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Review: Captain America: Civil War

It doesn’t get much better than this. And I say that fully believing that Marvel can go even bigger, better and more exciting. If after more than ten movies deep into their film slate, Marvel can still produce something as amazing as Captain America: Civil War, then the future remains as bright as ever. This is the epic, spectacular, big bombast superhero movie that Marvel has been building towards all these years.

Movie Rating: 9/10 – Great.

Captain America: Civil War is a glorious mix of spectacle and drama, combining some of the most touching and important character work in the entire franchise with quite possibly the greatest bout of superhero action to ever grace the silver screen. The centerpiece ‘war’ between heroes at the abandoned airport is worth the price of admission alone. It’s worth of price of admission to every Marvel movie we’ve seen so far, building on almost each and every film to instill real emotional heft to these characters and their punches.

When Captain American, Iron Man and their allies face off in Civil War, there is real history behind it. We’ve seen the previous movies. We’ve seen the friendships and rivalries grow and build and strain. We’ve seen Steve Rogers and Tony Stark get testy in The Avengers. We’ve watched Black Widow’s character arc from the sidelines of other movies. We’ve seen Ant-Man consider calling the Avengers for help. This has been a journey.

Civil War is a movie for Marvel fans, for the people who have seen all their movies and probably held mini-marathons to gear up for this new one. It’s not ashamed of that focus, and it shouldn’t be. Marvel is producing a masterpiece on a scale never before imagined, and they’re pulling it off with such skill and excitement that I almost feel bad for other movies.

Like, do any of the previous Spider-Man movies even matter anymore? Batman v. Superman surely doesn’t.

Join me after the jump for the full review. There will be SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War.

The plot is wonderfully simple, and fits perfectly with the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe. The comic version of Civil War was written and published before even the first Iron Man movie was a thing, so it really is kind of a marvel that it fits so well at this stage of the MCU.

And Cap’s costume has only gotten better!

After all of the destruction in The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the world wants to reign in the Avengers. They want everybody to agree to United Nations supervision, where somebody with authority will oversee their superheroics. Iron Man, who has been slowly slipping into PTSD, readily signs on the dotted line. But Captain America isn’t about to let some bureaucrat decide where and when he gets to help people and save the world. It’s to the movie’s credit that both heroes come off as believable.

Underneath all of the politics, the villainous Zemo frames the Winter Soldier for an international incident, sending the brain-washed Bucky on the run. Believing in the goodness of his old friend, Captain America goes rogue to try and save him and prove his innocence, while Iron Man falls in line with the proper authorities to try and arrest the suspected assassin.

All our favorites heroes — with a few very notable new additions — fall in line on either side, and we get treated to a movie for the ages.

And a battle for the eons!

The performances are top notch in this film, Chris Evans continues to make Captain America the heart of the Marvel movies, easily holding the spotlight separately from Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Who could have guessed that the Captain America trilogy would be better regarded than the Iron Man trilogy? But Cap remains pure and awesome, a hero through-and-through. Even when conventional wisdom would suggest that maybe arresting Bucky wouldn’t be such a bad idea, you still can’t help but side with Cap and the power of friendship.

Not that Tony Stark gets the short end of the stick. Downey gets to really emote in this film, as a lot of the plot and twists really hit home for him. Whereas Evans just has to be firm and heroic, Downey really gets to sink his teeth into the material. He is definitely the co-star.

And arguably has the cooler sidekick

Sebastian Stan as Bucky is a little underplayed, but it makes sense for the character, who has been through more than his fair share of brain washes. The character is nicely troubled and sympathetic, even when you know he’s done evil things. I firmly believed in Cap and Bucky’s friendship by the end.

And everyone else is pretty great too. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo give everyone enough screen time and dialogue that nobody gets lost in the shuffle. Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Vision, Hawkeye and all the rest are fully fleshed-out people in this movie. They’re not just action figures or pawns. Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch gets a surprising amount of focus, really filling out her character beyond her Age of Ultron debut. And Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is a personal favorite character of mine, and his cameo does not disappoint in the slightest. He was hilarious.

That’s him in the back!

Of course, the biggest additions to the cast are Thomas Holland as Marvel’s Spider-Man (very different from SONY’s Spider-Man) and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. The former is mostly a cameo, but it’s one hell of a cameo! Holland immediately embodies the role of the nervous, geeky Peter Parker, in ways we haven’t seen before on the big screen, despite five pre-existing Spider-Man movies. He’s simply amazing! He’s funny, he’s friendly, he’s heart-warming, he’s quippy, he’s got the moves and the look. 

I’m pretty sure I said the same thing when the Amazing Spider-Man movies first came out, but this is now the definitive movie Spider-Man. Holland is stunning in the role.

This now-iconic picture doesn’t begin to scratch the surface

And Boseman proves why Black Panther deserves his own upcoming solo movie. Panther is a bigger player than Spider-Man in Civil War, and gets his own fulfilling and interesting story arc. I rather enjoyed his journey in the movie, and he’s great in action. If you weren’t excited for his solo film before, you will be after Civil War.

Daniel Brühl gets the thankless job of playing the movie’s villain, Zemo. He does a fine job, and Zemo’s story is solid enough to justify his inclusion, but Civil War isn’t about the bad guy. And I’m perfectly OK with that. Some people might complain that Marvel still has a villain problem, but I would argue that the Marvel movies have never been about the villains. Why should they be?

I can remember that back in the 90s, when the crappy Batman movies were the only superhero films in town, that the big name actors brought in to play the new villains was always a big deal. Jim Carey as the Riddler! Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze! But that’s only because the Batman of those films was a bore.

That is most definitely not the case in these modern Marvel movies. The heroes are the stars of the show, and the heroes provide more than enough entertainment for me. Who needs great villains when you’ve got outstanding heroes? 

Especially when a movie like Civil War gives them so many amazing stories to work with.

Almost as exciting as the fight

The characters are great, the story is great, the emotional beats are great; the movie is great. But I would be remiss if I didn’t throw in an extra word about that big, spectacular fight scene at the airport. We’ve all seen hints of it in the trailers, but those glimpses do not do the battle justice. It just keeps going, and it just keeps getting better and better! And when you think it’s over, there’s something new and even more amazing! It’s this huge, giddy, spectacle of superhero action. And every character gets a moment to shine! Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Black Widow, the list goes on and on! Every character is used, every character is awesome. Super powers, quips and one-liners fly willy nilly, delighting audiences and characters alike.

This scene is the highlight of not just Captain America: Civil War, but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Every second was thrilling.

I can’t wait to see Civil War again, and to see what Marvel does next!

——————

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on May 6, 2016, in Avengers, Marvel, Movies, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. But how will the audience be capable of connecting with the new Spider-Man if they don’t see uncle Ben die again?

  2. Civil War certified fresh at 91%
    Zootopia certified fresh at 98%
    Jungle Book certified fresh at 94%
    The Force Awakens certified fresh at 92%

    I’m a hardcore DC fan. This is why I tell people I wish Disney had purchased DC instead of Marvel.

    The House of Mouse must be partying hard right now. Good for them, they’ve definitely Made Mine Marvel. I’ll always be a DC fan, but I also like the Marvel characters and it’s good to see that THEY are at least doing well, in the hands of directors who aren’t ashamed of the fact that they’re comic book characters.

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