Cast – Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Emily VanCamp, Daniel Brühl, Marisa Tomei
Alluring element – A cinematic version of one of the greatest group stories in Marvel’s entire catalog Check it out if you liked – Captain America: The Winter Soldier, comic books, good movies
Plot – 9 Acting – 9 Representation of Genre – 10 Cinematography – 9 Effects/Environment – 10 Captivity – 10 Logical consistency – 9 Originality/Creativity – 9 Soundtrack/Music – 8 Overall awesomeness – 10
What a better way to review one of the best movies in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than on Free Comic Book Day? This is going to seem like less of a review, and more of a love letter by the time we are done with it because Captain America: Civil War has somehow been able to bring back all the magic we felt was lost along the way in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The formulaic approach that has made the last 2-3 Marvel movies fun yet easily digestible has been altered – or better yet, completely rewritten. Captain America: Civil War has everything you would ever want in a superhero movie.
Phase Three is still accessible to the masses
Civil War has now set the bar so high for movies that the bar is afraid to look down (word to Pharoahe Monch!), and it did that by putting out a movie that casual fans will enjoy and understand without having to turn to their nerd friends every five minutes for confirmation of some reference to an obscure issue 37 years ago. Nobody wants to watch a movie like that coughWarner Bros*cough. This is the first movie of Marvel’s ambitious Phase Three, and a baker’s dozen in the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yet somehow, the Russo brothers are able to corral all of that structural knowledge and still make the story plausible to an audience that might be trying out their first superhero movie altogether (although, really, who cares about those people? Get with the program).
Not your father’s Civil War
While, sure, Captain America: The Winter Soldier took a few liberties with the storyline from the comic book, the movie was still largely a direct reflection of the graphic novel. This made it great in some ways, but also limited the experience for those that enjoy both. In Civil War, however, the story has almost completely diverged from the 2006 Mark Millar story. And it’s genius. S.H.I.E.L.D. is not involved, but the UN is – allowing Wakanda to get their hands in the mix. Spidey still gets his new tech suit from Stark. The mutants’ storyline is covered by Vision and Scarlet Witch… There are further weavings of the movie and the book’s storyline, and none of them feel forced or require unreasonable leaps of logic.
Quite possibly the most impressive feat was the movie’s ability to carry a dozen characters without leaving anybody out. The main focus of the movie remains the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man, but each of the character’s motivations and moral compass is explored; it’s not as black and white as picking sides like it was in comic book, and there are several poignant and valid discussions throughout the film on both sides that make viewers question the morality of/obligation to the situation at hand. Instead of presenting a line in the sand with a Patriot Act-style Registration Act revolving around secret identities, the movie broadcasts a very relatable and humanitarian approach to the underlining issue of oversight.
The Red Herring
From Red Skull to Ultron, Marvel movies have seemed to always rely on a catastrophic, world-threatening villain that was easy to hate and even easier to forget. There’s fallout, sure, but the MCU has basically been running through their entire gamut of villains to give the heroes a proportional run for their money. In Civil War, though, it is the surprising Baron Zemo that does more damage to the team than any alien or robot invasion could. Zemo is portrayed very differently in the movie than his paperback counterpart, Baron Zemo. It continually feels, in the film, that there is a much deeper threat than Zemo at play, but it’s never quite obvious what the threat is until the end.
Instead of being the ignorant zealot that most of the human villains have turned out to be, Zemo turns out to be a normal man, consumed by greed and hatred, apathetic to the collateral damage his plan doles out. It’s hard not to feel for where the guy is coming from by the end of Civil War, and he’s been the only villain in any MCU movie that shows enough humanity to not seem like a deranged idiot looking for more power (see: Yellowjacket in Ant-Man, Romulus in Guardians, HYDRA in Winter Soldier, Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3… the list goes on).
The New Guys
Captain America: Civil War introduces two iconic characters, one of which has never seen the silver screen or a major audience before in Black Panther, and Spider-Man, a character whose expectations were so high going in that he was pretty much expected to fail. The introduction of Black Panther felt very natural, and it gave audiences sufficient background story on a character – while relatively new to moviegoers, is celebrating his 50th birthday this July. He is portrayed as strong-willed, wise, and an extremely capable fighter. As for Spider-Man, the young Peter Parker could do anything but fail. In fact, he won spectacularly, possibly even stealing the entire show. Tom Holland’s portrayal of the young, nerdy teenager was spot on; he was nervous, yet witty, a huge nerd, and yammered the entire time he fought. Both characters are introduced with enough background to go on, eliminating the need for a full-on origin story to present in their solo films.
So how good is it?
Is is hard to believe that Captain America: Civil War was not even five minutes shorter than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (sorry to keep dragging their name through the mud, but they need to take note)? Well, thanks to a well thought-out story, plenty of action, and humorous interludes, the pacing of Civil War is always changing. There was no awkward posing in the rain or long, constipated looks out the window. On the contrary, the show kept moving, using actual story-telling in-between the fantastic action scenes. By letting the movies’ two main protagonists/antagonists(?) drive the deeper, darker storyline, it allowed the massive supporting cast to showcase their new talents and crack all the jokes. It was a perfect balance, one missing from Age of Ultron, where it felt Hawkeye was the only one there for comic relief.
Thematically, Civil War is revolutionary. It asks questions of our heroes on a deeper level, and invites conversation that transcend the realm of “who was the coolest character?” While Cap, Bucky, Tony, and Zemo are all chasing or escaping the memories that have brought them into this situation, the rest of the team is forced into the complex situation of considering their own scruples. All the while, Marvel is able to put a very upbeat and fun vibe on the surface of the movie. As a fan, if you just wanna see people beat the crap out of each other and make jokes, Civil War will fulfill that requirement without droning on about responsibility. And if you want to see Vision deliberate with Wanda Maximoff about the social stigma of enhanced people (definitely not mutants) while wearing a cardigan? You’re covered there, too.
All pictures belong to Disney and Marvel Comics.