- Title: Captain America: Civil War
- IMDb: link
The most ambitious Marvel Studios’ movie to date, Captain America: Civil War attempts to merge aspects of Marvel’s two best movies (The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier) into a cohesive whole while telling a very streamlined version of the comic event of the same name. You know what? It’s pretty damn good. It may not be the best of the Marvel movies, but it’s certainly more successful than Avengers: Age of Ultron and halts the backslide we’ve been witnessing in the quality of the Marvel films since Winter Soldier.
Beginning with tragedy in Africa, the Avengers are called to task by the governments of the world who believe a group of powerful super-heroes must be made to answer to someone other than themselves. While Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) are in favor of putting the group under the oversight of the United Nations, Captain America (Chris Evans) opposes any such move. As the Avengers choose sides things take an even more dramatic turn with the return of the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) only further dividing the group with his latest actions.
Marvel has done a good job not giving away too much of the plot in the trailers so I’ll attempt to skirt the edges as best I can of a very plot-heavy film. Captain America: Civil War is over-stuffed with characters and story elements to the point that it’s something of a miracle how well the movie turns out. We may not get Thor or the Hulk this time around, or any TV characters (so much for a shared universe), but nearly everyone else manages to make an appearance here including the introduction of both the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Both heroes are impressive additions to Marvel’s ever-expanding Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man, and the return of Paul Rudd‘s Ant-Man, give the movie a much-needed injection of humor just in time for the two teams’ big throwdown.
For the film’s villain, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely turn to a classic Captain America foe in Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl). While the crux of the story has to deal with the philosophical differences between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, Zemo is always in the background with his own agenda which won’t be revealed until late in the film. Zemo is the classic super-genius villain whose plan is so smart and complex it relies on a house of cards, any number of which could halt his plans well before the end of the movie.
Much like in The Dark Knight Returns, the overly-complex plot of this villain to make the heroes jump through hoops all to arrange a meeting at a very specific location at a very specific time strains the script the more you examine it. And although it doesn’t have a “my mom’s named Martha, too!” moment, the plot relies on an extremely convenient piece of information (which Zemo has no reason to keep to himself for so long other than the final act needs a big reveal for added conflict).
Zemo isn’t the only troubling aspect of the movie. Throwing nearly every Avenger into the movie, the absence of Thor and Hulk can’t be ignored. It’s obvious why the two aren’t involved in an internal war between the heroes as their power sets would overwhelm any battle scene. That said, the decision to include both Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) causes nearly the exact same problem as both are forced to be largely reactive during the movie’s big Avenger-on-Avenger action scene. Given their god-like abilities, too much of their involvement could make the entire sequence moot forcing you to forget that either of them are actually part of the extended sequence at times as they are relegated more to cameoes. And it makes you wonder what the pair were doing for the rest of the movie’s biggest action set piece when they aren’t on camera. What’s unfortunate is the movie has a built-in reason to keep the pair from the battle which would helped both characters (as their interactions in those calmer moments are their best in the movie) and kept them away from a fight sequence that doesn’t need their involvement to succeed.
Sure, there are smaller nitpicks I could make, such as the return of the miscast Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter (the biggest disappointment of Winter Soldier, at least she’s adequate this time around) or Black Widow‘s (Scarlett Johansson) questionable choice of sides, but these are small points that don’t detract from the overall story. Filled with action, drama, and some legitimately funny sequences for such a serious movie, Captain America: Civil War is one hell of an entertaining movie.
The Russo brothers may not be quite as adept at merging all the various characters as Joss Whedon was in The Avengers, but even he couldn’t repeat that success in the sequel. That said, even with the couple of complaints I’ve mentioned above Captain America: Civil War works in a way Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was never able to achieve. Some of the quick-cut fight sequences are a little choppy in 3D, and Tony Stark is in dour mode for the entire movie (which means no wise-cracking this time around), but the movie deals seriously with the issues it raises while finding time to naturally introduce major new players to the Cinematic Universe and provide plausible reasoning that works for Avengers to square off against their own.