Saturday, July 23, 2016

FilmCritHulk on the probem of Civil War--we don't care about Bucky so it's a huge problem when the film assumes our empathy without earning it for the characters who are formally the main agents

This, too, manages to distill some misgivings I had about the latest Captain America film.  I enjoyed the parts with Black Panther and Spiderman and it's not hard to grasp why, these are characters whose identities and motivations are not presumed as given from half a dozen previous films.  The scripting shows. 

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/05/24/civil-war-spider-man-2-and-the-dangers-of-assumed-empathy

BECAUSE THIS ALL BRINGS US TO THE SECOND AND FAR MORE STORY-CRITICAL REASON FOR WHY THIS ENTIRE CONFLICT TOOK PLACE: THE WINTER SOLDIER HIMSELF, BUCKY BARNES. AND WHAT TRULY DAMNS THAT STORY DECISION, HECK, WHAT EXISTS AS THE TRUE CARDINAL SIN OF THE WHOLE MOVIE AND PRETTY MUCH THE ENTIRE MCU IN GENERAL RIGHT NOW, IS THAT THEY DON'T DO ANY ACTUAL CHARACTER WORK FOR BUCKY. MEANING THEY DON'T REMEMBER WHAT THEY DID IN THOSE SUPER FUNCTIONAL SPIDERMAN SCENES...

THEY DON'T WORK FOR YOUR EMPATHY, THEY ASSUME IT.


ASSUMING EMPATHY IT IS THE MOST DANGEROUS THING YOU CAN DO IN A MOVIE, ESPECIALLY ONE THAT IS TRYING TO GET BY ON CHARACTERIZATION ALONE. BUCKY BARNES IS ALL ASSUMED EMPATHY. AND LOOK, HULK LOVED THE FIRST CAPTAIN AMERICA MOVIE BUT HULK COULD NOT TELL YOU A DAMN THING ABOUT BUCKY FROM IT. WHICH IS WEIRD BECAUSE CAN TELL YOU THE DETAILS OF EVERY SCENE BETWEEN HIM AND PEGGY CARTER. BUT ALL THE BUCKY STUFF IS MERELY SERVICEABLE TEXTURE. HE'S A PROP BEST FRIEND WITH A PROP DEATH IN THAT MOVIE. AND WHEN THEY BROUGHT HIM OUT FOR THE SECOND ENTRY, HULK CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MANY PEOPLE (WHO LIKED THE FIRST MOVIE) COULDN'T REMEMBER WHO HE WAS OR WHY HIS COMING BACK MATTERED. IT WAS ONE BIG "WHO IS THAT AND WHY DO I CARE?"


Which meant that when Bucky became the focal point for the not quite a Civil War so much as a schoolyard shoving match, it wasn't clear what the stakes were.  When Barnes asks if he is himself worth the trouble the script (and Cap, obviously) presume the answer is "yes" without having ever once given us a clear reason why the answer couldn't also be "no". 

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