Captain America: Civil War
This is the second film pitting two superheroes against each other after Batman v. Superman. It is also the second film that inserts a disappointing and unnecessary villain. Captain America: Civil War is a great blockbuster film, probably on the same level of enjoyment as the first Avengers film, but it doesn’t quite break out of its blockbuster mold.
Captain America: Civil War is essentially the third Avengers film. We continue to follow our superheroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), etc. as they continue to go on missions to save the world. However, in a very smart move by directors Joe and Anthony Russo, the superhero team is confronted by the US government (represented by William Hurt) who thinks that the Avengers are getting out of hand and cause much destruction when acting heroic. 171 countries have written a treaty that would allow the UN to regulate the Avengers’ actions. This causes a rift between the Avengers. Captain America refuses to sign, thinking that government control might prevent them from making moral decisions that benefit humanity, while Iron Man thinks that the Avengers have caused enough damage and that they need be reined in. The Avengers essentially dissolve and each team member takes a side. The film becomes more complex with the resurfacing of The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) a childhood friend of Captain America’s who is blamed for certain terrorist attacks, and a mysterious hacker named Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who’s digging up lost secrets of the dissolved criminal organization HYDRA. Along the way we also have the introduction of two new superheros: Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and a new Spider-Man (Tom Holland).
It goes without saying that if you haven’t seen the previous Marvel films you will be completely lost. The story is incredibly complicated and I for one appreciate that; the audience always likes it when the filmmakers treat them like adults. I also really liked how Joe and Anthony Russo brought in the government and accountability factor to the Avengers, it certainly made logical sense after so many epic battles and ignored casualty counts; it brought Marvel’s franchise a greater sense of realism and credibility. As for the action scenes I was incredibly satisfied with them, they didn’t seem like those from your typical comic book movie, but more from a Jason Bourne or James Bond film. I appreciated the ambitious thread that the Russo brothers spun, but unfortunately they couldn’t sustain it.
My problems with the film were that the ending was elongated almost by force, and certain cheesiness came out of nowhere so the seriousness that the Russo brothers had worked so hard to attain is lost. I think that things should have just been kept simple, keep the fight between Iron Man’s team and Captain America’s team, and if you want to throw little easter eggs of other villains feel free too, but don’t dedicate a whole 45 minutes to a sub plot. I was frustrated with Daniel Bruhl’s villain Zemo, he does end up being essential in the film’s storyline, but I was just very bored with his scenes and was just waiting for them to finish; if you don’t have a good villain, don’t use him. In a way Civil War made the same mistake as Batman v. Superman with Lex Luthor.
On a different not, I want to talk about the amazing cast that Marvel has put together. I could spend a whole paragraph listing the amazing actors that it has garnered, but I’ll just dedicate the time to talk about the new introductions made in this movie. In small roles we have Marisa Tomei (as Aunt May) and Martin Freeman (as a government agent), but the most impressive addition was Chadwick Boseman, who already proved that he was a great actor with his roles in biopics like 42 and Get on Up. With Black Panther he brings such a grief and rage to the role that he feels like one of the few three dimensional characters in the film. And then there is Spider-Man; I for one was not very impressed with Tom Holland’s earlier work (The Impossible, In the Heart of the Sea), but I have to say that he is one of Marvel’s best casting choices since Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Holland brings a nerdy-ness and a innocent sense of youth that was what had made Spider-Man so likeable in the comics. He has great chemistry with the other Avengers (especially Downey Jr.), and he is excellent with Marisa Tomei (not that we get to see much interaction). If I were to compare Holland to the other two Spider-Mans that we’ve had on screen (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) I’d honestly say that Holland is the best we’ve seen so far.
In the end the film is enjoyable and satisfying with a darker and more realistic first half. Towards the end, however the movie falls more into a Joss Whedon Avengers tone that proves to be disappointing and droning. The ending is a bit long and forced, and Daniel Bruhl is wasted as an obtrusive villain, but overall Captain America: Civil War is a good time, fan boys will certainly be drooling in their seats.