Captain America: Civil War Review: Setting A New Bar For Marvel Movies

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After years of planning, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is finally hitting what will be one of its most defining moments thus far with the release of Captain America: Civil War. The story, adapted from the legendary comic event with the same name, changed the Marvel status quo when it was finished and despite knowing the movie adaptation would be much more condensed, it accomplished the same result. After the major success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I was extremely excited to see how the Russo brothers would adapt one of the most famous comic stories, and once again, they haven’t let us down. Despite the film feeling like it was an “Avengers 2.5” with how many heroes are included, the Russo brothers still make sure that this is very much Captain America’s movie. For me, personally, I was never concerned about whether or not it would be “Captain America’s movie.” Civil War is a very straightforward story that presents two reasonable sides to a big question and, if handled correctly, displays the true personalities of Captain America and Iron Man, how they view the world and what they believe is right.

Civil War handles everything pretty much as perfectly as you could hope for and has everything you want in a movie; great writing, proper character representation and development, all types of tension, fantastic fight/action sequences and a well-done story. I think that, more than anything, Civil War just displays how well the Russo Brothers and the movie’s writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, understand these characters. Each character was appropriately handled and they nailed the whole dynamic between Tony and Steve. The thing I love about Civil War (both the comic and the movie) is that nobody is wrong here, and they do a great job of showing us where these character’s feelings and intentions are rooted from and that it’s always just a matter of perspective. The film even goes the extra mile to give us the general perspective of the other team members as well; I loved the comparison of Rhodey and Sam in the movie. Rhodey is a war and military veteran who has been doing things for so long that he loves his country and believes in what his government decides is best while Sam is younger, has served less time and still isn’t afraid to stand up for believing in the good of people with Cap. Civil War is just full of well-thought out character development that comes across as both honest and accurate.

The inclusion of new characters was also handled extremely well and never once did I feel like the movie was over-crowded or attempting to cram too much in that it began to take away from the story’s main focus. Black Panther was phenomenal and the story arc for his character was really well-done. I loved that his intentions were emotionally charged and rightfully rooted in vengeance, but that the character’s intelligence allowed him to be rational enough to realize that he needed  to re-evaluate how and why he was doing things. Black Panther is a character who is considered one of the smartest men in the world and in the comics his intelligence is on par with characters like Tony, Reed Richards and Hank Pym, and I really felt that his moment of clarity at the end was a great representation of that as well as appropriate setup for him to become a full-time member of the Avengers in the future because he realizes he can work with all of these people and both understands and agrees with why they fight for the greater good.

On top of this, we finally received a solid Marvel villain again in [Baron] Helmut Zemo, and hopefully, this is the start of some smarter antagonists going forward. One of Marvel’s biggest problems has been their lackluster villains that feel extremely formulaic; they seem good, abuse their position of power to attempt to take over the world, almost succeed, but are always taken out in the end. Yet, in Civil War, we get a man operating on the same emotionally charged intentions as a majority of the story’s heroes and is smart enough to realize that people stronger than him have lost to the Avengers, so he had no chance unless he distracted them with each other. Zemo was just so well-done in this movie and I was so happy to see them set him up as a solid nemesis in the future. I’m really hoping to see Daniel Brühl return in the future because the movie seems to leave things off that his character has a larger plan, or at least, is just getting started.

Captain America: Civil War pretty much nails everything from a technical standpoint, but completely embodies the emotion and essence of Captain America as a character and Civil War as a story. I really have to tip my hat to Chris Evans once again because he is Captain America and does the character such a justice. Everyone performs great in this movie, but I just love how great Evans operates as Cap and am thrilled to hear he is back on board with doing more Marvel movies. I also loved the decision to not kill anyone off because the choice to paralyze Rhodey has a bigger impact going forward. Despite it seeming like a major death might be the only way for either team in this battle to realize things have gone too far, Rhodey staying alive creates more guilt and complication going forward. Civil War straight up breaks the Avengers and the biggest question I left the theater with was, where do we go from here? How do these people find a way to mend their relationships and fight alongside of one another again with the selflessness and team mentality we saw in The Avengers? Tony has to live with the guilt of feeling like his actions and creation of Vision were the reason his best friend is paralyzed. Sam, despite acting in self-defense, feels guilty for walking away unharmed and watching a man he respects nearly die because of his decision.

Marvel really lucked out with the Russo Brothers, because they have a great grasp on filmmaking and how to put together a fantastic superhero flick. Captain America: Civil War is easily the best movie that has been released in the MCU so far and is tied for my personal favorite Marvel film. For me, Civil War needed to have Cap’s heart and really focus on everything his character stands for. Captain America is a character who believes in the inherent good of the people, he’s just a guy who grew up with a dream and the hard-working spirit to accomplish it, and to him, that’s what is so great about the country he represents. When tragedy strikes, he can never ignore it and helping people is the core of who he is as a person. He’s always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and Civil War nails that perfectly in his determination to find out the full story and achieve ultimate and honest justice. He never doubts Bucky for a second and goes to the extreme length of becoming a criminal in order to ensure his best friend has his chance to tell his side of the story. Cap never once is willing to sacrifice what he believes in or knows is right, and that is everything the character is about. Captain America isn’t defined by his shield, his powers, or even his government; he’s a hero in the purest form, who defines himself by what he beleives in and never allows anyone to tell him different. He’s the type of hero who thinks, “it doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world… ‘No, you move.’”

Bravo to everyone involved with Civil War, because the movie was executed pretty much as perfectly as anyone could have hoped for. For me, being a big comic book fan, there was enough there physically, emotionally and thematically to call this a solid adaptation. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but the Russo’s did as well as they could have with the tools they were given. I absolutely cannot wait for both Infinity War movies knowing that these guys are in the driver’s seat. They have the keys to the castle and now they will have more heroes to work with, one of Marevl’s biggest and baddest villains, a larger scale story to play with, all across two films instead of one.

Other Thoughts and Theories:

  • Spider-Man was phenomenal. Tom Holland was SPECTACULAR and the solo movie should be really good.
  • Ant-Man was such a delight in this movie and Paul Rudd keeps making the character more and more enjoyable. I really loved his line in the prison about never trusting Starks only to have Tony respond, “who are you?”
  • It was nice seeing more development of Wanda and Vision’s relationship.
  • Is Bucky’s line at the end about not being safe until he gets the brainwashing out of him a subtle nod about how Doctor Strange might be recruited and incorporated into the Avengers?
  • Could General Ross have been the one to have contracted Crossbones to steal the red serum at the beginning of the film? It would create more reasons his character would benefit from the Sokovia Accords if it allowed him operate above everyone else from behind the scenes for personal gain. Plus, it could be him secretly doing more testing to re-create the Hulk and lead to his eventual turn into Red Hulk.
  • Now that we know Tony and Pepper are on a break, is he going to start dating Aunt May? Is that how he gets included into Homecoming?
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