If I were a betting man, and if box office receipts are any indication, I would say by now you’ve seen “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Captain America: Civil War.” But did you notice that you pretty much watched the same movie twice? Both films had been announced more than two years ago and “Civil War” borrowed its plot from the comic of the same name, but the similarities between “Civil War” and “Batman v Superman” are actually quite jarring if you look at it. We’re not saying Marvel needs to (or wants to) steal from DC, but it is a big coincidence that all these things took place in cinemas just months apart…
First things first, the obvious: it’s the red, white and blue all-American hero versus the billionaire playboy with all the fun toys. Captain America and Superman both believe that the safest hands are their own and while they realize the collateral damage their actions have, they believe it is the price you pay to do the right thing. Meanwhile, Iron Man and Batman both see that mentality as dangerous; that because Cap/Supes truly believe what they’re doing is right, they need to be stopped.
This brings us to the second similarity: governments stepping in due to the actions in previous films. After his fight with Zod (a battle which Zach Snyder claimed 5,000 people died in but other “estimates” have it at 100,000), the United States calls Superman to take responsibility for his actions. Yeah, they also brought him in because of the foreign shootings at the start of the film, but that was just silly (you know, because Superman totally would use guns on civilians). In “Civil War,” the Avengers are forced to sign the Sokovia Accords due to their actions in “Age of Ultron,” plus another incident at the beginning of the film in, you guessed it, a foreign country.
Both fights between our heroes, the epic showdowns we were promised, were relative letdowns and each had their dumb moment. For “Batman v Superman,” the reason Superman and Bruce fight is just stupid; while Bruce has his (underdeveloped) fear of an unchecked Superman, Superman is only fighting him to save his mother (which is a whole other issue if you bring up the fact why does he not just open the fight by telling Bruce or better yet just fly around Metropolis and find her himself?). The fight is mostly the Batman-kick-the-crap-outta-Clark-a-thon for 10 minutes before ending in the biggest anticlimactic finish ever. Their fight concludes because Superman mumbles “Martha” (“where did you hear that name?!”) followed by plot exposition in a human form Amy Adams running up to say it is also Clark’s mom’s name. Well that worked out, so glad we’re buddies now!
“Civil War” has its heroes showdown at an airport, and while the fight is colorful and fun the stakes never feel real and Marvel’s trademark lighthearted fun tone gets in the way of taking any of it seriously. But don’t worry; “Civil War” has something close to its own “Martha” moment. When Tony follows Cap and Bucky to the old Hydra base, Zemo shows them the footage of Tony’s parents being killed. Tony knows Zemo is trying to tear them apart and he also knows Bucky was brainwashed, but he still goes berserk and tries to kill Bucky and Steve. One could argue it was blind rage, but the moment would have had much more impact had *that* been the thing that put Tony over the edge and brought upon the big Avenger vs Avenger battle, not because Captain American needed to catch a plane.
In other words, both character’s motivations were suddenly, inexplicably dropped at the mention of a sad childhood memory.
There are a few other similarities between “Batman v Superman” and “Civil War,” like the badass women warriors coming between the two main heroes or how each film refused to end. People were more forgiving of “Civil War’s” flaws because it is Marvel, and whether you’re a fanboy or not that is an undeniable fact. It is up to you and your loyalties to decide which film was better, but no matter which 2016 superhero romp you chose, I’m guessing it featured a muscular badass dressed all in black who can kick the crap out of people (whether you pictured Batman or Black Panther should be the only test you need).