Can We Talk About How Hot Wagner Moura Is in ‘Civil War’?

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/A24
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/A24

Alex Garland’s Civil War is a cinematic lightning rod in a historic thunderstorm—and the tempest, in this case, is “being alive in America right now.”

The film follows tenacious war reporters who are capturing the last gasps of U.S. civilization at the climax of a new civil war. Brought on by polarization, extremism, and zealotry, the fighting has ravaged the country.

Civil War topped the box office over the weekend, setting a new record for hip studio A24, a victory lap navigated through choppy waters, as the film has sparked relentless discourse—even before the public was able to see it.

There has been heated discussion about the film’s politics, or if it was even political at all. There has been talk about the extreme violence and how it helps or hurts the film’s message—and, yes, questions of whether the film even has one. There have been passionate opinions about how journalism and journalists are portrayed, whether Nick Offerman’s despotic president does or does not represent Trump, and, of course, what we’re to make of the film’s jolt of an ending.

Wagner Moura in A24’s Civil War.

Wagner Moura


Those have all been worthy conversations. I’m glad we’ve had them. I hope they continue as more people have the opportunity to watch the film. Mostly, though, I’m relieved to have those big topics out of the way, so we can finally focus on the most important element of the movie: how hot Wagner Moura is in it.

Watching Civil War is a visceral experience. The action sequences are stressful, immersive, and, often, graphic and grotesque. So imagine my surprise that, right alongside extreme nausea and discomfort, the most intense feeling I had while watching the movie was horniness. (My therapy appointment has been booked, and my therapist has been forwarded a link to this piece.)

Jesse Plemons’ Disturbing ‘Civil War’ Scene Will Haunt You

Moura has a history of inciting crushes on characters where you’d never expect. (Don’t act like you didn’t swoon over his Pablo Escobar in Narcos.) The grand tradition continues with Civil War, in which the Brazilian actor plays Joel, a war journalist who partners with photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst) to capture the atrocities unfolding in their war-torn country—something they’re dejected to see happening in their home after spending decades documenting international crises and the devastating impact on humanity.

Both Joel and Lee, at this point in their careers, approach this fulcrum moment for democracy—a civil war on their turf—with a mixture of resigned cynicism and zeal.

Fox News Is Going to Have a Field Day With ‘Civil War’

They’ve been around the block, which is quite the cutesy way to put “miraculously survived countless bombings, rapid gunfire, and kidnapping attempts.” This is an unprecedented event for modern America, but the circumstances are familiar to them. More than Lee, however, Joel’s fervor for the job revives whenever they’re back in the thick of it. Combat is an intoxicant for him. The first time that he, along with Lee and neophyte photographer Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), get the chance to embed with some insurgents and experience crossfire on their road trip, his eyes alight and his entire body language changes. It’s almost as if he’s aroused—perhaps in solidarity with me watching him on screen—by just the potential of a thrilling reporting adventure. His wily machismo as he confronts danger, and his steely competence in the chaos of a melee, is, for lack of better words, hot as fuck.

One of the more complicated and, as such, interesting debates about Civil War is whether it, by virtue of being an entertainment product, glamorizes violence, acts of war, or the kind of depravity that results in a body count as alarming as the one in the film.

Wagner Moura and Cailee Spaeny in A24’s Civil War.

Wagner Moura and Cailee Spaeny

Wagner Moura and Cailee Spaeny in A24’s Civil War.

When a production like this lays violent siege to a replica of the White House, it’s adrenaline-inducing and, let’s face it, fun to watch. When a war reporter charges into military crossfire, hopscotches through relentless explosions, because he feels the duty to document it for the citizens of the world, it’s entirely badass. There’s a swagger to Joel, especially in how he behaves during his final interaction with the president, that makes you want to be him, date him, or exalt him—wherever you may fall on that attraction spectrum. Is that a romanticization that undermines a bleak, harrowing reality? Is that irresponsible in a film that’s meant to warn against war and its collateral damage?

Maybe, and those questions should be interrogated. But when Moura is wearing his tiny blue T-shirt, it’s hard to care as much.

Why is Joel wearing a T-shirt that is so tight and undersized that it appears he purchased it when he was a freshman in high school? I refuse to question something when the result is so beautiful. Is it utterly basic to be entranced by a swashbuckling, mustachioed man whose biceps bulge from under his T-shirt and who scoffs at danger while a cigarette dangles from his mouth and a bottle of whiskey hangs from his hip? Utterly and completely. Is it gauche to focus on that when there is so much seriousness to discuss when it comes to Civil War? Without a doubt. But this is my truth, and if there is one thing this film taught me, it’s that the truth matters.

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