On open weekend Saturday (May 7th), I took my older sister and my mother to see Marvel's big summer blockbuster for 2016, Captain America: Civil War. The third Captain America film, I'm just going to flat out say it. I LOVED this film. Of course, I'm a huge Marvel dork and have enjoyed every Marvel film I've seen (I have not seen Iron 2+3 or the Thor movies as I wasn't too interested in the characters, mostly Thor. I've never been huge on the Norse stuff.) I will try not to gush too much but I'm probably going to geek out through this generally unscripted review. Unlike my BvS review, I'm going to save spoilers 'til halfway through the “review”. Also, I'm sorry if I do a lot of compare-n-contrast with BvS, but I can't help it. It needs to be understood why one movie works and one doesn't. While I still liked BvS, it has major problems that this movie fixes. Please DC fans, don't send me hate mail for this. On with the movie.
First off, I want to say that Captain America is my favorite Avenger, if we're not counting Spider-Man. I've had general interest before the movies, but the movies have greatly helped to cement Cap as one of my top 5 Marvel heroes ever. Captain America is not the strongest hero in the Marvel world, but his leadership skills, kindness, genuine belief in humanity and freedom make him one of the best leaders in comics, as well as the movies. This is why he leads The Avengers and not Iron Man, like so many people though at the time of the first Avengers movie. And the concepts of freedom is what drives all the Cap movies, which is what makes them, in my opinion, Marvel's first real great trilogy and possible my favorite trilogy of all time, at least for comic book movies.
All Steve Rodgers ever wanted to do was save lives from the atrocities of war and protect what was most important to him, freedom. But freedom is not something tangible, and changes between people. In the first movie, during WW2, the villains and treats were obvious. But when we was revived into the 21st century, he had to face a new kind of threat, the one from home. Both his long time friend Bucky and the government he works for, SHEILD, have been compromised by the fascist group Hydra. Also, Age of Ultron has a fear-driven Tony Stark create a dangerous weapon that almost destroyed the human race.
From the first movie up to this one, Cap, as well as the audience, have slowly been realizing that these systems, and people, we once thought of as correct and infallible are not. This is why he rejects the Sacovia Accords (The “Superhuman Registration Act” replacement for the film, named after the destroyed city from AoU). What if these organizations get breached. Or they made am error in judgment. Or simply someone in power was malicious and wanted to do something horrible for greed. They would have complete control of any superhuman they wanted, forcing them to do or not do what they wanted. That's a scary thought. As well, the gov't is forcing people like Cap, Ant-Man, and Scarlet Witch, who don't want to sign it, to be gov't agents, or else they would jail them. They are still people, and should have to sign anything.
However, they are not just people. They have dangerous power, that are unchecked. Iron Man's side believes that we need some system in place to protect the civilians. From Iron Man 3 to AoU, we've seen Stark's growing need to have protection from alien treats as well as from home. This is why he creates Ultron, and eventually the Vision. Thought Ultron is the one who lifted the city and dropped it, the Avengers could have prevented more deaths if they talked with the gov't and got them more involved. At least, theoretically.
To be perfectly honest, I'm more on Cap's side. Most of the destruction they showcased in the previous movies were caused by the villains, and were pretty much unavoidable. In the The Winter Solider, we saw how most of SHEILD and the US gov't were secretly controlled by Hydra. And Ultron had control of both the internet and possibly military defensive. In both situations it didn't seem like gov't involvement were good answers. In the end, the film (and Cap's trilogy) is about Security vs Freedom. How much should we control to protect the people. I believe in freedom, but it's not an easy choice to make.
One thing among many that Civil War does right against BvS is tackle the destruction the the heroes and villains cause, and the schism of the two main characters. In both movies, they show how the battle looked from the civilian's POV, and it's hard to watch. I did say in both reviews that it's difficult to put the blame on the heroes, as they in the long run prevented more damage then they caused. But it doesn't change the fact that lives were lost and ruined. Iron Man's fears are totally justified, to an extent. Both tackle the subject, but Civil War keeps it's focus.
The first half of BvS is a strict political drama, but kind of messes up it's own message by having it's characters constantly engage in destructive acts with no visible regret or realization of what they did. In the second half, they don't seem to care their fight is demolishing the city. Civil War handles this better. The beginning has a great scene in which the Scarlet Witch, trying to move a bomb from a populated market, accident sends it too close to a neighboring building, blowing up two floors and killing everyone inside. It's clear it was accident and the heroes now they will have to take responsibility for what happened. Every action in the movie has consequences, as it should. The movie also breaks up the action scenes with character moments, which I won't get into now, as they are spoilery. I will say that this is better then BvS, which had all it's action in the last 30 minutes, not spread out.
Seeing as how Jonny Regionson Jr. is slowly learning how easily corruptible our security systems are, thanks to the Big-Man, it's no surprise The J-Man picks Captain America's side. The only judgement you should trust is your own.
I've already talked about Cap and Iron Man. Played by Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. respectively, these guys are amazing and know their characters well. Everything they do is just so natural. Everyone in this film is natural. If I did have to nitpick Iron Man's character a bit, there are some moments that feel forced. For example, early in the film Stark meets the mother of a someone who died in Sacovia in AoU, and she blames him for it. This is sort of what drives Iron Man to help create the Sacovia Accords. Honestly, I don't know why they even need this scene. Sure it reminds the viewer that it people died and propels Stark to action, but I'd imagine he already knew about the destruction and was working on the Accords in between AoU and Civil War. Another one is a bit spoilery, involving his parents. These, perfectly honest, nitpicks. Iron Man's character is fine and his legitimate friendship with Cap is what makes the final conflict much more engaging and heartbreaking.
Most of the characters they have have already been introduced and carry their conflicts from their previous outings. Ant-Man, Hawkeye, and War Machine don't have much in the way of character development, but that's ok. It's not their story. Even then, they have some great moments and lines that keeps them from being forgotten under the conflict of the other characters. The two recurring heroes that have development aside from the main two are Scarlet Witch and Vision. It's clear that Marvel is building up to Scarlet and Vision's romantic relationship like in the comics. I remember reading an article not too long ago that their relationship is just too weird for movie audiences. The MCU, though more grounded then the comics, is a world of Hulks, aliens, Norse gods, taking racoons, size changing men, and wall crawling teenagers. I think the Scarlet Witch dating a robot is the least weird thing in the MCU. Speaking of wall crawlers...
Civil War did introduce two new players to the MCU, the highly anticipated Spider-Man and Black Panther. And they are well worth the hype. The actors they got to play them are amazing. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is someone who both demands respect but also someone who doesn't seem completely sure of what he's doing, letting his emotions get the best of him as revenge against Winter Solider. This all made sense for a Black Panther that's starting out. And he action scenes are great. He moves and stands just like an agile cat, which was different then anything I've seen in the MCU so far.
And then there's Spider-Man. If I were to talk about Spidey in depth, this review would be 30 pages long. Spidey is my favorite character of all time, period! I'm very critical of the character and I wanted to be here. I was angry that Marvel didn't let Sony continue their plans, as I like Andrew Garfield as Spidey and I really wanted to see a Sinister Six movie. But I can't, Tom Holland and Marvel did this character justice. So much is learned about him in his first scene. He's a genius, having developed the web fluid (I will fight anyone who thinks organic web shooters is ok, as if to forget that Peter making them himself is important to his character) and we get a “Great Power, Great Responsibility” speech, this time from Peter to Stark. It's reworded to sound closer to how Stark feels about the Sacovian Accords, because I guess people are tired of the original speech. I'm not. I could watch Spidey's origin fifty times before getting bored, but whatever.
One thing I was so happy to see was Peter and Aunt May's poverty. I know that's a weird thing to say, but I really wanted the MCU to tackle Spider-Man's money problems. Peter being an average guy just trying to make some money to live off of was so relatable to me growing up. Here we see the Parkers living in a tiny apartment as Peter is a dumpster diver looking for parts to make possibly make new computers or stuff for his Spider-Man life. Peter's money troubles were and are more interesting to me then his girlfriend troubles. And seeing how we got the perfect relationship with Garfield and Emma Stone in the Amazing movies, I was hoping Marvel would put more focus on money for their movies. None of the Spider-Man movies so far have even tried to tackle this important aspect of the character. Maybe the first Sam Ramni film, but only in the beginning, and it's more of a inconveniences then a real problem (BTW, the first Ramni movie is my least favorite Spider-Man movie, but that's a discussion for another day). Since it seems Spidey will still be working with Iron Man after Civil War, I can't get my hopes that money will be prominent in Homecoming, but this scene is still more then I've ever gotten from any of these films.
Before this becomes “Jonny loves Spider-Man”, lets bring this back to Civil War. In the end, I'm excited still for Marvel's Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Ant-Man films. Marvel just can't do wrong (well, expect for the whole Dr. Strange controversy, but there's no way in Hell I'm going to talk about that!)
There isn't much to say about the action. Like the other Marvel films, it's fantastic. The director know where to put the focus, even during intense moments were everything seems to fly at you. There's a perfect blend of shakey cam, moving shots, and still shots that keeps you engaged. Marvel really is the current golden standard of action in a see of bland films that thing always moving is a good thing.
While every action scene is great and well thought out, the main attraction is the airport fight. This is contender for greatest action scene of all time. No joke. Both teams consist of about six heroes, all with unique powers and fighting styles, and movie somehow makes it work. No one feels left out. Every hero has their moments of awesome. Seeing all the different powers go up against each other is unlike anything I've seen yet. This is already going on too long, so all I'll say is that the airport fight worth the price of admission tenfold.
Val is learning everything she can from the Officers of Light. She knows how important a system like the OOL is to protect humanity from supernatural threats. She'd probably sign the Sacovian Accords, and side with Iron Man.
If you've gotten this far, I'm assuming you've seen the movie. I won't explain the ending, I'm just going to talk about it. Firstly, the villain. The main villain for Civil War is Baron Zemo, a longtime Captain America villain. However, he is different from the Zemo of the comics. This is ruthless and intelligence, but he seems to hate both the Avengers and Hydra, and works for no one. He also doesn't have his hood-thing, but this not really important.
Zemo's family was killed in the Sacovian fight of AoU and he is trying to break up the Avengers as revenge. The thing that works about his plan is that he doesn't really do anything expect accelerate what was probably going to happen anyway. Since the first Avengers movie Captain America and Iron Man have had very different ideas of what the Avengers should be, calling back to Security vs Freedom. Even without Zemo, Cap wouldn't have sign the Sacovian Accords. This is far more interesting and deep then BvS where Batman and Superman fight for contrived and weak reasons.
Some people might find the reveal that Winter Solider killed Iron Man to be a bit forced. Not so much to me. Iron Man's hatred of the Winter Solider was seen throughout the film. This was just the tipping point. Another point given to Civil War is that the final fight is between the the two heroes and not a lame “final boss”, like BvS. The ending did surprise me. I didn't know if they would be following the comic exactly. Honestly, Steve having to give up the shield to more impactful then just dying. He had worked since the beginning to earn that shield but in the end he has to give it up to protect what is he holds dear. And Stark yelling “You don't deserve it!” to his once good friend almost hurts. And once again, ending it with Steve Rodgers giving up being Captain America is a perfect ending to the trilogy.
It's unclear if Stark and Rodger's relationship will recover from this. The ending hints that Rodgers will lead the Secret Avengers, consisting of Falcon, Winter Solider, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye. It's seems Black Panther might join him but it's unclear. Iron Man seems to lead the Avengers now, probably with the Sacovian Accords in effect. I don't think Spider-Man will be an Avenger, yet. To be real with you, I don't go to the movies too often. I only really go for Disney animated films and Marvel films. Marvel films are such good quality. They really care about their source material and know how to make it enjoyable for everyone. I can not recommend this movie enough. I can highly recommend the entire Captain America trilogy. Great job, Marvel!
Did you like the movie? Are you Team cap or Team Iron Man? Did I ramble too long on the glory of Spider-Man? Leave your thoughts below!