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.
Not only does the film have to introduce a brand-new villain (something The Avengers didn’t have to spend time on) and three new supporting characters (with vastly different origins than their comic counterparts), and weave in ongoing events from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while providing separate in-depth character moments for every single Avenger, Age of Ultron also has to lay the groundwork for the next two Avengers films, Captain America: Civil War, and Thor: Ragnarok. While also throwing in supporting characters from pretty much every Marvel film so far it’s something of a marvel, if you’ll forgive the pun, that Avengers: Age of Ultron doesn’t buckle under its own considerable weight.
Seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the theaters my initial reaction was that the Captain America: The First Avenger sequel was an improvement over the first film and one of Marvel Studio’s best efforts. I’m happy to say the movie holds up on Blu-ray. I actually enjoyed it a little more the second time around.
The wide sweeping conspiracy of Hyrda begins sweeping changes in the overall Marvel Universe, immediately effecting Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (leading to the TV show’s strongest episodes), but more than that The Winter Soldier is a good Captain America story full of strong performances (making great use of Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow) along with plenty of intrigue and action. Sure the movie wastes Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and the final battle feels a bit too much like a video game with infiltrating and swapping out the chips in hovercrafts of death, but those don’t detract from a strong storyline filled with plenty of comic book goodness. For more on the movie read my original review.