Captain America: Civil War

Reviewed by Mitch Burns


Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, William Hurt, Frank Grillo, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Marisa Tomei, and Daniel Bruhl.

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*Below I have constructed a rough outline of the plot, I consider it to be Spoiler Free, nothing more than what is shown in the trailers. I will inform you, the reader, when I decide to enter spoiler territory.

Captain America: Civil War or Avengers 3, you can choose to call it either as both titles fit perfectly. If we’re going to call it Avengers 3, it’s the best Avengers movie yet, if we want to call it Captain America, it is the second best Captain America film, after Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Following the events of New York in the first avengers, and the events in Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where there were civilian casualties, some people around the world don’t see The Avengers as quite the Superheroes they claim to be.

Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is leading his team of Avengers, Falcon/ Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), on a mission in Lagos. When Scarlet Witch attempts to save Captain America from an explosion, she inadvertently causes the deaths of a few Wakandan Humanitarian workers.

This is a breaking point, The U.S Secretary of State, General Ross (William Hurt), informs the Avengers that the United Nations is looking to pass a ruling that the Avengers would henceforth be governed by a panel on the United Nations, called The Sokovia Accords. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with the accords and tries to convince the other Avengers to sign. Captain America does not agree, and he’s not alone. Each Avenger has their own reasons for agreeing or not agreeing.

With a major divide among the group of superheroes, it becomes apparent that they must fight for what they believe in.

Civil War has a rough time finding it’s footing, but I don’t blame the writers or directors as they had very rocky ground to work on here. This was a big story to tell, with a lot of characters. It’s a Captain America story through the heart of it, but it deals with a lot more than any standalone MCU film has, such as almost every other Avenger and a lot of Iron Man.

The film suffers under the weight of all it’s characters and dauntingly large story. Tt has tonal and pacing issues galore, but it shouldn’t bother most; and with a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score I see it isn’t. I do think that Civil War could have used a tiny bit more editing and some tightening up a bit. Particularly some scenes involving the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and our new villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). I think many people can admit to that, although I will also admit that most every scene felt  tangentially necessary, or was at interesting/fun.

What makes this movie great, and made Avengers: Age of Ultron a nudge above average, are the characters. In Civil War we’re given the Avengers, minus Thor and Hulk, but adding some new faces on the team such as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). On top of three new faces on the Avengers docket, we also get more time with Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) who only just made their debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a larger amount of screentime for War Machine (Don Cheadle) who has honestly been a very minor character thus far.

It’s reach a point in the MCU where I don’t expect much out of these films, they probably won’t ever be on my best of the year lists, but I will continue to see them for the characters.

I’m a fan of Captain America/Steve Rogers. In my opinion he’s the most compelling character next to Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, and both have a large amount of screen-time here. I’m also very intrigued by Scarlet Witch and Vision, as their powers are obviously very strong and interesting, and while Civil War gives a nice dose of each character, it felt like only the tip of the iceberg.

It isn’t until the latter half of the film, when the new characters and a returning character appear, that we get any humor. In a series of films that seem to keep a jokey tone, it was quite a relief to see the arrival of these characters. I was almost begging for them to arrive, and with them a dose of laughter. (non)Spoiler: There are laughs.

Now I will jump into some *spoilers*, if you aren’t interested in spoilers, scroll to the bottom to see my grade.

Civil War is tense, it is the only film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where I couldn’t predict where the movie was headed. I was consistently surprised, and I I’d be lying if the final 20-25 minutes didn’t leave me shocked.

Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) was an interesting villain, and he’s the main reason I’d like to see this again, as I didn’t understand his motives, or where his story was headed until the final moments. Maybe others picked up on parts or all of it earlier, but much of his story-line remained cloaked in mystery for me.

The best part of Captain America: Civil War is it’s ability to make the viewer never comfortably settle on one side of the argument. Once you feel like you may align with Team Captain America, then you’re conflicted, then you side with Team Iron Man (and repeat). This was my experience anyhow, and I loved it. It’s a film packed with emotion and tension, one moment I was rooting for one side, the next I was pissed off at that very team, It’s quite literally a roller coaster of emotion, and in that regard, it succeeds.

Now, this is very spoilery: Tony Stark watches the video of his mother and father being killed by a brainwashed bucky, while an un-brainwashed Bucky stands 10 feet way. This is the most tense & emotional scene in the MCU thus far.
I wanted Stark to just kill Bucky at that point, I didn’t care anymore and I actually believed Steve would just let Tony do it. Then we come to learn that Rogers knew the whole time. I was quite shocked to then see Steve and Bucky beat the shit out of Iron Man. I thought Iron Man was actually dead for a moment.
This epic battle was irritatingly interrupted by cut scenes of Zemo and Black Panther, something that would have worked better as one scene after the fight.

Speaking of Black Panther, we’re supposed to be getting a Black Panther movie, but I don’t see how it can be an origin movie, which I would be fine with. Civil War really served as Black Panthers origin movie(?), the death of T’Challa’s father and his urge to seek revenge are what creates Black Panther. Right? Unless Black Panther was a creation T’Challa’s before now and that will be a movie on its own.

Well I must digress, as I’ve written over 1000 words and I don’t have much more to say. Civil War was fun, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I figured I would, as it took turns and made decisions unexpected by me, which is really all I can ask for with these movies anymore.

p.s. After seeing Civil War, I am slightly optimistic for the new Spider-man franchise. Tom Holland did well, so we shall see. I am not getting my hopes up.

Grade: A-


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