Captain America Civil War Review: The Buck Stops Here!
I am going to open up this review by stating that I have a love/hate relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I find some of these films wonderfully entertaining while others are just so “meh.” I remember seeing the original Iron Man back in 2008 and being blown away by it. That film has such rich storytelling, great performances, and great action sequences.
After Iron Man came the rest of Marvel Phase 1 films that included the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. I remember being disappointed with almost all of these films with the exception of The Avengers, which I love and still believe to be one of the best Marvel films to date. Marvel’s Phase 2 had more hits than misses with Thor 2 and Age of Ultron being the weakest links of the chain.
Now, Phase 3 has officially begun and Captain America: Civil War takes place shortly after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The film opens up with the battle sequence in Lagos and without giving anything away results in a building explosion involving Scarlet Witch. This opening scene instantly pulls audiences into the story and it sets up the film’s main plot rather nicely. My only real complaint about this scene is that it looks like it was shot in some sort of 240hz frame rate, which made it rather difficult for me to enjoy the non-stop action in this scene.
While most of the world sees the Avengers as heroes, there are others who view them as vigilantes who need to be held accountable for their actions. After the incident in Lagos, the United States along with 117 other countries have decided that the Avengers must sign the Sokovia Accords if they want to continue protecting their country and the world.
Just the idea of the Sokovia Accords creates a rift between the members of the Avengers. While Tony Stark agrees that the Government should have some control over their actions; Steve Rogers strongly disagrees. The Avengers are now forced to pick a side and choose whether they want to work with the government or be viewed as vigilantes that will be persecuted if they act without permission.
Add in a subplot revolving around Bucky being brainwashed and framed as a terrorist by Hydra and you have a basic understanding of everything that is about to go down in this third Captain America installment.
Outside of that other comic book universe that everyone has been talking/complaining about, Captain America: Civil War was one of the most anticipated releases of 2016. This is the Iron Man vs. Captain America film and one that Marvel fans have been eagerly waiting for. I am happy to report that Civil War is well worth the wait and serves as one of the best films in the MCU so far even with its fair share of flaws. I will begin with flaws before I dive into the good stuff.
The first major flaw of Civil War is the runtime. At 146 minutes, Captain America: Civil War is about 20-30 minutes too long. As I previously stated, the film draws the audience in right away but as the film keeps chugging along a lot of characters are introduced and a lot of secondary plotlines. Some of these plotlines drag a bit and given the fact that you kind of already know where the film is headed, it becomes a bit dull waiting for it to happen.
Alongside the bloated runtime are the various plot developments and character introductions. There are so many plotlines and so many characters that when push comes to shove, this doesn’t even feel like a Captain America film but rather a way to setup a bunch of other films that Marvel has coming down the pike. I think it’s comical that so many people have complained that Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Batman V Superman tried to setup too much yet this film does the exact same thing.
The setup in Civil War might be a bit better than those other two films but essentially it still tries to bite off more than it can chew. Civil War sets the audience up for a Black Panther film, another Spider-Man film, and the next Avengers film. There is seriously so much build up to other films in this universe that at times you want this film to be over so you focus on one of the other plotlines being hinted upon.
It also needs to be said that there are a lot of characters that are a part of this film and not all of them are given a proper introduction or nearly enough screen time. I won’t go into great detail but let’s just say that Ant-Man and Hawkeye in particular are just thrown into the mix. These two characters lacked introduction and felt as though Renner and Rudd were just told to show up on set and film their scenes. Ant-Man in particular really felt out of place even though he is without a doubt the scene-stealer whenever he appears.
I might be alone on this one but my biggest pet peeve about this film is Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers’ obsession with protecting Bucky Barnes. I understand that the previous two Captain America films showcased the relationship between Bucky and Steve but I never found it to be all that compelling or believable. It’s even more of a stretch this time around because Steve is turning his back on so many people that he loves and with whom he shares a strong friendship. I get that this storyline is part of the comics but I just don’t feel like the films have done that storyline justice. I really struggle with the concept of turning your back on several of your friends for one person. I also will go on record and say that I really dislike Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Solider.
My last and final major complaint is the film’s tone, which like a lot of Marvel films is pretty inconsistent. I think the tone of Civil War is all over the place. There are moments were the film gets really dark and serious yet at other times it feels a bit too light-hearted for its own good. There is always this weird combination of dark tones and comedic tones in the Marvel films that kind of take me out of the film. I am not saying that these films shouldn’t have a blend of light and dark moments but there aren’t handled as seamlessly as I would expect at this stage in the game.
Now, that I got my complaints out of the way let’s dive into all the good stuff.
Paul Bettany’s Vision and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch are quickly becoming my favorite Avengers. I love that we get more development of their characters in this film. I really hope that at some point we get a Vision/ Scarlet Witch movie because I would really like to dive into their backstories and get to know these characters better. What is so unique about these two characters is that they are really unlike any of the other Avengers. I love how smart and sophisticated Vision is and how I uneasy Scarlet Witch is with her powers and how she doubts them yet they are so very powerful at the same time.
The introduction of Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther is handled flawlessly. I think Boseman has proven to be such a talented actor in his previous roles and only continues to prove how talented he is in Civil War. Boseman’s character is really well-rounded and is oddly enough given a lot of backstory considering that this is not a Black Panther film. Boseman plays this character so well because he is so well-rounded. At first, we see T’Challa as this “hot head” seeking revenge but as the film progresses, he becomes more even tempered and is rather rational. I think Boseman’s standalone Black Panther film is going to be one of the strongest films in the 3rd Phase of the MCU.
Another character introduction that I thought was handled fairly well was Tom Holland as Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man. While I HATED that they turned Aunt Mae into a MILF; I will say that Holland seems like a great fit for Peter/Spidey. He looks like a younger Andrew Garfield and his innocence to the world of crime fighting felt just right. I will say that I thought Holland did try too hard to be funny which did result in him becoming a bit annoying but atlas I would be lying if I didn’t smile like a little kid when Spider-Man showed up during the beyond awesome Airport sequence.
Speaking of the Airport sequence, this scene is without a doubt one of the most entertaining sequences from a comic book film in quite sometime. It’s so good that I truly believe it’s on par with the final battle scene in the Avengers. While I do think the scene should have been a bit more serious in tone, the sheer delight of seeing all the characters face off was enough to make any comic book fan scream uncontrollably for hours afterwards.
Other characters such as Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Daniel Bruhl as Zemo serve as some other highlights. I think both these actors bring something fresh and new to the MCU and I think that’s why they stand out so much. This universe is quickly becoming about personality and who steals the screen from others. We have seen so much of Iron Man and Captain America at this point that its almost like they are overshadowed by these other more interesting characters. I will say though that the reveal that leads into the faceoff between Iron Man and Captain America is very Batman-esque and was the strongest Robert Downey Jr has been as this character since the original Iron Man in 2008.
All in all, I think Captain America: Civil War is a great entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, it is a bit long and not everything is perfect but for a film that tackles so much in one film it does a fairly good job at achieving its goal. There are plenty of fan moments to be had and a lot of the characters new and old get a nice amount of screen-time. I think when releasing so many comic book films each year there a lot of hype and expectation to live up to and I think for what its worth Captain America: Civil War really gets the job done.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Captain America: Civil War is an 8 out of 10.