Release Date: May 6th, 2016
Director: Joe and Anthony Russo
Studio: Marvel / Disney
Starring: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), Scarlet Johansson (Natasha Romanov/Black Widow), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter), Paul Bettany (Vision), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spier-Man), Daniel Bruhl (Zemo), Marissa Tomei (Aunt May), William Hurt (Thaddeus Ross), Martin Freeman (Everett Ross), John Kani (King T’Chaka), John Slattery (Howard Stark)
If there is one thing that a Captain America movie does is make you think about the circumstances that are being presented to you. Yet, it still manages to be so much fun that you walk out of the theatre wanting more. Now that we’ve had two movies from Joe and Anthony Russo I’m starting to think that it is more their influence than just the fact that it falls under the Marvel umbrella. For outing number two the brothers make it clear that the heart is what drove this movie. What these characters thought and what their gut told them drove the story. Rather than pitting a typical villain against them, they became their own villains. In many ways dialing back the scale of the movie made it feel more grandiose. Civil War has proved that a superhero movie can stay fresh and interesting and bring more than just good and bad.
The main driving force of Civil War was always the idea of what would happen when an outside pressure forced the heroes to examine their morals and what they thought was right. Civil War does just that with the Sokovia Accords. It was essentially a UN sanctioned set of laws that the Avengers were to abide by, retire, or become a criminal. It was the way ordinary people could flex their control over the Avengers. Ordering the hero team about with what they could and could not do. It was a way to neuter and control them for their own means. Arising for the need from accountability, half of the heroes agreed and were quickly down with the Sokovia Accords, while the rest of the team was not.
The way the movie pit the team members against each other was rather effective. This review is not meant to give away spoilers, so I’m not going to dig into the motivations that each character had. However, I found it interesting that the film refused to rest solely on the idea that these heroes were taking their stance simply because they either did or did not agree with the Accords. Instead, the movie took the time to clearly establish that each character had more reasons for choosing their respective sides. Each reason was deeply personal and developed the character as a whole. Since everything was so personal it effectively made you feel torn as to which side you truly agreed with.
Civil War took an interesting stance when it came to a throughline in the movie. Again, i’m not going to spoil things, but there was a very human and relatable throughline that revolved around families and devotions. At first it just seemed like an interesting way to get characters to do certain things. However as it progressed there was a distinct connection between fathers and motivation as well. It was interesting to see how soe of these characters dealt with the situation. Another major throughline was the relationship between best friends. This groups up multiple times to varying degrees, but adds an element to the situation that complicates it even more. It truly made the story feel like a civil war in that sense.
What amazed me was that for a movie with such a large cast, that didn’t skimp on leaving characters out or lineless for the reason of simplicity, it still felt like a Captain America movie. I’ll admit it didn’t feel as deeply ingrained like with The Winter Solider, but that was largely because it wasn’t entirely about his personal feelings on the issue. That said, it is tough balancing a lot of characters. Many movies fail when the cast grows too large. Yet, I kept feeling like the core of this movie did keep driving back to Steve and how he was not willing to give up on his friends or what he believed in. I will admit that the focus did lose itself a little bit toward the end of the film. However, that was mainly because of the elements of doubt that the characters were experiencing.
The first character that I’m going to highlight is the glorious T’Challa aka Black Panther. Much of his character motivations are tied up with plot elements that I don’t want to spoil for you, but I have to say he is amazing. Marvel didn’t hold back or attempt to neuter him. Black Panther had a large presence in the film and he was always wonderful. Whether he was walking around like the strong and elegant political figure that he is or gracefully attacking his enemies in battle as Black Panther. There was not a time that he was on screen that my eyes were not on him. He was a deadly fighter. He had enhanced abilities that made me fast, graceful, and strong. He was a beautiful hero to introduce. Through all of this he was driven by very human desires that made sense. If Civil War did one thing it was make me extremely excited for his solo movie.
Most Marvel movies know how to deliver humor, some better than others. It’s rare I enter a Marvel movie and don’t walk out without a single laugh. Civil War had plenty of funny moments. They were delivered by a number of members of the cast. However, I have to admit, I was most amused by Scott Lang aka Ant-Man. From the moment he emerged I was laughing. Paul Rudd just knows how to play him up so well and they do give him quality lines to go with. There’s also the fact that when he’s in action, Ant-Man is an extremely dynamic character to watch. Scott is just so amazing that I can’t stop gushing over him because when I think back to some of my favorite elements and big surprises they involve him. Also keep a watch out for him during the big fight at the airport as Ant-Man has so pretty amazing action that will leave you screaming in excitement.
Now, I would be completely foolish if I didn’t mention Spider-Man. It was a big deal when Disney struck a deal with Sony so they could use him in the movies. It’s a deal that means Spider-Man gets to join the Marvel universe getting the benefit of Marvel’s superior character management. There are intricacies I won’t get into here, but it means we got to see Spider-Man in action. Not only was he delightful, but we got to see a real show of his strength. That was one of the things that I feel the Sony movies didn’t always highlight. Peter Parker is extremely strong and agile. We really got to see his strength on display here as well as his engenuity and quips in action. I liked this version of Peter as he was both entertaining and heartfelt.
Now, I would be foolish if I didn’t mention how well it stacked up to the massive comic event that it is based on. Obviously we are not dealing with the grand scale that we saw from the comics. As such it loses a bit of the punch. It feels like a really bad fight among friends, but it never felt like all out war. Civil War was effective at really establishing how devastating breaking up this team was. There was really a wedge driven between them. However, as an adaptation it just didn’t feel quite as intense or grand even if it did take the major beats from the comics. As such it felt like the baby version of Civil War. (Plus Zemo was turned into something that doesn’t even remotely resemble his character from the comics who actually introduced an extremely interesting element to the storyline that took on a villain perspective.)
Finally, I was really surprised that I ended up loving the relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch. They have had a long standing romance in the comics. However I wasn’t sure that I would like their relationship on screen. I did. They were absolutely delightful and sweet. However it was developed through little moments that ended up really working well. So well that I immediately jumped on that ship.
At the end of this movie Civil War really shines as an ensemble movie. Something I failed to mention in the review was that I loved to see how the characters were pit against each other in battle. Every fight made sense and it the fights were well done. At the end of the day Civil War is the kind of movie I would recommend to anyone who’s already seen a Marvel movie.
What did you think of the movie?