Captain America: Civil War Movie Review
The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe finds Captain America (Evans) and Iron Man (Downey Jr.) on different sides of a political notion to control the Avengers under a UN subcommittee. Although this is the line in the sand that separates the Avengers, the real core of the story is the innocence or guilt of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), otherwise known as the Winter Soldier. There’s evidence to suggest he was responsible for a bombing, but Captain America wants to try to clear his name while Iron Man wants justice. Lurking in the background is Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), a man determined to get his revenge on the Avengers by pitting them against each other.
Everyone has their ideas about what makes a superhero movie great, but I believe it’s all about heart. Superheroes are complex characters, but they’re also completely fictitious and if you don’t add a bit of humanity to them, the audience will quickly lose interest. That’s what makes CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR so brilliant; they took characters we already loved, justified their positions and beliefs and made the audience question what they thought to be true. This wasn’t just a movie about Captain America and Iron Man pounding on each other, this was about two men feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders and making the best decisions they know how. I don’t know if this would have been possible without the ten or so movies that came before it in the Marvel universe, but even without all the backstory, the Russo brothers managed to add even more depth to the characters we love and somehow brought it all together in 2.5 hours.
I think everyone knows that Captain America and Iron Man can carry their own film by now, but the brightest stars of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR were the two new faces. Let’s start with Tom Holland as Spider-Man. In about twenty minutes of screen time, he managed to capture the essence of Spider-Man better than five full movies did. If anyone had any concerns about his casting, rest assured that Spidey is in great hands for the foreseeable future. Somehow, in a “giant” battle, Spider-Man stood out amongst all the superheroes. The other newcomer to the game was Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Panther was almost as impressive as Spider-Man and Boseman brought an intensity to the character that should serve him well in his standalone film.
As great as the story is and as great as the newcomers are, this is a superhero film and superhero films have to deliver on the action front. I was very impressed with all of the Avenger on Avenger action and the long airport battle delivered in spades. Again, what made it so impressive is that we know all of these characters and we understand the challenges they’ve faced up to that point. There’s a sadness to the battle as we see former friends fight each other. The Russo brothers knew that and lightened the mood at times with some well-placed humor, thanks in large part to Spider-Man. But the big battle aside, there were several moments that made me laugh out loud. Humor in a movie like this is delicate, but the Russo brothers nailed every joke.
I never like to speak in hyperbole about a film right after I see it, but I will say CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR sets a new standard for superhero films, especially films that have more than one superhero in them. There were nearly a dozen superheroes in this film and somehow, it didn’t feel like anyone was cheated out of screen time. Everyone made their mark on the film and we never lingered too long on one character or cut away too soon. People will talk about how great the action was or how great it was to see all of the characters in action, but the most impressive aspect of the film might be the directing job that the Russo brothers did. Putting all of this together and playing with characters we’ve seen several times before feels like a daunting task, but they exceeded expectations. I don’t know what the rest of 2016 holds for us in terms of quality films, but this is an event that shouldn’t be missed.