Captain America: Civil War Review
Remember your excitement in 2008 when you went on YouTube and found out there was a scene after Iron Man‘s credits that you didn’t stay for? The sound quality was awful because it was just someone filming a movie screen with their crappy camera, but you could clearly hear an eye-patched Mace Windu say: “Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” They might not have known it at the time, but Captain America: Civil War is the movie that Marvel Studios has been building towards ever since then.
Loosely based on the Civil War Marvel comics storyline, Captain America: Civil War opens with the current Avengers roster dealing with an intense situation in Nigeria. Things get a little messy, people are killed in the process and governments around the world are ready to hold these superheroes accountable. Secretary of State Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (who you might vaguely remember from The Incredible Hulk), presents them with the Sokovia Accords. This agreement would force all super-powered heroes to work for the government, which would determine when their services are necessary. Tony Stark endorses the plan, while Captain Steve Rogers isn’t so easily convinced. In the meantime, a bombing occurs at the U.N. and Cap’s brainwashed BFF seems to be responsible. It’s up to Captain America and his closest friends to find out who’s behind it all, but it proves to be difficult when the law and half of their teammates are against them.
As you can tell, this is one of the most complicated stories that any film in the MCU has tried to tackle. It’s The Winter Soldier meets The Avengers, which makes for a tricky balancing act. The cast list for the first Avengers film actually seems small in comparison. Luckily, this doesn’t hinder Civil War at all and each character is given their proper time to shine. It would have been easy for Captain America to get overshadowed in his own movie, but the focus always returns to his relationship with Bucky. Even with all of the new and returning faces, it still feels like a sequel to Winter Soldier. It also helps that Chris Evans is as charming as ever in the titular role.
Speaking of charming, Robert Downey Jr. is in top form as Tony Stark. We’ve seen him play this same role in six other films, but this could easily be the best. He’s still delivering plenty of wisecracks, but his performance seems much more vulnerable this time around. I know we all had mixed feelings about the Iron Man sequels, but I hope to see Downey playing some form of Tony Stark for at least another decade.
The other returning characters make a big splash as well, especially Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie and Paul Rudd. Olsen proves that she’s destined for stardom, both in and outside of the MCU. Scarlet Witch’s powers also provide some of the movie’s coolest special effects. Mackie continues to show why he’s such a great addition to the franchise as well. Some of the biggest applause/laugh breaks came during Falcon’s interactions with Sebastian Stan as Bucky. Paul Rudd is his usual scene-stealing self as Ant-Man. It’s still hard to believe that they tapped one of Hollywood’s biggest (no pun intended) comedians to play this role, but it’s refreshing to see him interact with the other Avengers.
Civil War also introduces us to a handful of new characters, the most noteworthy being Black Panther and Spider-Man. Black Panther actually ends up being a pretty important part of the plot, which is good news because he’s a total badass. Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa very solemnly, which is a nice change of pace in a universe where most of the heroes are known for playful jabs and banter. Boseman has always been such a strong talent, so it’s nice to see him hold his own with Marvel’s biggest stars. If I were in charge of Marvel Studios, I would be fast tracking that Black Panther movie right about now. We also get our first look at the new Spider-Man. He’s much less crucial to the plot than T’Challa, but words can’t describe how amazing it is to finally see Spidey alongside all of our favorite heroes. After years of seeing 30-year-old men try to play the high school-aged hero, we finally get to see a Peter Parker who’s actually a teenager. Could Tom Holland be the best onscreen Spider-Man so far? It’s too early to say, but he’s definitely well on his way. I’m just glad they skipped the radioactive spider crap that we’ve seen countless times. We’re introduced to Peter at the perfect time in his life. He’s already Spider-Man, but he’s only had his powers for a few months and is still rocking the homemade costume. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m excited to see another Spidey movie.
Civil War promised a battle royal between Earth’s mightiest heroes and it definitely makes good on it. We get some awesome chase scenes and some of the craziest hand-to-hand combat ever seen in a Marvel movie, but the big face-off is what’s worth the price of admission. Chances are you’ve heard about the big “airport fight” scene. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s easily the greatest superhero fight ever filmed. Much like the rest of the movie, each character gets a chance to do what they do best and there’s no shortage of epic moments. Of course, this ends up being a tough act to follow considering it’s not the final battle of the movie. Some might beg to differ, but I think the third act holds up pretty well. The characters onscreen may have been taking all the hits, but it felt like I was the one taking an emotional punch to the gut.
My one complaint is the same for most of Marvel’s films and that’s that the villain is underwhelming. I appreciate the reasoning behind his evil schemes, but Daniel Brühl just isn’t all that interesting as Zemo. He didn’t bother me, but I think he could have been a little more memorable if he’d played him a little more over the top. Luckily, this movie isn’t really about the villain.
Captain America: Civil War is everything an event film should be. The script effortlessly makes perfect use of each character and the fight choreography is some of the best we’ve seen in any MCU film. The world building for future movies doesn’t seem forced like it did in Age of Ultron and every actor turns in an A+ performance. Honestly, what more could you ask for? Now, just imagine what Infinity War is going to be like…