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My Hypocritical Problem With ‘Captain America: Civil War’

Cap vs HelicopterOther than directors Anthony and Joseph Russo still somehow failing to comprehend the very simple fact that shaking the camera during action scenes does nothing to increase audiences’ enjoyment and in fact makes the action more difficult to follow and thereby frustrating to watch, I rather enjoyed Marvel’s latest superhero film, Captain America: Civil War.

But I’m a nit picky pain in the posterior so I’m going to regale you with what I consider the biggest flaw in the film and why I’m a goofy hypocrite for thinking so.

At one point in the movie, Captain America is pursuing someone who is escaping in a helicopter.  Cap runs out onto the launch pad just as the chopper is taking off.  He leaps up, grabs one of the landing struts and uses his super-soldier strength to keep it from flying away.

Horse.  Poop.

Now, I don’t doubt Cap is physically strong enough to hold a helicopter in place.  That I don’t have a problem with.  No, what annoys me is the way he does it can’t work unless that helicopter for some reason just happened to be loaded to maximum capacity.

Let’s keep the physics super simple (I’m not going to get into newtons or anything) and say that in order to pull the chopper back down towards the landing pad, Cap would have to pull down with 2,000 pounds of force.  Here’s the problem: without anchoring his feet (which he doesn’t), he can’t possibly do that!  As soon as Cap pulled down with more than his body weight, the only thing he’d accomplish is a pull up.  It doesn’t matter if he has the strength to pull a lifting chopper back down to Earth because the reality of the situation as it’s presented in the movie is that the chopper would take off with him clinging to it!

ARGH!!! So, so stupid!

And yet (and here’s where the hypocrisy comes in), I have absolutely no problem with the way Captain America ricochets his shield off people and the surrounding environment, violating the laws of physics so egregiously that Spider-Man literally calls him out on it.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the reality-bending shenanigans of Doctor Strange!


  1. Zachary Knight
    Zachary Knight May 18, 2016

    Maybe Cap just borrowed Spider-man’s shoes. So once he got his footing after grabbing the struts and the let the spider powered cling boots do the work for him.

  2. MechaTama31
    MechaTama31 May 18, 2016

    I’m gonna try to be vague, but there may be spoilers below.

    I was more bothered by the wildly inconsistent tone. They bounce back and forth between “MICHAEL BAY EXPLOSIONGASM!!!”, and “Oh hey, innocent bystanders, collateral damage, how can you be so callous?” I honestly don’t think the heroes can be so callous. I think the action scenes take place in a universe where that kind of destruction does not cause any serious consequences. Otherwise I can’t believe that none of the heroes realized/cared what was happening until Senator What’s-His-Name shows them his little mass-atrocity highlight reel. But they want to cram this other universe of moral dilemma and ambiguity and angst in there, too. For some scenes, anyway. After those, they go right back to ripping planes in half simply to use as improvised weapons, demolishing entire (possibly occupied) buildings just to prevent a vehicle from escaping, etc. If you really look at it, it seems that these guys are all a bunch of sociopaths and ought to be put away and/or eliminated because of the existential threat they pose to the rest of the population. The Sokovia Accords aren’t nearly enough. I’m thinking Sentinels are probably justified.

    Speaking of sociopaths, holy cow, I can’t believe the airport fight. Half of these people had never met eachother before, and had absolutely no reason to expect that their foes would be able to survive their attacks. Again, this makes sense if we’re in the universe where people merely get bruises and scrapes from things that rightly ought to liquefy/vaporize/pulverize/whatever them. These heroes know from past experience that they can just keep blasting, punching, and slamming away, and eventually their opponent will be exhausted, unconscious, or incapacitated enough for the fight to be over. Except then the filmmakers want to inject a bit of drama again, and somebody gets crippled for life because they fell down. Are you kidding me? With all the impacts people have survived in those suits, I just figured we were living in a universe where as long as your outer covering was intact, no amount of impact, acceleration, heat, or other trauma would hurt you inside (the “Crystal Skull” universe). But that’s out the window now, so how exactly has Stark survived the last several movies?

    The spectacle of it all is definitely impressive, but if you look at it through the light of what we are now being told are the consequences and aftermath of these battles, the “heroes” all come out looking like a bunch of assholes.

    Still better than BvSDoJ, though.

  3. MechaTama31
    MechaTama31 May 18, 2016

    But on the helicopter thing, perhaps Bucky was deliberately staying low, either out of a desire to not hurt Steve, or out of a desire to not be at an even higher altitude when Steve gains entry and possible (probably) brings the whole thing down in a flaming wreck.

    • Zachary Knight
      Zachary Knight May 18, 2016

      Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have seen the scene in question. I don’t think that is Bucky’s motivation as he deliberately crashes the helicopter in such a way that it is clear his intent is to kill or severely maim Cap.

      • MechaTama31
        MechaTama31 May 19, 2016

        Unless this action scene is one of the ones from the consequence-free version of the universe… 😉

  4. Jess
    Jess June 3, 2016

    Cap is anchored to the concrete platform, so wouldn’t be lifted off if he had the strength, NOT to pull the helicopter down which he doesn’t (he bends the leg of the helicopter, but this is not pulling the helicopter down, and requires much less force), but merely to hold in place the helicopter.

    Assuming the helicopter has 2000 lbs of upforce, this is well within Cap’s strength. He isn’t actively ‘curling’ the helicopter with his biceps, but maintaining static muscle contraction using his entire arms, shoulder and upper body. This is maybe 3-4x the force of an active bicep curl. If Cap can bicep curl 400-500 lbs – 50% higher than the world’s best, perhaps more, holding the helicopter is place is within the realm of reason.

    • Andrew Eisen
      Andrew Eisen June 3, 2016

      He’s not anchored to the ground. Hell, when he first grabs the chopper he isn’t even touching the ground.

      Andrew Eisen

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