much like a comic book, with spraying Tommy Guns and slow punches so I didn’t feel as though it was close to real life because it was too dramatised. In the case of Nolan’s films it’s more brutal, the use of sound and the choreography means you can feel the weight of every punch so you can feel that the characters are being hurt, and for me Burton failed to capture this feeling. 

2. Script – the writer of the article felt as though the script was boring and there was too much talking. In particular they referenced what they call “ponderous conversations in Wayne Enterprises boardroom” which they considered to be tedious and too serious. In my opinion I don’t think this is a bad thing, it shows clever writing capability on Nolan’s part and also adds a certain intellectual level to the script. It’s all well and good making a Batman film that has loud explosions and chase sequences, but it shows something special if you can add depth to it through clever planning and development of characters intellect. With the screenplay for Burton’s films it was good, but nothing special, almost as if the characters were saying the basics of what needed to be said which differs greatly from Nolan’s scripts. I consider Christopher Nolan to be one of the best screenplay writers of our time, he’s both intelligent and witty and is very good at characterisation. I still cherish to this day his line he wrote for the Joker: “do I look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars; I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!”.

3. Timing – apparently if Batman doesn’t appear in the first couple of minutes of the film, then the film isn’t very good. Which is complete and utter rubbish. Batman takes a full fourty minutes to make an appearance in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ which for me was very good. It showed true development of character, showing how Bruce Wayne was in a real make or break situation where he had to build himself back up to being Batman. It was slow, but not in a dragging kind of way, but more in a taking it’s time sort of way, it was delicate and allowed the audience to connect more to the human side of Batman by showing how at the end of the day we are all Bruce Wayne in the sense that we want to be more than just a person.

 4. (pt 1) Actors – The cast of the Nolan films is supposedly not matched to the ensemble put together by Burton. I liked the cast of the Burton films equally as much as I liked the cast of the Nolan trilogy, but I would disagree with the writer when they say that Michael Keaton is a better Batman than Christian Bale. For me Michael Keaton was the same person when he was Bruce Wayne and Batman, with no real difference between the two other than the costume. He seemed quite emotionless and his delivery of lines was a bit flat for my liking. On the flip side, Christian Bale had a real darker side to him when he was Batman and felt more like a vigilante, and then when he was Bruce Wayne he had this feel of conflicting emotions that made him appear to be more human so he was easy to connect with.

4. (pt 2) Actors, The Joker – I have no problem with Jack Nicholson, he is one of the finest actors to ever grace our screens, but to say he was a better Joker than Heath Ledger is a little bit too far. I liked Jack Nicholson’s Joker because he was quite true to the comic books and his presence was that of someone who wasn’t odd, but crazy. However I feel that Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was unbeatable, he really got in to the mindset of the character and presented us with a character who was so chaotic in their actions but a complete genius in their thinking style. The latest Joker was more of a terrorist and his plans advanced further than just planning to gas Gotham, so Ledger had the opportunity to really go for it and push forward a character who we both loved and feared. According to the writer also, Jack Nicholson was a more ‘fun’ joker, which I think is a comment that can only be taken seriously if you are a child. The whole idea of The Joker is that he is having fun causing problems, so in the case of Jack Nicholson he had fun dancing around and singing, whereas Heath Ledger’s Joker had more fun tearing buildings down and making people angry. Finally I have to address their laughs as The Joker; Ledger’s wins by a clear mile.

5. Theme Song – I’ll only address his briefly, in short Danny Elfman’s score was too loud and felt like it was suited more to a pantomime, whereas Hans Zimmer constructed a score that suited the actions sequences but also the depths of the characters involved. Danny Elfman’s felt more like he was producing the soundtrack for sixties cartoon, Zimmer’s felt like it was well suited for a big bold blockbuster for an intelligent audience.

6. Visual Style – I will admit that Burton’s attempts to make the film look like it was straight out of a comic book is admirable, but Nolan brought something very special to the way we look at Gotham City. Nolan made it look more like it was a real city with real people, and that Batman was less of a superhero but more of a vigilante, who wanted to be a sign that represents people who want to make a difference. With Burton’s films Batman felt like a superhero who goes out in tights every night taking on whatever robbers or crooks he can find, whereas with Nolan he felt like a vigilante who was helping the police to bring down a greater problem. I won’t slate Burton completely here, I do admire his artistic style when it came to the visuals but sometimes it did feel a little over the top and crossed the line from being quirky to out of place.

7. Directing – a quote from the article that really made me feel annoyed was “Burton didn’t overload the frame with crap” which was so much further from the truth. In Burton’s films it was clear that he was focused on visual style and wanted it to look like it had jumped out of the pages of a comic book. There were quirky characters, outlandish pieces of scenery and set pieces galore, with trashy action sequences that felt like they were being acted out by a child playing with action figures. Nolan’s films felt as though they were placed in our own world with characters that could easily exist. The directing style that Nolan uses is very impressive, he makes sure that was in on screen is perfect, focusing on little details such as the Joker’s hand positioning and facial expression. His action sequences are tight, and the characters are perfectly balanced. Yes there are set pieces in Nolan’s films, but they link to deeper moral messages and themes based around people’s conscience, and the human condition. I’m not going to totally mock Burton’s directing style because it is still good, but when compared to Nolan there isn’t any real competition for me.

I know at the end of the day it’s all subjective and people are welcome to think what they want, but equally I have the right to say my opinions too. In it’s defense the article was very well written and they constructed a good and solid argument, I just felt as though some comments made strayed quite far from the truth. I’m less angry about the article now that I’ve had time to sit down and think about it, it just shows how my passion for films gets the better of me when I come face to face with someone who is equally as opinionated as me.

I think Christopher Nolan is a genius of cinema and really raised the Batman franchise to new heights after the depths it had reached after ‘Batman & Robin’. Tim Burton is very good at what he does and I do admire his work for cinema, but for me his Batman films could have been better and weren’t quite up the scratch. I still enjoy them, but they don’t quite reach the technical and artistic mastery of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Both are important series of films and have influenced me as I’ve grown up so they both mean different things to me. Batman is franchise I feel very strongly about so at the end of the day I’m happy that both Burton and Nolan have managed to make films out of the source material without making a mess of the job like Joel Schumacher did.

Imagine if the Dark Knight trilogy was directed by Joel Schumacher. Imagining that gives me the same feeling as stroking a dog’s fur the wrong way.