Once you sift through all of the hype and fully digest Captain America: Civil War, it manages to be one of Marvel’s better films, and perhaps their best film, to date. It caps off perhaps the best superhero trilogy of all time, and leaves you wanting more. Like, a whole lot more.
Writers Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely, along with the Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe) directing the film, show us that they understand how to make a film where we can care for essentially all of the dozen or so characters (some old and some new) and they make things work easily in the allotted two and a half hour window without the feel of things being too cramped. Whedon proved it could be done in the first Avengers movie, and now that he’s moved on, the Russos have crafted a more befitting Avengers sequel than Age of Ultron.
While the film does have the longest running time of any Marvel movie ever, it doesn’t feel like it, and speeds along pretty quickly.
There’s a lot of characters for what is essentially a Captain America movie is, but somehow the Russo Brothers have managed to give each one just enough screen time to, that it justifies their existence. What this film doesn’t do, and which something Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice did, is that it doesn’t just have the likes of Spider-Man and Black Panther present as a glorified cameo just to set up future movies. In fact, Black Panther’s presence is mandatory for the story of Captain America: Civil War to work, and for the narrative to move forward. His screen time is a lot longer than you’d expect.
At the end of the last movie, the Avengers lineup looked a bit different. Captain America (Chris Evans) appears to now have led a group of “New Avengers” on several missions between the end of Age of Ultron and the start of Civil War.
It appears the core lineup is now Cap, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) appears to be backup…mostly and joining in occasionally.
The story picks up with a superb opening sequence with the team in Lagos where they appear hot on the trail of the elusive Crossbones (Frank Grillo), one of Cap’s classic nemeses from the comic books who was teased towards the end of Winter Soldier.
During the operation, Scarlet Witch makes a move to save Cap’s life, that in turn accidentally claims the lives of several innocent civilians.
This act proves to be the final straw to the United States government who feel some type of way about having their team of super-powered operatives making a mess of the entire world (see just about every “phase two” MCU film, but especially Age of Ultron).
The “Sokovia Accords” are passed as legislation requiring all superhumans to register with the United Nations or face retirement. This divides the Avengers in two, with the ever-charismatic Stark convincing old pals Rhodes (War Machine), Vision, Romanoff (Black Widow), and a pubescent Peter Parker (Tom Holland, making his Spidey-debut) that oversight is necessary for responsible heroism.
Cap, on the other hand, foresees a future in which politicians and bureaucrats stand in the way of necessary action, or, even worse, order unnecessary action. Considering he spent the last picture unearthing the villainous Hydra’s ties to almost all levels of government, can you blame him?
Rogers recruits Bucky, Falcon, Maximoff (Scarlet Witch), Hawkeye, and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) to take a stand and rage against the machine.
The wild card is Black Panther (Chad Boseman) who really isn’t on anyone’s side, but rather on the side opposite of the Winter Soldier since he believes that he is the man responsible for his father’s death.
Although this movie is stylistically and tonally different than Batman v Superman, it doesn’t stop one from comparing the two movies. Those, like myself , who may have been a little disappointed in the marquee fight in DC’s movie, should be more than satisfied with how Marvel was able to pull off Civil War.
The fight scenes looked incredible and contain some of the hardest-hitting action of the franchise. The airport fight scene they showed us in the trailer was only just a small taste of that particular battle, and thankfully the trailer didn’t give away the few twists that were in that scene itself.
Fans eagerly anticipating the arrivals of Black Panther and Spider-Man can rest assured, that they both were handled perfectly.
Civil War left me wanting to watch the Black Panther solo movie immediately while our now-third cinematic Spider-Man proves to be the most comics-accurate of the bunch. If you originally hated the idea of yet another rebooted Spider-Man, wait until you see Civil War.
Also, Civil War features one of the best performances from Robert Downey Jr. in the series yet. He’s solid throughout, but the film’s final few scenes show off his immense talent. He’s fantastic in this. Chris Evans is also solid as Cap, while Daniel Brühl brilliantly brings some darkness to proceedings as the new villain Zemo.
I loved that even though with all of these characters and emotions being thrown around, that this movie still felt like a Captain America movie throughout. I hate to say it but I kept thinking to myself that this movie probably could have worked as a direct 2-part sequel (combined with The Winter Solider) to the first Avengers movie, which I would have preferred very much over Age of Ultron.
So, what’s wrong with all of this? Not much. However, I felt that Spider-Man was forced. Let me explain.
Even though I’d give Spider-Man’s portrayal by Holland an A+, I felt more like his reason for becoming involved in this “civil” dispute among grownups a D- at best. It didn’t take away anything from the story but I felt that more should have been explained as to why he became involved other than because Tony Stark asking him to.
I understand the urgency of Marvel needing to throw Spider-Man into the mix quickly since partially reacquiring his cinematic rights but felt that his inclusion in this “war” was forced.
Whereas Black Panther’s character was essential to the plotline and moved the story along, there was this pressing need for me at least, to come to better terms with Spider-Man’s involvement, the other new guy in this film.
Chalk that up though to me reading every single comic book issue tied into the Civil War story line (over 106 different issues according to my count) and me knowing that Spider-Man was perhaps the third most important figure behind Captain America and Iron Man, when it came to Civil War.
Chalk that up to the director proclaiming that Spider-Man would play a huge part in this movie, so I expected more.
But most of all, chalk this up to Holland’s performance because he IS Spider-Man now and in the foreseeable future. His performance was just that great. I can’t wait to see him literally grow into this role and become the face of the Marvel cinematic universe.
In the end, Civil War lives up to the hype. It’s a worthwhile journey despite feeling fundamentally like another stepping stone of introducing new characters for Phase 3. Still, these characters are great, the performances are stellar, and the action is extremely satisfying and worth more than the price of admission at your local theater.