Let’s get this out of the way. I loved Doctor Strange. It represents another fascinating step forward for Marvel Studios.
I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think it’s a miracle that a super-franchise like this exists and is not only respectful of its source material, but also consistently fun to watch. I’ve always been a sucker for serialized storylines, ever since I started watching Lost. While that show has ultimately ended up disappointing me (to the point where it took me six years to realize and accept that its finale was just not that good), the Marvel movies have become a constant event for me to look forward to every few months, similar to how I felt when Lost, Doctor Who, Gravity Falls, or Hannibal would air a new episode.
Captain America: Civil War represents everything I love about the MCU, good and bad. It’s a very rewarding and thoughtful blockbuster experience, but very dependent on previous entries in the franchise. If you’re not caught up with the MCU, there’s a chance you may be wondering who a lot of these characters are. It would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone who isn’t as familiar with the MCU, to see if the movie holds up well on its own.
Anyway, all of this is a prelude to the reason I’m writing this. I want to talk about why Civil War was one of the most important movie-going experiences of my life.
When I found out the Russo brothers were returning for the next Captain America movie, I was very happy. I had loved what they did with The Winter Soldier. When I found out the premise for Captain America 3 was going to be an adaptation of the Civil War storyline, I was excited. When Spider-Man was announced as a supporting character in the movie and future MCU entries, I was ecstatic. I had hated the last Spider-Man movie so this was a literal dream come true.
Most of these pieces of news and hype leading up to the movie occurred while I was living in Los Angeles.
I was worried about what it would be like to live in LA before I committed to going there for my last semester of college. I was worried the lack of real change in weather would drive me nuts. I was worried that the business that I thought I wanted to be a part of would drain me of my enthusiasm for movies. I was worried it would put a strain on my current relationship.
All of those things happened, and more. Having to drive everywhere in a city full of the absolute worst drivers I have ever seen took away my ability to enjoy a simple car ride. My internship turned out to be little more than unpaid office work that showed me how unpleasant people in the film business could be. One of my classes was centered around stories of unhappy people who lived in LA, and all the reasons not to live there. My other class involved writing for a show that further dealt with unhappy and depressed individuals.
On top of all this, I was sinking. I felt myself getting worse and lower and miserable, and I wasn’t able to deal with it. When the first season of Daredevil came out, I latched onto watching it whenever possible. I started watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold, devouring all 65 episodes in less than a month. I also saw many, many movies in LA theaters to further distract myself from how bad I was getting. (special mentions to Kingsman: The Secret Service, Magic Mike XXL, Creed, and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation for being my favorites out of what I saw)
But what I latched onto most of all, what I built up in my head as my light at the end of the tunnel, was Avengers: Age of Ultron. I had been waiting for this movie since I had seen Whedon’s first Avengers movie at the end of my freshman year of college. It was the only graduation gift that I cared about. I told myself that if I could make it to this movie, I would be ok.
I enjoyed the movie when I saw it, but it was a disappointment that took a while for me to deal with. Because, as you probably know, movies don’t magically fix all your problems. That and Age of Ultron is one of the more inconsistent entries in the MCU.
My problems got worse after that. I struggled to find consistent work to pay for the apartment that my girlfriend and I had just moved into. Eventually, a visit to the ER happened that traumatized us both, leading us both to leave LA. She left a couple months before I did, so there was this strange period of time where I was living alone in our apartment, working at a good, full-time job, and coming home and doing nothing but listen to David Bowie music (he had just passed away) before maybe eating something and going to sleep.
I started seeing a therapist, which helped, but I eventually moved our stuff out of the apartment with my friends’ help, and flew back to the east coast.
I moved back in with my dad and brother and got a part-time job at a bowling/arcade place. I saw my girlfriend when I could as we navigated through a death in her family, long distance, discomfort at our respective living places, and both of our mental health problems.
Throughout all of this, as we were slowly beginning our recovery from LA, I remembered that Captain America: Civil War was in my near future. It came out about a week after my birthday. I was reading very positive reactions to the movie before I saw it. I lost my shit when the Spider-Man costume was revealed.
And I felt myself becoming enthusiastic and hopeful about something again.
The movie didn’t disappoint me. It was everything I wanted it to be. I came out of that theater so happy. Especially after the dumpster fire that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I am still trying to navigate through my depression, so I’m not trying to say that this movie magically cured that. Because of course it didn’t.
The reason why Civil War will forever be an important movie to me is that it showed me that I still had the ability to feel happy again.
I rewatched it tonight for the first time in months and it reminded me of all the crap that I’ve gone through since LA (almost two years, holy shit), and how far I’ve come. I still have to figure out how to deal with my depression better, but I also need to allow myself more time to do something else that makes me happy, which is this: writing.
The last time I wrote something was my Star Trek Beyond review in July. And that’s partially because I haven’t seen a movie in a theater since then. But it’s also because I’ve become hyper-focused on things that have taken away time from doing this. I’m not great at it (there is a reason I call myself an amateur), but I love writing about movies.
So this is me making a promise. From now on, I am publishing a review once a week. Good or bad. But preferably good.
If you’ve read all of this or any of my other writing, thank you. I’m sorry if I’ve let you down, but I’m going to do my best to make up for it.
Starting with Doctor Strange next week 🙂