Captain America: Civil War. The movie featuring so many Avengers, that it might as well be the third installment of the Avengers franchise. But this film centers on Captain America, and, with the Steve-Bucky storyline so prominently featured, the film is very much a Captain America film. Cap vs. Stark has been a long time coming. The two have fought since they met in the first Avengers film; and this newest installment almost had to prove to the audience that, yes, these two were friends. You just may not have noticed amid the bickering they did in every movie. So, to review our film, Paul and I decided to take sides ourselves and give you our review from each side of the divide.
Ashley – Team Cap
Okay, I realize I’m supposed to be Team Cap, but I have to get this off my chest: THEY FINALLY DID SPIDER-MAN RIGHT. This is the first iteration of Spidey on film that I actually liked. Played beautifully by Tom Holland, he’s young, awkward, but still snarky and smart as a whip and it’s perfect. Now, onto the rest of my review.
At first, I was pretty worried about the film. The first action sequence was jarring and the camerawork seems to have been done by disciples of the Jason Bourne School of Cinematography. I literally have a pounding headache while I write this, and that shaky first action segment was a major factor. I particularly hated the way in which they used Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson). It almost felt as though they were trying to cover up her inability to fight. At this point, Johansson is a veteran of action films. Not only is this her fifth time playing Natasha Romanoff, she also kicked ass in the film Lucy. I don’t know what happened, but ScarJo’s fighting in most of this film was subpar and she was mostly a nonfactor with the exception of a cute tête-à-tête with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
This film was pretty bloated, even without Thor and the Hulk (who are mentioned several times). You’ve got Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Ant Man (Paul Rudd), Black Widow (Johansson) and Hawkeye (Renner), plus the titular characters Cap (Chris Evans), Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan). Then you have to add the introduction to the king of Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-man (Holland). That’s a lot of characters. Yet, despite the bloat, you don’t ever really feel overburdened by them. You get a ton of cute scenes – Vision trying to connect with Wanda, Bucky and Sam bickering, Rhodes making fun of Stark (courtesy of Stan Lee) – as well as funny ones (basically every scene with Paul Rudd’s Ant Man and Tom Holland’s Spider-man). Chadwick Boseman shines as T’Challa. He’s regal and yet still young and inexperienced, and Boseman commands every scene he is in.
Aside from a long list of characters, there’s also a lot of storyline to cover. There’s Crossbones (Frank Grillo), the manhunt for Bucky, the Sokovia Accords, the split between Steve and Tony, and a bit about super duper Russian spy types. And yet the pacing of the film never feels too rushed. Every story runs its due course and, with the exception of the Crossbones storyline (which served a purpose, but I think got shortchanged a bit), everything flowed together nicely and was fairly easy to follow and understand.
Aside from Spider-man, my favorite part of the film had to be the relationship between Cap and Bucky. Evans and Stan have fantastic chemistry together, and their bond is palpable. At the same time, you can also feel Tony’s sense of betrayal when Cap goes all out to protect Bucky. Both Tony and Steve believe that they are right and the other is wrong and their conviction sells the film. Both characters are pushed to the edge, especially Cap. You can see and understand the argument for both sides, which is often very hard to do in a film format. The Russo Brothers, who directed the film, really sold the divide between these two iconic characters, while honoring and respecting their history. In all, I really enjoyed this film, and I look forward to seeing it again.
4.5 Shields out of 5
Since I was a boy, I have dreamed of superheroes. They were incorruptible, impenetrable, and unflappable. Whether it was Superman saving Lois at the last second, Spider-man slinging in to stop the Green Goblin or the X-Men standing up for the humans that feared and hated them, superheroes make the world a better place. At least on the surface. What happens when these champions of justice leave unintended friendly fire casualties in their wake? As one of my all time favorite books asks: Who watches the Watchmen?
This question is at the heart of Captain America: Civil War. The Avengers, led by Captain America/Steve Rogers and Iron Man/Tony Stark, have defeated god-like adversaries against extraordinary odds, saving millions of lives in the process. But the losses are never considered. That changes when the Avengers are on a mission to stop Crossbones from pulling off a biological weapons heist. The team of Cap, Falcon, Black Widow, and the Scarlet Witch are successful in defeating the bad guy, but inadvertently blow half a building to hell in the process. Meanwhile, Tony is confronted after a speech at MIT by a grieving mother whose son was killed in the events at Sokovia. As a result, the United Nations has created an international set of rules to which the Avengers must abide, or retire.
This initiative is led by Tony and Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross. During the summit, an assassin sets off a bomb, killing King T’Chaka, ruler of Wakanda. The assassin is identified as Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier. His son, T’Challa, takes on the persona of the Black Panther and swears revenge. Eventually Bucky is captured and is set up with a psychoanalyst to separate his Winter Soldier programming from the man, but this analyst is not what he seems, leading to Bucky’s escape, aided by Captain America. This firmly pits Iron Man and Cap on opposing sides. Cap learns that there is a far more sinister plot behind all of this with the possibility of 5 more unstoppable Winter Soldiers being unleashed on the world. After a hard fought battle between both sides, Rogers and Barnes escape to track this mystery man. Stark comes to the realization that there is more to this scenario but is then confronted with a heartbreaking truth that could be the final nail in the Avengers coffin. Nothing was as it seemed and the final motive behind this entire plot was heart wrenchingly devastating.
The question of super hero morality was also front and center in this year’s Batman v Superman as the Dark Knight believing Superman needed to be put in check, but with nowhere near the effectiveness of Civil War. Directors Anthony & Joe Russo do an exemplary job of creating real emotion to the story, creating a divided point of view. I could see both Tony and Steve’s sides to the argument that there should be boundaries set for the Avengers and yet the autonomy to fight for justice where and when it is needed. I feared that the movie would be overstocked with characters but the transitions flowed seamlessly, culminating in the big airport fight scene. Especially gratifying was the way the film handled the introduction of Spider-man, who actor Tom Holland nails. We finally have our uber geeky Peter Parker. Black Panther was a fantastic addition, with both a warrior spirit and a profound regal air. There was nothing lacking and little to find fault with. The Captain America series of Marvel films have been the greatest stand alone movies in the MU, and this is no different. And do yourself a favor, stick around until the very end, you won’t be disappointed.
5 Webs out of 5