Jordan H. Manigo
Creative director. Designer. Storyteller. Nilla wafer enthusiast.


Jordan H. Manigo | Blog | Editorials and journals on the design process, film, and storytelling.



Editorials and journals on the design process, film, and storytelling.


Cinephilia 001 | Captain America: Civil War

illustration by Ryan Meinerding

Captain America: Civil War was pretty damn good. Not the revelation that Winter Soldier was, but it’s up there with the best of MARVEL's ever expanding roster of films.

No spoilers (promise)

First and foremost...Black Panther. Made. Me. MOIST. I went into this with muted expectations about him and how well he'd translate on screen — would they try way too hard to make him feel genuinely important and powerful and well, African...and turn him into a Tyler Perry-esque abomination? But as soon as I saw T'Challa, as soon as I saw one of his Dora Milaje (bodyguards) (statuesque, proudly bald and intimidating women at that...screw Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, honestly...Amazonian, my ass), as soon as I saw a wealth of dark skinned men and women that weren't represented in a stereotypical, overstated, or overbearingly regal or insecure way, I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear and giggle like a Japanese school girl. He was my favorite thing about this movie and I can't wait to see his solo film. I feel like his presence could create a shift in Hollywood, opening the door for more dark skinned leading roles in WELL CRAFTED science fiction and fantasy films, especially for dark skinned women. If you have black geeky comic book, fantasy or sci-fi loving children...take them to see this, please!

Make no bones about it, between BvS and Civil War we were sold the same film twice, but the latter is far superior in execution than the former. However Marvel has the benefit of several years worth of development and DC clearly is just trying to play catch up in the worst way possible. Take notes Zach Snyder; THIS is how you handle an ensemble cast of comic book giants (hint hint). The film is funny when it can be and serious when it needs to be. Cap and Tony's motivations and stances were CLEARLY defined, you understood exactly why they clashed, you cared about them, and the resolution to their conflict had real weight and consequences.

Because of it's massive cast and character thread high wire juggling act, some will be quick to call this Avengers 2.5. But make no mistake, this is a Captain America's story. He is the protagonist and the main character — Cap experiences the most change and his actions have a substantial and dynamic effect on those around him.

You understand both sides of the conflict and neither was definitively right or wrong. You have a hard time figuring out who you root for. The text was mature without feeling the need to try and be unnecessarily intellectual. Both sides had their reasons, both walked away altered and flawed and it was lovely. Ultimately I was on Cap's side, but I truly felt bad for both him and Tony.

There’s a good mix of humor and drama. That battle royal style airport set piece was amazing. A villain you could sympathize with in some small way. Spider-Man stole the show in the few minutes he was on screen. The fight choreography was complex and hefty. Bucky's arm...idk...I just think his metal arm is cool and I want one. The plot resolution between Cap and Tony. Captain America's films continue to be a driving force for substantial status quo change in the MCU.

Not the revelation that Winter Soldier was, but it’s up there with the best of MARVEL’s ever expanding roster of films.

The pacing was a little off in the first third or so. But even here, I'm hard pressed to find ways to avoid it. The Russo Bros. had to check off a laundry list of elements mandated by the suits at Disney, so I think, like Whedon before them, they did the best they could with what they had. And maybe the next round they will get even better at it...or not...who knows.

At this point, MARVEL is a well oiled machine running at peak efficiency. The films follow a strict formula that somehow remains fun and enjoyable to me despite my waning interest with superheroes in general, and doesn't come off as completely trite, but they ride the line a lot of the time.

There's a lot going on here, and again, a symptom of the ever expanding MCU. Some of the scene transitions and the way some characters are introduced/enter and exit the film feel disjointed. This particularly affected Black Panther and Spider-Man, the latter of which had no real reason to be in this film, despite being really cool to watch. The Black Panther's driving motivation came off a tad cheesy and flat in my opinion. These two were clearly put in here because the MCU sequel set up machine demands it, so I mean, hey...those pesky corporate mandates...what can you do? Am I right Russo Bros?

The airport scene was awesome, as I said. But it felt like filler because, no one was was really trying to hurt anyone...except Black Panther...he was definitely trying to kill Bucky. The real drama, the real thrust of the story, is the between Black Panther and Buck and Tony and Cap -- that's when the meat of the tension arises, sadly, I felt it was too little too late by the time it climaxes.

Speaking of Black Panther, while I enjoyed him, I hope that he doesn't end up becoming this romanticized uber regal mary sue, who is serious all the time and can do no wrong. I'm completely done with our culture's habit of worshiping monarchy as if it's lifestyle one should strive for, It would be great if we gave ACTUAL intellectual and vocational pursuits some time to shine and let the, "I'm rich bitch," philosophy on life, rest a little bit. But anyway, when fans fall in love with a character, particularly one that looks like them (in this case one that looks like me), those fans sometimes tend to project their own insecurities onto that character, balancing all of their hopes and dreams on the shoulders of that character. And if those impossible standards of righteous godhood, demanded of these characters, are not met, accusations of sabotage will begin to fly (despite half of these "fans" not knowing a damn thing about Black Panther before this movie was announced in the first place). That push for intellectual, psychological and physical perfection from people can and will suck the humanity out of a character with as much potential to become internationally iconic as Black Panther. I hope BP doesn't end up a victim of this. Keep him human; keep him interesting...please.

The villain, while sympathetic and fitting, I was unclear as to how he was able to execute a large chunk of his plan.

Well ultimately well shot and choreographed, the first couple of action set pieces could have been just a tiny bit clearer and edited smoother in some spots. Wider shots with less quick cuts so that I could absorb what was going on in those moments a littler better, would have made them golden.

The position some characters took on the overarching conflict seemed forced and didn't make complete sense for their circumstances.