Alright let’s just dive in and not waste any time.
Captain America: Civil War is the 13th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (yes really) and we see our new Avengers lineup out there in the world, doing missions and taking down bad guys. We’ve got the leaders Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), alongside heroes like War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), the Vision (Paul Bettany), Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Things turn a little sideways when Rogers’ brainwashed friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) shows up and seems to be doing some nefarious stuff again. This triggers the United Nations stepping in and wanting to reign in the Avengers and put them under government oversight. As the conflict progresses, Captain America and Iron Man end up at two very different sides of the argument and end up fracturing the team in half, which results in a few old friends returning (Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man) and a few new friends getting roped in (Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man). We also have Daniel Bruhl as a man named Helmut Zemo who seems to be manipulating the events of the movie to a certain degree.
So wow, that’s a lot of people, and I even left off a few. Is this movie able to juggle all that?
Civil War is a contender for one of the best Marvel movies to date. I’m still contemplating it and thinking it over, so it’s hard to say. Is it the best? I’d still probably probably rank Guardians of the Galaxy as the best, with The Winter Soldier, Avengers, and now Civil War right behind. But that’s still saying a lot.
At its core, this movie is a Captain America movie, about his relationship with Bucky Barnes and with Tony Stark. There may be a thousand people in this movie, but it always comes back to these core characters and that’s what makes this movie work. It’s emotional, it’s intense, and it’s a really cool way to see our characters now that we’ve really gotten to know them. The “villain” of the movie might be pulling some of the strings but really, our main characters are both protagonist and antagonist. And who is right? You will swing wildly from side to side as the events play out, both having real arguments for whether or not they should give up control to the government.
Chris Evans is steadfast as Captain America, holding firm to what he believes, just like he always has. The standout performance though is Robert Downey Jr, giving us a very different look at Tony Stark. This Stark is angry and confused and doesn’t want to fight but he doesn’t see any choice. He doesn’t joke as much this time around (giving up that mantle to both Spider-Man and Ant-Man to carry that burden) but instead Stark is a dark character and willing to do what it takes to bring in Steve Rogers and his band of vigilantes.
Aside from a few small encounters, the Avengers really just fight each other, and when you leave the theater, it’ll be these fight scenes that you’re talking about. Each character has multiple moments that you’ll want to talk about with your friends. The big battle is a 20-minute setpiece at an airport that is hands down the coolest fight to appear on the big screen, at least in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a brawl, it’s intense, and everyone brings all their moves to the table.
We’re introduced to two new characters this time around. This movie almost centers around Black Panther, serving as a great launching point for this character. Chadwick Boseman delivers a great performance, though the nature of Black Panther is very stoic and measured. When he fights though, this character lights up the screen, giving a real challenge to heavy hitters like Cap and Bucky. Our other new character is Spider-Man, who doesn’t play too big of a role, but enough to convince us that this new Spider-Man might be the real deal. Is he the best Spider-Man yet? I don’t know if I’d go to that extreme but I’m intrigued and excited. He’s young, which folks in the theater were a little confused by, but I think it’s a cool starting point for that new franchise.
A few advanced reviews I saw said that Daniel Bruhl as the villain was really underwhelming. This probably is true for fans of the comic books because he is literally nothing like his comic book counterpart, so that’s likely going to upset some folks. As far as his motivations though, I thought his part was perfect. There are small things that you don’t put any significance to during the first watching that make a second viewing much more compelling for him.
I feel like I can keep going and going… which is a good sign. This movie has some great dramatic moments (especially in the climax), yet the action scenes are some of the best Marvel has ever done. It has everything.
What doesn’t work?
There are only like a few nitpicky things. I don’t think the CGI always looked great, especially Spider-Man and whenever someone in an iron suit took their helmet off (usually Tony Stark) it looked pretty noticeable.
Also something about the ending of the film, like literally the last few scenes, something felt lacking. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but I left with a “Hmm…” feeling rather than a “OMG” feeling but in retrospect, I think it’s a fantastic movie overall.
People were hesitant. All these characters… there’s no way this movie can do them all justice. PLUS adding in Spider-Man and Black Panther? Well, they did it. This movie has all the dramatic moments you want from an intense duality like this, as well as also delivering some of the best superhero action sequences we’ve ever seen. This movie has everything and nails most of it. I’d rank it in the top 4 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though where it fits in that ranking is still up for discussion.