Part of the fun with the movies released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been having front row seats to seeing our favorite comic book heroes team up, pitching quippy, barbed insults at one another. When they are not taking on eccentric villains like Loki, the genocidal robot Ultron, or running their own world-wide missions, they seem to enjoy taking each other down a notch in their spare time. They are definitely a family. Even during the first Avengers film, you get the sense that, like most families, they didn’t always like one another. All that underground tension has to reach a head. Despite this being the third entry into our favorite all-American hero, Captain America: Civil War is essentially a third Avengers movie (or Avengers 2.5) – it’s also the best Marvel movie yet.
Directed by the Russo Brothers – who turned the last Captain America outing, Winter Soldier, into a surprisingly interesting espionage political thriller – the film is another timely parable during an interesting period in the real world. With our current election season underway, the U.S. electorate is as scarily divided as ever. In the Marvel Universe, the heroes face a similar issue in their form of a superhero registration act, titled the Sokovia Accords. After a casualty-heavy destructive mission involving the new team of Avengers in Lagos, Nigeria, at the beginning of the film (coming on top of Age of Ultron‘s floating heap of collateral damage in the fictional town of Sokovia), the world’s governments seek to rein in the rogue crimefighters and put them under the watch of the U.N. This creates a moral and political rift between two superhero leaders: Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Robert Downey, Jr’s Tony Stark (Iron Man). This might sound familiar but Civil War writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely update the hand-me-down with airtight logic and freshness with the heroes – also bringing a sense of fun and joy among all of the heavy drama that was obviously missing from the other superhero face-off, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The divide comes when Stark, riddled with guilt over past mistakes, agrees to the U.N.’s leash-tightening plans, while Rogers, given his recent experience with the government and his morals, believes the Avengers should remain independent. With the moral lines drawn, the rest of the Avengers are left to choose where they stand: Paul Bettany’s Vision and Don Cheadle’s War Machine line up with Stark; Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch side with Rogers. Rogers’ long-time war hero and best friend, Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier (now good guy Bucky Barnes), resurfaces, facing unfair judgment before his friend from Brooklyn rescues and recruits him. He also pulls in Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man (who makes a hilarious outing) to his cause. Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow is stuck between her two comrades but does not get lost in the shuffle. To avoid things from getting stale, two long-awaited newcomers make their debut – Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. I can’t say enough about these performances, adding welcome doses of gravitas and light to the super-sibling battle. Marvel definitely did justice to each character, giving each a shining moment.
Chris Evans, in his 4th starring role as the character and his fifth overall, delivers another great performance as the heroic man out of time, Captain America. He’s an honorable man, one you would definitely want in the foxhole with you. His honor and steadfast belief in his morals builds his characterization with his loyalty and dedication to his friends and humanity. Robert Downey Jr has become the biggest star of the MCU and the addition of him, not only as an “antagonist” but one fighting his own mistakes, propels Civil War into the stratosphere in popularity. Stark’s motivation comes from his mistakes, most recently with the fallout from Age of Ultron, helps logically define the stance on superhuman registration for the audience. Downey definitely delivers in the emotion his character feels throughout the film, especially towards the end.
Plotwise, there is a lot of ground to cover in Civil War, just like the comic book story it’s loosely based one. The Russo Brothers juggle all of the motivations and shifting alliances with impressive skill. While the previous two Avengers films were amazing in their own ways, there was always that tendency to feel a bit overwhelmed by the plethora of characters. There were too many balls up in the air, even for Joss Whedon to all keep juggling. Civil War generously gives everyone in the cast their own moment or just enough to do, whether it’s showcasing their skills during the large comic book page collision and battle royal at the Leipzig Airport or having small character developmental conversations with the veterans of the mega-franchise. Even rookies such as Boseman’s soberly but vengeful Black Panther and Holland’s promising Spider-Man get their just do, leaving fans craving for their first solo movie outings. Marvel still has a villain problem outside of Loki as shown with the so-so villain, Daniel Bruhl’s Helmut Zemo but he does serve his purpose. While you would like to think that no matter how heated things get, all will be forgiven in the end. Whether or not that’s the case is not something I’m going to spoil for you here. You will just have to see the movie.
Honestly, I can’t say enough about this movie. It changed up their formula and showed that even a superhero film can pull at the hearts of fans and it’s not always against good versus evil. I am unapologetically Team Cap and still am after this film. The morality and honor Steve displays just makes you want to join his side. However, going towards the end, you understand each side and can sway even the most loyal of followers on either side of the argument. The repercussions of this movie will have significance in the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; to what extent, we won’t know yet. I would recommend seeing this movie. Marvel has hit the ground running with Phase Three of their universe. I would rate this at least a 9.5 out of 10. Please leave any questions or comments and what you thought of the film once you see it, no matter if you are Team Cap or Team Iron Man!