Captain America: Civil War: The Official Nerfed Llamas Review – The Bromance Awakens
Much like my review for Batman V Superman, at first I wasn’t going to write it, and then I was, but then I wasn’t again, and now here we are and I’ve already gone ahead and written the datgumm thing. If you are a regular to this blog, then you know that I’m doing a month long tribute to Full Moon Features. As such, I didn’t want this review to take away from my dedication to that month long project. Turns out I could write a review for Trancers II (an amazing Full Moon movie that you totally should read the review for, and then go watch the entire series of Trancers films) and a review for Captain America: Civil War all in the same day. Since I’m clearly cross promoting the hell out of my Full Moon month in this opening statement anyway, I figure it’s alright to let me sneak a review in for the new Marvel Studios summer blockbuster. So suit up readers, it’s time to review a Cap flick (as spoiler free as possible)!
What is Captain America: Civil War: Captain America: Civil War is the third movie in the Captain America franchise, the thirteenth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and essentially the culmination of eight years of connected continuity based story telling. A vast majority of all the major events that have happened since Marvel Studios launched Iron Man in 2008 have started to add up. Even though super powered heroes have risen up to save innocent citizens around the planet, the threats that they face have becoming increasingly more daunting. For every citizen they save, the actions of the heroes may inadvertently be killing just as many innocent citizens. The governments of the world have been keeping a weather eye on the Avengers, and after the incident in Sokovia (during the Avengers: Age of Ultron) in which hundreds of innocents dies, and another bad event in Wakanda, it is agreed upon by the United Nations to have the super powered individuals registered, cataloged and potentially utilized as an operative for the U.N. This plan, named the Sokovia Accords, is backed by Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) and a handful of other heroes who believe that it is the right thing to do, and that it holds them accountable for when things go wrong. Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) disagrees vehemently, stating that the whole idea of the Avengers is that they worked together as a team beholden to no specific government or agency, and furthermore believes that having that level of oversight would hinder the Avengers ability to act quick enough to save the day, if they would even be allowed to act at all. There is another factor at play here as well. A series of explosions have happened recently, one of which kills the king of Wakanda, and all indications seem to point at Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) as the culprit behind the attacks. Captain America believes that Bucky is innocent and Iron Man believes in following the U.N.’s lead and having Bucky arrested, dead or alive. The rift between Cap and Iron Man comes to a head as the two add members to their own respective teams, and ultimately they go to battle over ideologies and what the fine line between being a hero and being a vigilante is. Believe it or not, that is pretty much spoiler free as it is all information that can be gleamed from the trailers (and it’s not even a quarter of the content in the actual movie). Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: the First Avenger & the Winter Soldier) and directed by Anthony & Joe Russo (the Winter Soldier, Arrested Development) Captain America Civil War stars Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Sebastian Stan (the Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Emily Van Camp (Agent 13), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Frank Grillo (Crossbones), William Hurt (General Ross), and Daniel Brühl (Zemo). Whew, that’s a whole lot of folks
The What I Liked: First and foremost, I liked that even though there is a ton of characters and events in Civil War, it is still firmly a Captain America movie. One of the chief concerns I had going in to the movie was wondering how they were going to allow Cap to claim this movie as his own. What I found, was a wonderful narrative that starts with Captain America calling the shots in the first act, then with him swaying the whole story in the second act, and his determination and resolve driving the final parts of the third act. This is a Captain America movie through and through, with a whole bunch of super powered guest stars.
This is, at it’s heart, a movie about Steve and Bucky’s friendship and the extraordinary lengths that Steve will go through to stick up for his childhood buddy. Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan do an excellent job as Steve and Bucky, respectively. There is a lot of camaraderie that is established between the two, and even a bit of new friend/old friend awkwardness between Anthony Mackie’s Sam (the Falcon) and Bucky. Steve is desperately wanting to get his best friend back, and Bucky is wanting to try and live up to his expectations, unfortunately they hit a few snags on the way. There is something dark in the Winter Soldiers past, a secret that would be potentially volatile if it were to get out, and it puts Steve in a difficult position when dealing with his friends in the Avengers and the information that he gives them, as he wants to protect Bucky and clear his name before the members of team Iron Man can arrest his best pal. All of these factors combine to show what a big heart Steve has, and also how much stress it puts on him as he manages to try and save the world and his friends at the same time on a daily basis. Friendship and trust matter to Steve, and he wants to make sure that it matters to everyone on his team, just so long as he feels he can trust them.
The fundamental rift between Captain America and Iron Man makes sense (unlike a certain major super hero conflict film *cough* Batman V Superman *cough*). Given the way that Iron Man has behaved in Iron Man 3 (embroiled in a plot that involved an attempted assassination on the President of the United States) and the Avengers Age of Ultron (he effectively creates Ultron with the help of Dr. Banner), it definitely makes sense that he would believe in superhuman registration. For Captain America, if you factor in the events of the first Avengers film (S.H.I.E.L.D. keeping secrets from the team), and the S.H.I.E.L.D. destroying events of the Winter Soldier (the rise of Hydra and how they had operatives all throughout S.H.I.E.L.D.), then it makes perfect sense that he would not be interested in letting an outside agency dictate and scrutinize his every move. The core story of Civil War is that Captain America has information and insight into the bombing incident, but the U.N. is looking to avenge the death of the King of Wakanda, not in the truth behind why the bombing happened and who is really responsible for the crimes.
The giant pink elephant in the room: the other heroes in the film are awesome! They each get a moment to shine as well as an emotional moment for the audience to connect with them. Every last one of them is important to the story without overtaking the story away from Captain America. Spider-Man is introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a fun way. Ant Man steps up in a HUGE way. Vision gets to do all of the awesome stuff that he does in the comics, while at the same time questioning his purpose and the validity of the Avengers concept. Black Widow is part liaison between Steve and Tony trying to help maintain the balance, part realist knowing that it’s going to tip one way or the other at some point, and amazingly always hardcore regardless of the situation. Falcon and War Machine back their respective friend and show what it means to truly have someone’s back through thick and thin. Hawkeye is the seasoned veteran that reigns the rooks in. Scarlet Witch is still coming to grips with the death of her brother and her role within the team. Agent 13 is a friend to Steve within the C.I.A., who gives him a connection between his past life and shows him a path to his future (I won’t spoil how). Finally, Black Panther is amazing from his introduction as the Prince of Wakanda, to his emergence as the King, he is a force to be reckoned with and is hellbent on avenging his father’s death. All of the supporting characters play an amazing and integral role to the film, and it makes Civil War something special to watch.The action, OH MY GOSH THE ACTION, it is absolutely over the top amazing, like tears of sheer bliss amazing. This is truly comic books come to life, or as close as films have ever come to portraying a true comic book no hold’s barred knock down drag out fight. It is a marvel to behold, pun intended and necessary. This is what comic book fans have been waiting for since comic book films became mainstream box office staples. This is the goods, folks. ‘Nuff said!
What I Didn’t Like: As much as I’d love to tell you that Civil War was perfect, that would be disingenuous. It was almost nearly perfect. Oddly enough, the biggest bone that I have to pick with the movie is the fact that Peter Parker’s aunt May is super hot in the movie, like ridiculously so. This is not a condemnation of Marisa Tomei or her performance. She did a great job being Peter’s hot aunt, I just don’t remember him ever having a hot aunt. It’s a bit jarring to see aunt May portrayed this way, as I feel like her and Tony Stark are gonna end up hooking up in the new Spider-Man flick coming out next year.
My only other major gripe with the film is that the order to take Bucky in “dead or alive” comes exceptionally quickly from the U.N. No trial necessary, shoot him dead if he resists. At that point early on in the movie, the only person who cares whether Bucky is captured and fairly questioned is Captain America and his partner Falcon. It just struck me as a tinge odd that more or less everyone else was cool with the U.N.’s decision. Ultimately, it all works out satisfactorily in my book, but in retrospect I believe there was room for some excellent drama with the team treading the boards more on how to bring Bucky to justice. Also, the main villain is a tad under cooked, but that is woefully the standard in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with the exception being Loki), so it is to be expected.
Bottom Line: As far as multi-faceted, highly layered, stuff to the gills with superhero movies go, Civil War is the gold standard in terms of blending both action and the emotional weight of those actions. Captain America: Civil War is a shining example of how and why a shared Marvel Cinematic Universe is a beautiful thing. There is a sort of poetry to how all of the characters are connected and how they interact with each other. The team-ups during the major hero-on-hero confrontation makes absolute sense, and the battle that ensues is not likely to be topped in a cinema any time real soon. Marvel Studios set the bar freakishly high with Civil War, and it will be truly interesting to see if Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 can keep the quality as high as it currently is. I cannot recommend this movie enough, go see Captain America: Civil War now, and if you’ve already seen it… go again! Trust me, it’s that good.
Check out the trailer for Captain America: Civil War and see if you think it’s the BIFF!, BAM!, and the BOOM! that you are looking for in a summer blockbuster: