By: Paul Kirkwood
Captain America, Civil War. Where do to start? There will be mild spoilers in this review.
Let’s rewind time to two years ago when this movie was first announced? Back then it was just Captain America 3, a sequel which everyone assumed would deal directly with Steve’s mission to find Bucky, his longtime friend of ages past, that he started at the end of The Winter Soldier.
However, other movies happened in between Captain America 2 and 3, and so we find Steve currently involved with his Avengers responsibilities. The film is directed by the Russo Brothers, returning after the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who have penned all three Captain America films to date. Because of these talents being familiar with the series throughout, the Captain America films are the most consistent of Marvel’s 13 films, story-wise.
The film starts out with the United Nations and General Ross, now Secretary of State, coming down hard on those trying to do justice via “The Sokovia Accords”. Tony Stark, reeling from guilt due to the events of the past few movies, agrees to the government oversight. Steve Rogers doesn’t, as he feels that some of the countries that signed the Accords might have ulterior interests in controlling the actions of the Avengers. Cap doesn’t agree to the Accords, but they are in motion to be signed anyways, and so he will be forced to retire.
Soon after, at the signing of the Accords in Vienna, a massive explosion is set off, killing numerous countries’ representatives. Steve becomes involved when he sees a news report that alleges the mysterious terrorist to be the Winter Soldier, the identity of his friend Bucky Barnes. Steve puts life and limb on the line for Bucky, his last living connection to the world he came from. This naturally brings him into conflict with the UN and Tony Stark. When Bucky is once again compromised, this time by the villain of the film, within the supposedly secure building, Cap goes rogue. He sets out to stop the villain on his own, with help from some new friends, Ant-Man.
After a botched attempt to subdue Cap’s team at the airport, Tony eventually uncovers evidence to prove Bucky’s innocence of the bombing and tracks Cap and Bucky down in the Arctic, where they agree to take down the villain together. Unfortunately, he seems to have been waiting for them.
The scale of this film inflated quite a bit from what you would expect a solo superhero outing to be. Starring all but two of the original Avengers (Thor and the Hulk), and adding a few more heroes on the side to make up for it, this film is essentially Avengers 2.5.
Ever since Spider-Man 3, a certain repeating criticism of some superhero films has been that they are “overstuffed” or “crowded” with characters. They try to cram far too much of the mythos of the character in at once, resulting in a movie that’s hard to watch. And the most recent film at which this criticism was levied was Batman v Superman, a film everyone wanted to like, but… instead garnered a whopping 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. And that, personally, was my biggest worry going into Civil War. They had, even more, characters than Batman v Superman. Did they pull it off?
Yup, they did. This movie was fantastic.
Every character feels like they have a purpose for being there. Here we see a wonderful turn of events for Tony as he reins himself in from his glory days of bucking governmental control. This character arc perfectly mirrors Steve’s, as his days of being a patriotic idealist are over. We see the Scarlet Witch and the Vision struggle with their identities in relation to the world and each other. Black Panther has a definitive arc in the film, even if he doesn’t get the most screentime. The Villain, Helmut Zemo, has definitive reasons for his actions, for once that aren’t borne out of a desire to take over the world, but rather a deeply personal loss. He’s also just a regular guy, with a drive that makes him capable of anything. Spider-Man is…there. Well, Spider-Man doesn’t have the best reason for being there other than Marvel saying “Haha, we got the rights back!” but he’s such a fun addition it’s easy to forgive.
The story in this film is very simple. What starts off as a big, worldwide event is eventually narrowed down to the struggle of Cap and Tony and how their attempts at resolution bring each other into conflict. And this is what makes this film work. Marvel is able to fit so many of its characters into this movie in addition to new ones because of how familiar we are with them. It doesn’t feel crowded when you’ve been seeing these people on the screen for almost 9 years now. We know who they are, their motivations, their history, and so Marvel can do things with these characters they couldn’t if they were relatively new. Lookin’ at you, Warner Bros.
All in all, I rate Captain America Civil War a 9.5/10.