Did you ever watch a film and think, I’ve seen that before?
This year has already seen two separate treatments of the famed Florence Foster Jenkins, with announcements only in the past weeks that more than one adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book series may coincide in 2018. White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen were released within months of each other, as were Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached, Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror – it goes on.
Note: The article herein contains major spoilers for both Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
Separated by five weeks and markedly different receptions – Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, aside from their status as highly anticipated comic-book, ensemble, CGI-heavy sequel-extravaganzas, are remarkably similar films.
Both open with the death of a main characters’ parents and an explanation of how this made him into the man he is today. The ageing, wealthy industrialist-scientists in question are haunted by the destruction of cities witnessed in previous films and the loss of innocent lives on their watch, with both movies early on chronicling the destruction of an office complex, the deaths of its inhabitants and the profound impact on our heroes’ psyches.
The US government, in the guise of a Senator (Holly Hunter) and the Secretary of State (William Hurt) demand that the heroes be brought into check and serve the greater good, so long as it’s the greater good according to the authorities. The mortal, cashed-up sons of pioneer fathers (Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne) demand that the heroes be brought to bay, while a heralded symbol of American idealism and widely-viewed saviour (Captain America, Superman) resists these constraints, putting each set of heroes on a collision course.
On the edge of taking action, Capitol Hill and the UN respectively are each decimated by an explosion carried out by a maniacal string-puller intent on framing a key player and making the title characters fight, convinced that they can and will destroy each other. Captain America and Superman each navigate a burgeoning romance while slugging it out, all the while introducing a series of new players (Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Black Panther), each of whom will get their own films in time.
Civil War has proved the winner both commercially and critically, in no small part due to the decision to have more than one (in this case 12) films building up to the clash of titans. Forced to team up briefly to defeat the foe who is ultimately apprehended, Batman thrillingly clashes with Superman, just as Iron Man and Cap battle it out over their respective ideologies; each pair setting the tone and tension for a series of future encounters and innumerable, perhaps similar, sequels.