Captain America: Civil War, 2016.
Directed by Joe Russo & Anthony Russo.
Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, William Hurt, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Martin Freeman, Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Brühl, Paul Bettany, Marissa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, and Stan Lee.
Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
Captain America: Civil War isn’t perfect and may have an overstuffed narrative, but your satisfaction detector is beyond busted if you aren’t having fun with this supersized latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe by the time the opposing teams of Captain America and Iron Man race towards each other full speed at an airfield hangar with the sole intention of kicking each other’s asses. That’s the exact moment you can pinpoint that this movie is everything a superhero blockbuster should be and more. This movie right here is the perfect example of why everyone from young children to teenagers to adults and even old people willingly choose to spend hot summer days inside of a dark room with images being projected onto a screen. Captain America: Civil War is the ultimate Hollywood blockbuster.
Taking a dozen superheroes and giving them all highlighted moments in bombastic creative action sequences isn’t the only reason I am gushing over what Anthony and Joe Russo have brought to the table (this is their follow-up to 2014’s highly excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but how the teams are established and the fact that everyone has a pretty good reason for choosing whichever side they prefer. Elizabeth Olsen returns playing Scarlet Witch, and even with limited screen time she has an arc written that sees her character going somewhere. It’s a testament to their talent that the Russo Brothers went in with a clear plan of how to juggle a whopping amount of beloved heroes and heroines. The movie is chaos, but it’s controlled chaos.
It is the new characters that steal Captain America: Civil War though, specifically speaking Tom Holland’s fresh rendition of Spider-Man (not only is the actor actually a teenager this time around, but Holland also excels at delivering quips mid-fight and generally being amusing while also showcasing the kid’s typical awkward personality) and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, who essentially plays both sides in the growing conflict for his own personal reasons. Most importantly, the crucial reason that these characters are considered a massive success is that people will be salivating for their upcoming solo movies by the time the Civil War credits roll. Both have fully intriguing personalities to explore, while also being responsible for some of the most memorable pieces of action found within the whole movie. Not to say that Captain America: Civil War is a major success because of one scene, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to revisit that airfield spectacle; it is like someone taking your inner child’s affection for superheroes battling each other and realizing it on screen with utter perfection.
Going into Captain America: Civil War, the consensus seemed to be that because the central focus of the movie would be spent exploring the conflict of Captain America and Iron Man unable to come to an agreement on how the government should oversee their actions (with some Winter Soldier drama for good measure), all of the secondary characters would be wasted afterthoughts not necessarily adding much to the plot. This is still true to some degree, but nowhere near as bad as some may have anticipated. When it comes down to it, Captain America: Civil War will be remembered for being a movie that really doesn’t solve much, but rather is just one big excuse to create as many superhero dream battles as possible. That’s not to say the movie isn’t well written (because it is and I will get to that), but that the pure satisfaction that comes from seeing a hilariously awesome sequence such as Ant-Man shrinking himself to tinker around inside Iron Man’s suit are moments that comic book and movie fans alike have dreamed of at the very inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There is a villain outside of Captain America and Iron Man (I suppose that technically the one you disagree with could be viewed as an antagonist), but I actually think the less said about him is to the benefit of anyone reading this review. He knows how to pull the strings of both Captain America and Iron Man turning them against each other, but his motives are surprisingly compelling, making him more than your generic disposable Marvel villain that is hell-bent on taking over the world, (because apparently the villain 101 guidebook says that’s what you’re supposed to do). There are red herrings and much more going on then what initially appears on the surface, with Daniel Bruhl obviously being a fantastic actor, managing to make a despicable human being somewhat empathetic in a strange way.
The only real problems with Captain America: Civil War come from the first hour, occasionally getting lost transitioning from scene to scene. Without spoiling too much, there’s a funeral scene towards the beginning that just kind of happens very quickly, not really leaving a lasting impression due to how sudden it arises. It’s the kind of plot point that feels like it should be explored in a more self-contained Captain America flick, not something that is essentially Avengers 2.5. The same also applies for Captain America basically getting a new girlfriend. The movie is called Captain America: Civil War, and Captain America might be the most poorly written thing about it; how is that for irony?
Random plot points aside, it’s at least understandable why both Captain America and Iron Man take up the stances they choose to vehemently fight for; the core of the narrative is well written enough to the point where neither superhero is necessarily wrong. If anything, you will probably flip-flop whose side you are on a few times throughout the movie. And for everyone that can’t take a position, they still get to chew on some very interesting themes exploring the consequences of every action and whatever the reaction may be. It’s really a movie about cause and effect, but with lots and lots of explosions and people in suits using their own unique abilities to smack each other around. As a quick side note, no one character fights the same, ensuring that all of the battles feel refreshing.
A lot could have went wrong with Captain America: Civil War (some actually did considering the first hour is a bit shaky, with the actual ending leaving something to be desired), but once the teams are assembled the movie falls into a groove. The action quickly becomes the most impressive we have seen in a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while also trekking down some unpredictable emotional beats that fill out the extravaganza as the total blockbuster package. If we can continue to get movies as good as Captain America: Civil War, comic book adaptations are not a bubble about to burst; we’re entering a golden age where everything is firing on all cylinders.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★