Star Rating: 5 out of 5
For the first time in my life, I found myself apathetic about a Marvel movie. When it was announced almost two years ago, I was ecstatic. What happened during that time? Perhaps it was Age of Ultron, or maybe my tastes in comic books had changed which lead to a change in my taste of comic book based movies. Or maybe the market has become so saturated with comic book movies that I just felt indifferent toward them. Either way, if I didn’t have a responsibility to bring you (the reader) a review of this movie, I might not have seen it until the crowds had subsided. With all of that being said, Captain America: Civil War was an amazing movie, and I now consider it to be one of the best.
The movie picks up shortly after Age of Ultron and Winter Soldier. Captain America now leads a slightly different team of Avengers – the notable difference being Wanda Maximoff and a lack of Hulk or Thor. During a mission in Africa, while trying to capture Brock Rumlow, Wanda causes a major accident that kills dozens of people. Afterward, the United Nations decide that the Avengers can no longer operate without some kind of accountability. This accountability takes the form of the Sokovia Accords, which is a document that would put a task force in charge of the Avengers that would decide what world events the Avengers can and can not be involved in. Tony Stark comes out in full support of the Accords, while Steve Rogers comes out against them because he believes in the individual right to choose.
All of these events happen while Steve is still looking for Bucky after the events in Winter Soldier, with the help of Sam Wilson. After it seems like the Winter Soldier has caused another international incident, the focus of the movie changes from the Sokovia Accords to the CIA trying to capture Bucky and Steve and Sam trying to help Bucky escape because they know he is mostly innocent. Meanwhile, the suspicious Helmut Zemo is off in the background with his own hidden agenda.
First off, Civil War is a long movie. There are moments when it feels long, but that is only because of how many plot threads Anthony and Joe Russo have included in their movie. Given enough time and money, they could have easily split this movie into two installments: one focusing on the Sokovia Accords and the division of the Avengers, and one focusing on the continuing Winter Soldier story line. But they didn’t, and it was executed with near flawlessness. It was hard to go into this movie and not compare it to Batman V. Superman since both movies feature heroes who are turned against each other by outside means. Only one movie does it well, while the other fails.
Along the way both Steve and Tony add a few new team players to their sides to aid in their fight against each other. Steve picks up Ant-man after the suggestion of Sam, and Tony picks up fan favorite, Spider-man. After years and years of waiting, fans were able to finally see Spider-man fight along side Iron Man and Captain America and the rest of the Avengers. The introduction of Spider-man in the movie was a big deal. Spider-man played a huge role in the original Civil War comic and doing a movie without him seemed unjust. While his role in this story did not have the same impact as it did in the comic book, it was still a fun introduction to the character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I loved Spider-man, but I still don’t know how I feel about Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker. The scene felt forced, and I’m not sure if his Peter Parker will have all of the nerdy, loner qualities Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was missing. I understand the necessity to explain how Spider-man arrived at the airport with Tony’s team, but I wonder if the movie would have really suffered without it. In comparison, Ant-man’s introduction to the other characters felt natural and made sense after his fight with Falcon in his own movie.
I worried going into this movie that the trailer had revealed too much about the confrontation between all of the heroes. With the big fight being the focus of the original Civil War comic, how could there be a climax greater than this fight? I won’t spoil anything, but you can rest easy knowing the trailers spoiled nothing. The big showdown between all of the heroes comes a little over halfway in the movie and is no where near as exciting as the real final showdown. In fact, by the time the big fight between heroes happens, I started to wonder why this movie was called Civil War. Sure, there were plenty of fights and disagreements between the main characters, but war is the last thing I would have called it. Until the end.
During the entire movie, there were scenes included of Helmut Zemo doing some mysteriously evil things. Leaving one to wonder, “What is this guy up to?” and just when you forget about him, they reintroduce him just to remind you he is operating behind the scenes. At the very end of the movie, when the Russo’s tie up all of the plot lines that you realize what Zemo had been up to the entire movie, and it made my jaw drop. For the first time since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe do I feel like the Avengers have a serious villain that could actually amount to something. I would argue that without the inclusion of Zemo, Civil War would have felt like another formulaic Marvel movie.
With Civil War the Russos did two things I did not think were possible. First they set up the future movies without throwing it in your face (I’m looking at you Age of Ultron) and second they raised the stakes. The Winter Soldier was a great spy thriller for Captain America. Civil War took that idea and did it better than I could ever have imagined. In fact, up until the revelation at the end, I only half enjoyed the movie. There were parts where it seemed disconnected and too messy. If they hadn’t tied it up nicely in the end, it would have failed as much as Batman V. Superman.
I am looking forward to seeing more of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-man. I can only hope that they utilize them as much as possible in the future Avengers movies since they both bring new perspectives to the team. One of them a kid from Queens and the other the sovereign leader of an African country.
Civil War might just be the best Marvel movie we have for now. For those of you who were afraid this was Avengers 2.5, it’s not. In fact, it almost makes up for the disappointment that was Age of Ultron. I would highly recommend this movie whether you’re a Marvel fan or not.