We have now arrived at Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When we left off, The Avengers were creating killer robots and dropping cities out of the sky, and Scott Lang was becoming the Ant-Man and kicking Falcon’s ass. We’re thrown back into the thick of it with Captain America: Civil War, a strong and extensive introduction to the next slew of events in the MCU.
[WARNING: Spoilers Ahead. Move Forward at your own risk. You’ve been warned]
If we’re going in chronological order, this film picks up after the events of Ant-Man, but technically speaking, it picks up after Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. We find the new team of Avengers in a mission in Lagos, Nigeria. The Mission goes south, and countless lives are lost due to Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) making a mistake. This causes the public to question whether the heroes are doing more harm than good overall, thus spawning the Sokovia Accords. The Accords, which are present to them by Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt) – who seems to have received a little promotion from a U.S. General to Secretary of State since The Incredible Hulk – are basically a law stating that the Avengers (and any other Super-powered individuals) report and operate only under government discretion.
While some of the heroes agree with the idea of being put in check (Iron Man being on this side), others question whether they’ll just become pawns of the government and aren’t exactly sold on the idea (Captain America being on this side). It’s then announced that leaders from Nations around the world – including T’Chaka, Wakanda’s king and Black Panther’s father – are meeting up to discuss the Accords. Tragedy strikes, and the meeting is bombed, resulting in the death of T’Chaka and others being injured. Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, is framed for this event, causing Steve and his allies to protect him, becoming criminals and leading to the Accords just being pushed for even more. The new status quo fractures the avengers in half and causes everyone to pick a side: Team Iron Man, or Team Cap.
This movie serves as three films in one: Captain America 3, Avengers 2.5, and Iron Man 4. You have to remember that while it’s called Civil War, that aspect of the movie is only a by-product of Cap’s relationship with Bucky, which is the main thing driving this story. This film is a story for all of the Avengers, but Iron Man and Captain America are at the forefront and the leaders of each team due to their individual ideologies. Tony Stark/Iron Man agrees that the heroes need to be reigned in and put in check. They’re hurting people and things are getting out of control. Steve Rogers, on the other hand, argues that governments have agendas, and what if they change? “What if they send us to places we don’t want to go? What if they don’t let us go to places we need to go?” He’s Captain America. Freedom is kind of his thing. But unlike the comic, you get where each of them is coming from and it makes you think “Damn, who would I side with in this situation?” That’s what a movie like this should do. It shouldn’t be black and white, it should make you think and question every theme that’s thrown in front of you. The Russo Bros. excel at creating cinema like this. The event that ultimately made Iron man come to his decision was a visit by the mother of a young graduate who happened to be in Sokovia and lost his life doing some volunteer work during the events of Age of Ultron. Seeing as how it was his fault that Ultron ever came to be, you can understand how he feels responsible for all this and thinks their best course of action is to be put in check. An event almost identical to this happens to Stark in the Civil War graphic novel, which also leads him in the same direction. Steve Rogers, being the human embodiment of the American Dream, disagrees. He thinks they’re doing more good than harm and should be left to do things the way they have been. He also had an event that probably made him solidify his stance on the Sokovia Accords. During Peggy Carter’s funeral (oh yeah, she dies), her niece Sharon Carter repeated a statement that Peggy once said to her about what you should do in a situation where the odds are against you. “Compromise where you can, but where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right, even if the whole world is telling you to move, it’s your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say ‘no, you move.'” Obviously this stuck with Cap, partially because it’s something that Peggy said (FUN FACT: in the comics, Captain America actually said this to Spider-Man in his Civil War arc . READ: Amazing Spider-Man Vol.1 #537), and also because he feels that he’s right in this situation, and he refuses to change his view on it all. This is also understandable and quite relatable because surely almost everyone has been in a situation where they feel so strongly about something, that they refuse to budge or change their standpoint on it.
Alright lets start to break it down. No time is wasted in this film. The pacing is spot on. Just about every scene feels so organic and necessary in pushing the story forward. This is the second film the Russo Brothers have directed for Marvel, and they’re becoming a household name over there for the work they do. They’re able to create films with so many layers and storylines that you’re emotionally invested in while also maintaining a cohesive narrative. The dialogue is also spectacular. co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely created a script that dealt with heavy and complex topics without losing the jaunty, lighthearted Marvel touch. This film not only excels in being a Superhero movie, but also excels in being an action drama, creating events that aren’t so “cartoon-ish” and also portraying characters that are interesting, three dimensional, and experience growth throughout the length of the movie. Marvel has shown time and time again that they can manage to blend the tense and seriousness of it all and the right amount of humor and fun almost perfectly. Civil War and Batman V Superman kind of tackle similar beats, but Marvel just pulls this off way better, mostly because their characters aren’t so bland and transparent, which gives fans a reason to have some attachment to their feelings and what they’re fighting for.
Speaking of the characters, let’s talk about the heroes in this film. First of all, we have to talk about Spider-Man. Tom Holland is easily the best on-screen Spider-Man we’ve ever received. He built upon everything that made the two previous live action iterations of the character great and made them his own. He didn’t get too much screen time, but the short amount that he did get was enough to solidify his place in the MCU. The best thing about him in this film is that he maintained his innocence and youthfulness – things that were missing from both previous versions of him. It’s clear that Spider-Man done the Marvel way is the right way, and any fears that anyone had about him can be put to rest after this. We’re looking forward to seeing his standalone film.
Black Panther was incredible. Chadwick Boseman sold us on the regality of the character. He was one of the most serious characters, and his maturity was a testament to how far T’Challa came from the start of the film. He started out as a revenge seeking force of nature that wanted the head of his father’s killer, but eventually learned the truth and became a diplomatic leader as his father wished. Helping Captain America and Bucky after being involved in a major feud with them showcased his growth.
We got a better feel of Scarlett Witch and Vision’s personalities in this film. It seems as though their relationship had improved, and it seemed as though we were going to see the relationship that they shared in the comics. That is, until Wanda/ Scarlett Witch literally brought Vision to his knees and sent him stories through the ground. Tough love, i guess. Black Widow had more of a personality than she usually does, and played both sides as she does so well. Falcon didn’t really do too much for the story, he’s just served as a loyal companion to Cap since Winter Soldier. Hawkeye was just…there. Clint went into retirement after the events of Age of Ultron, then came back for no reason honestly, he could’ve just stayed retired and kept to himself, but maybe he felt responsible for Scarlett Witch since he was the one who gave her the pep talk that turned her into a full fledged Avenger in AOU. Who knows honestly? They didn’t make it too clear. We can’t really say that every character was as fleshed out as they could’ve been, and that’s an issue that Marvel usually has when trying to juggle multiple characters in a film like this.
There were few supporting acts that weren’t Superheroes, such as Sharon Carter and Everett Ross (Emily VanCamp and Martin Freeman). Each of them plays their part in helping the story progress, and it’ll be nice to see them in future MCU films. While it could be said that Both Captain American and Iron Man were both antagonist to one another throughout the film, this was another Marvel project that suffered from the lack of a compelling villain. Crossbones (Frank Grillo) died within the first 10 minutes of the film, and Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) was something of a mystery. He worked in the shadows, pulling strings here and there, causing some of the events that led to the heroes fighting. The thing about his character though, is he didn’t do much. If you really look at it, everything that happened in the film would’ve still happened someway or another without him giving it a little shove in that direction. Iron Man could’ve found out who killed his parents another way. It felt like he was just shoehorned in for the sake of having an actual villain in this movie. However with that being said, you can still appreciate the tragedy his character went through. He spends moments in the film listening to the last voicemail his wife sent him before she lost her life in Sokovia, and it makes you gain a small soft spot for him. Then you remember he’s still a villain and you move on.
All of the action in this movie was pretty good compared to the previous films, but the fight scene on the airport was easily the best action sequence in any Superhero film to date, and also one of the best in cinematic history. There were many fears going into it, such as the fact that it was considerably smaller in scale compared to that of the comic book, but that helped work in its favor honestly. When they clashed, you could appreciate it more due to there being less going on because it was so much more personal and each combatant’s personality was seeping through as they fought one another (ESPECIALLY Spider-Man’s). Everyone got their moment to shine and it was incredibly done. Wanda’s abilities were a highlight. They improved a ton since AOU. She’s gone from ripping apart robots to slamming vision through a few buildings and throwing a barrage of cars at Iron Man. Both Spider-Man and Ant-Man served this film in forms of comic relief and added some levity to the situations. Another worry was that in the trailer they showed too much of the scene on the airport but this was completely false. This was a pretty lengthy fight (17 minutes, i think), but there was nothing wrong with that. There was a lot going on that had to be touched on and shown. But the scene that was easily the biggest – yes, pun intended. Shoot me – moment in the whole thing? The Giant-Man reveal. This was the first time we’ve seen that on the big screen and it was such a fan service.
The final fight between Cap/Bucky and Iron Man was a real tear-jerker. After finding out the Winter Soldier was responsible for the death of his parents, Iron Man went on a frenzy. Obviously, if you were were in his situation and found out the guy who deprived you of both of your parents and ruined part of your life was right in front of you, you’d probably do the same as Tony did. On the other hand, Steve knows that Bucky was brainwashed and forced into doing those things, so he does what he can to defend his best friend. That standpoint is understandable as well, splinting you right down the middle and making you question who you actually think is right. At the end of it all, Captain America comes out on top, but there’s not really a winner in this. Tony, now immobile due to his suit being rendered useless, tells Steve that his shield doesn’t even belong to him (seeing as how his dad created it), and that he doesn’t deserve it. Cap drops the shield, and walks away with Bucky, who’s one arm less than he was going into the fight. This was one of the most moving scenes ever displayed in a Marvel film. Everyone suffered a serious loss, and the MCU will change drastically due to it.
There’s this common misconception that in order for a movie like this to really “shake things up”, Someone HAS to die, especially since it’s Civil War and there were casualties in the graphic novel iteration. However, things were pretty shaken up by the end of the movie without any serious character deaths (well, Crossbones but eh). No one wanted to kill one another. Hell, they were telling jokes during some fights. By the end, everyone had lost someone’s trust, the Avengers were no more, Cap and his team are basically criminals at this point, and all of that begged the question: “So what happens next?” That’s the question you want to ask at the end of a movie like this, and surely everyone was thinking it, death or no death.
Captain America: Civil War is full of heart. While it takes a few cues from the popular graphic novel that it’s very loosely based on, it stands as it’s own great production.The scale of this film exceeds that of Winter Soldier, but even then, the story is still so much more personal. There were a few plot holes, and it’s a bit disappointing that we only got to see this new team of Avengers go on one mission before being disband, but the ending made it seem as if we can expect a “Secret Avengers” of some sort down the line. This film served as a good introduction for some characters, and we’re looking forward to them being expanded in their own respective films. In the end, Civil war is a very ambitious story that lays some groundwork for even bigger things to come, and we’re all just looking forward to seeing what the rest of Phase 3 brings to the table.
Captain America: Civil War receives a 9.6 out of 10 from Superhero Task Force.
Captain America: Civil War is now playing in theaters.