Hero Versus Hero: ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Reviewed

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Captain America Civil War Poster (Marvel)Title: Captain America: Civil War

Production: Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, and Studio Babelsberg

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Mark Millar, Joe Simon, and Jack Kirby

Released: 2016

Rated: PG-13

Genre: Superhero action and adventure

Runtime: 146 Minutes

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johanson, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Paul Bettany, Tom Holland and Daniel Brühl.

Marvel true believers (and fans of superhero films in general) are in for an interesting May with the release of two movies from the House of Ideas. Later this month X-Men: Apocalypse arrives and this week we have Captain America: Civil War hitting theaters. If the quality of the later movie is any indication of what to expect from the former, viewers should be crying “Excellsior!” this Spring as Marvel tallies hundreds of millions in box office receipts.

Captain America: Civil War Cap and Iron Man (Marvel)I’ll preface this review by saying Captain America has always been my favorite Marvel hero and I find Captain America: The Winter Soldier to be the best film in the Marvel cinematic universe to date. That said, Anthony and Joe Russo had their work cut out for them to top the previous Cap adventure and, although they give it a keen try, fall a bit short in the end. Captain America: Civil War is still a vastly entertaining film in it’s own right though.

As with all film reviews here at TGG, I’ll keep this as spoiler free as possible…

The main impetus of the action in Civil War is the initiation of the Sokovia Accords and whether superheroes should be placed under the oversight and guidance of the United Nations or remain as essentially vigilantes operating outside any form of governance. Following the wholesale death and destruction of previous events in the MCU the Captain America: Civil War Black Panther (Marvel)governments of the world have joined to demand the Avengers be reined in. While the concept of these accords lacks some of the political heat and timeliness of the original source comic book material (the Super Human Registration Act) the plot point does set up the coming conflict quite well.

On one hand you have Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and his belief the Accords will be a great good in preventing further devastating collateral damage while deterring a loose cannon mentality to future Avengers missions. The other side of the equation involves Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his reluctance to sign a document which could turn the Avengers into a blunt weapon wielded at the political whims of the powers that be.

Muddying the waters is the return of The Winter Soldier, Cap’s WWII childhood friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who who also happens to be a cryogentically frozen brainwashed Soviet assassin. Can Cap offer redemption for his friend or must The Winter Soldier pay the price for his laundry list of past dirty deeds? Barnes is the trigger which finalizes the passage of the accords and pits hero against hero and friend versus friend.

It’s easy to see why each side of the divide firmly believes they’re firmly in the right.

Captain America: Civil War Spider-Man (Marvel)It may sound as if Captain America: Civil War is an awfully “thinky” movie but there’s plenty of action interspaced throughout that’s sure to please the most jaded superhero fan. In fact the airport slugfest alone will have movie goers talking for a long time afterwards. Add to this the inclusion of prince T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), as well as the latest incarnation of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and we have the biggest slate of superheroes yet to appear in one movie. Thankfully the Russos do a much better job of juggling the newcomers, as well as returning heroes, than Joss Whedon did with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

No knock on the last Avengers movie but there was far too much Ultron and not enough Avengers. In essence Civil War plays out as the Avengers 2.5 and we’re treated to a good deal of interplay between some of our favorite MCU characters such as Natasha Romanoff /The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Lieutenant James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and The Vision (Paul Bettany).

Although it’s a hell of a good movie Captain America: Civil War isn’t perfect as there are a few minor missteps unfortunately. While it’s very cool Spider-Man makes his first appearance in the official MCU, his screen time feels as if it’s from a completely different film; Spidey is so light and breezy the tone seems out of place in the midst of the darker and more mature proceedings. This isn’t a big deal since it certainly gets you pumped to see everyone’s favorite wall crawler when he arrives in his very own film but it’s a tad strange nonetheless.

Captain America: Civil War Team Cap (Marvel)A bigger issue is the villain this time around. Lately most Marvel baddies have been a bit flat (don’t get me started on The Mandarin and Iron Man 3) and this problem again raises its ugly head in Civil War. The mysterious Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) – not a baron nor son of a Nazi scientist here – appears and it turns out he may be manipulating the unknowing heroes. When we learn what he’s really been up to everything lines up and falls into place a bit too neatly. Truthfully it would take a lot of coincidence, blind luck, and finances beyond Zemo’s means to pull off what he does and his machinations are shot full of plot holes.

Lastly, this isn’t a movie for those uninitiated in all things MCU. Tons of events from past films are referenced and play vital roles in the goings on. Obviously this won’t be a problem for 99% of the audience but I thought it worth mentioning if this would be your first Marvel experience as you’ll probably end up completely lost.

Small gripes aside I did enjoy Captain America: Civil War quite a lot. The Cap series always tackles issues a bit weightier than the standard superhero genre while providing a slew of action and special effects. Civil War is another great entry into the Marvel movie canon and makes for an excellent capstone on what we can consider the first Captain America trilogy.

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