Captain America: Civil War Review

AN EPIC MARVEL BLOCKBUSTER


 

Throughout the years the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into a dominating force, seizing lucrative opportunities at the box-office as well as establishing its cannon of superheroes in its cinematic universe. Since Iron Man back in 2008, Marvel Studios has given millions of its fans and moviegoers, incredible and imaginative blockbuster stories of good and evil, but has given us (the viewers) characters that are well-rounded, who are more than just simple caricatures from the comic books, but ones that are fully realized in a creative and theatrical way. Dozens of iconic characters have graced the screen (Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, The Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) as all of these characters have detailed and intricate backstories within their own solo movies, with some coming together in superhero team movies (i.e. The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron). Of these characters, two have striking leadership qualities and constantly at odd with each other (ideology-wise). Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is constantly measuring himself against his father’s legacy and finding himself at the epicenter of chaos and destruction, while Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers has steadfast belief of right and wrong and battling against the politics and the needs of an ever-changing modern society. Now, at the beginning of the 2016 summer season at the movies, the sparks ignite between the two titular heroes with the highly anticipated movie Captain America: Civil War. Is this truly the “best summer blockbuster movie ever made” (as some are calling it) or has the inherit hype of it all blown this Marvel feature way out of proportion?

 

THE STORY


One year after the evens of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) is trying to maintain his position as protector to the innocent as he leads the Avengers into battle against enemy terrorist, partnering with Sam Wilson / Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), James Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle), Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Vision (Paul Bettany). Coming to the realization that Cap’s old friend Bucky Barnes / the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is a behind several recent attacks across the globe, masterminded by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), Rogers hopes to rescue his longtime friend, hoping to salvage what humanity remains within. Unfortunately, enlight of recent global destruction involving the Avengers, U.S. Secretary of State Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) wants to contain the superhero involvement, enacting the policing agreement known as the Sokovia Accords. While Rogers isn’t convinced the law’s purpose of the Sokovia Accords, Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), is splitting the Avengers interest (standing firmly behind the law of the Accords). This, of course, triggers a massive division between Rogers and Stark as fellow Avengers (old and new ones) are forced into to choose a side as Zemo works to divide and conquer them all.

THE GOOD / THE BAD


What can I say…. I’m huge Marvel movie fan (that’s including the ones within before the MCU were formed, the ones within the MCU, and the ones within the X-Men universe). So, naturally, I was definitely going to see Civil War when it came back (first night and first showing). I remember when the announced that Captain America 3 was going to become Captain America: Civil War I was definitely intrigued by it. Sadly, I did not read the Civil War comics (I heard that they are good. I might have to read them), but I got the gist of it all. The trailers (both the teaser and theatrical trailer) were incredible awesome (having major nerdgasm moments every time I watched them) and seeing all the Marvel superheroes on-screen was gleeful joy for me. I even put this movie as my number one pick on Jason’s Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of 2016. Thus, it goes without saying, that my expectations for this movie were definitely high. And you know what…. they were joyfully met as Captain America: Civil War is now my new favorite MCU Movie (either that or on par with Guardians of the Galaxy. I still can’t decide). Regardless, Civil War is a solid Marvel Entertainment feature.

After their rousing success in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe Russo) return for another go-round with Captain America in directing Civil War. Given their praise Winter Soldier received its clear that the Russo’s need to keep that momentum going with this project and sure enough they do, displaying a big globe-trotting superhero adventure. Sure, the movie ditches the Winter Soldier’s spy aesthetic, but still keeps intact the political nuances of safety and security. Ultimately, the movie asks the fundamental questions of the responsibility of a superhero (owning up to the action in the aftermath of battle). This, of course, is the driving force behind Civil War, fueling the team to choose sides, but it’s a very human condition with (if you extrapolate it of the Marvel universe of superheroes) has real world theme of choices and consequences in battle (i.e. the ROE for example).

Hands down, one of the greatest aspect of Civil War (or rather its biggest selling point) is the big airport battle in the second act. Featuring the sprawling cast of the Marvel heroes, this battle sequence is the best superhero clash ever created (a true fan / comic book dream come to life) with each of the characters getting their moments to shine on-screen. Great action, great humorous quips, awesome fight matchups, and some surprises that will have surely please some comic books fans. Without a doubt, this entire fight scene will have people talking about it (and probably geeking out) for their entire summer. While the second act “superhero” fight is stellar, the film’s third act “showdown” is a powerful one. It may not be as joyous fun as the previous battle, but it’s definitely an emotional one with intense brawl scenes that will have viewers glue to what’s being displayed on-screen.

Interestingly, while some Marvel movies go off on tangents of foreshadowing and lose focus on the present story (the one being told in the movie), Civil War, for the most part, keeps the narrative squarely one the events at hand (with the exception of Spider-Man and Black Panther).

I only have two gripes with the movie (one major, which I will explain further down and one minor). The minor is that the whole shaky camera aspect in the film’s first battle is jarring and slightly takes away from a viewer’s optical take on what they are seeing on-screen. As a side note, the movie has an interesting balance of its comedy and overall gravitas. While Winter Soldier was mostly serious, Civil War has several key moments of comedic levity, which of course is humorous fun in a Marvel movie. Nevertheless, Civil War counterbalance it with some dramatic scenes that are serious and resonate with emotion. And, as usual, the musical score for the film is excellent (thanks to composer Henry Jackson).

As to be expected, Civil War’s two main protagonist (and almost antagonist to each other) return in fine form. Since their first team up in The Avengers, the characters of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have always been at odds over one another and Civil War sees the pair going to war over their ideologies. Actor Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans fully commit to own their respective roles in previous movies and definitely shows in this film, showcasing their action prowess and theatrics to the characters. While, for most the part, their individual stories are essentially completed, Downey and Evans share the spotlight with their costars, but still command the scene when one or the other (or even both) are on-screen. In short, while there’s a lot of Avenger team members in the movie, Civil War is still heavily invested in Iron Man and Captain America.

Of course, with such a momentous division between Stark and Rogers, Civil War sees the return of many Avengers (minus Thor and the Hulk). Sebastian Stan returns as Cap’s old friend (Bucky Barnes / enigmatic assassin (Winter Soldier) as Stan still delivers on adding a layer to this tortured individual who is still searching to find his own humanity. Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson (who really should have her own solo movie by now) return to their post as Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) as well as Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes (War Machine). Avenger newcomer, Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) as a little arc in the movie and, of course, Elizabeth Olsen looks great in the movie. Fresh off the heels of his own solo movie, Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang / Ant-Man. Rudd continues to show his comedic presence in the MCU and steals a couple of scenes in the movie in a big way. And yes, there an iconic shot of him and Hawkeye in the movie (Hooray!). Lastly, Paul Bettany as Vision (who has some comical moments in the feature and even dressing in casual wear at some point appear more human). It should also be noted that the movie sees Scarlet Witch and Vision sharing a somewhat affection towards each other (they have a romantic relationship in the comics if you don’t know), but it’s not a major plot point in Civil War.

With most of Avengers team returning, Civil War incorporates new superheroes (Black Panther and Spider-Man) into the story and acts as their big screen debut into the MCU. Without question, the inclusion of Spider-Man in the movie is great fun and maybe the best of the movie. Sure, moviegoers have seen the different iterations of Peter Parker before (both in actor Toby Maguire and in Andrew Garfield), but newcomer Tom Holland’s version of the web-slinging hero seems to be great fit, with a youthful resurgence in the character. Yes, he could’ve been cut for the movie and wouldn’t change the film’s overall outcome, but his appearance is truly captivating, sharing some great chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. as well as endearing young superhero with a fresh new take (and from what I heard is the closet adaption of the comic book character to date). Oh yeah, he’s also completely hilarious in his scenes and delivers some of the best humorous lines in the movie.

As for the other newcomer, T’Challa / Black Panther is total and complete badass in the movie. Actor Chadwick Boseman, most notable from the movie Draft Day, kicks plenty of ass in Civil War and interesting is far more integrated into the main storyline than Spider-Man. His fighting style and action scenes are cool and his costumer looks incredible, and his emotional arc in the movie is a satisfying one. To me, both these characters are incredible utilized in the movie, acting as a viewer’s “first appearance” of them in the MCU. It left me wanting to see more of them in the movie (especially Holland’s Spider-Man), but I can’t wait to see them in their respective standalone movies (starting with Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and Black Panther the following year).

Civil War main villain in story comes in the form of character Helmut Zemo, played by actor Daniel Bruhl. Bruhl, known for his roles in Inglorious Basterds and Rush, joins the ranks of Marvel’s roster of underwhelming villains that are played by fine and talented actors. With a few exceptions (most notable in Tom Hiddleton’s Loki, the villains of the MCU haven’t been that quite well-rounded, being somewhat flat in the grand scheme of things as Bruhl’s Zemo falls in that category. While his machinations behind his villainy are compelling and sound, the film just doesn’t fully realize him as a titular threat, treating him with the “Oz Effect” (the man behind the curtain) rather than force to be reckoned with. Bruhl’s acting is good, but the character isn’t that evil enough and probably the major problem I have with the movie.

In more supporting roles, familiar faces return to reprise their roles for Civil War. This includes Frank Grillo as the devious Brock Rumlow / Crossbones, Emily VanCamp as Roger’s somewhat low-key love interest Sharon Carter / Agent 13, William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt Ross” (now as the U.S. Secretary of State rather than military general), Kerry Condon as the voice for Stark’s new AI (Friday), and John Slattery as the older version of Tony’s father Howard Stark. In addition, new faces grace the screen (again in minor supporting roles), including Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross (a member of the newly formed Joint Counter Terrorism Center) and Marisa Tomei as the much younger version of Peter Parker’s Aunt May. All these characters have their moments in the spotlight and bring new their theatrical talents to serve Civil War’s story whatever capacity that is need (whether for new faces or for continuity reasons).

As a final note, as almost a traditional and customary notion by these movies, stay after the Civil War ends for not one but two post-credit Easter egg teaser. One that happens mid-credit, while the other is at the very end. Both are good and definitely setup the things to come our two new Marvel heroes. (so that means no talk or teaser of Thanos and the Infinity Stones).

FINAL THOUGHTS


Marvel superheroes clash and collide in the epic blockbuster event Captain America: Civil War. The Russo Brother have delivered on another great movie for Steve Rogers, culminating with some fantastic “real world” ideas, superhero action and fun, and even some emotional (and poignant) storytelling moments at heart. While there are a few problems with the movie, Civil War is still highly enjoyable and great comic book enjoyment. To me, the movie was excellent, a surefire slam-dunk from Marvel Studios, and a awesome way to begin their next wave of superhero movies. Their Phase III saga will surely bring forth new heroes to the big screen (Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, etc.) as well as new cinematic tales for some already establish character, leading to the ultimate battle in Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1 and Part 2 which are to be soon retitled). But for now, Captain America: Civil War stands as a crowning achievement, a blockbuster spectacle that fans and moviegoers have been waiting to see from Marvel Studios for some time and proving that there’s still some exciting momentum left in the superhero genre. Hats off to them and great kick start to the Summer Movies of 2016.

4.6 Out of 5 (Highly Recommended)

 

Released On: May 6th, 2016
Reviewed On: May 6th, 2016

Captain America: Civil War  is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem

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