I’m stepping away from our “Through the Decades” series to look at the blockbuster giant Captain America: Republicans vs Democrats. I mean Avengers 3. I mean Civil War. Does this superhero brawl live up to all the hype?
Yes it does.
Captain America: Civil War
Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Machie, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Rudd and Daniel Brühl.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
As a die-hard DC fan, I can say with confidence that this is Marvel’s best and destroys Batman v Superman. It looks good. It shows you why ALL these characters are valuable to the team. The story packs in everything you want in a somehow quick 2 hours and 26 minutes. I’ll do my best to keep the spoilers away and give you a plot.
After all the battles the Avengers have fought, some political leaders around the world are growing frustrated with the lack of control the team has. Despite saving the planet over and over, the destruction left behind and the casualties of war don’t sit well with the United Nations.
The Avengers are asked to sign the “Sokovia Accords,” a document ratified by 117 countries that would place them under the
control supervision of a special U.N. panel. This creates a rift in the team. Captain America thinks it could prevent them from saving lives at times and force them to engage in things they wouldn’t normally want to do. Iron Man is adamant they be put in check and show the world they want to cooperate and be accountable heroes.
Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is framed for killing the king of Wakanda and only Captain America believes he is innocent. The team is divided and opposing sides are provoked to fight each other. New recruits are brought in to fill out each side of the split.
As Captain America follows the evidence, trying to clear Bucky’s name, Iron Man pursues and fights Cap and Bucky. They end in a stalemate and go their separate ways.
Highlight if you want to read who was behind it all
It turns out a man named Colonel Zimo was behind it all. His family was killed in the final battle of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Zimo wanted to get back at the Avengers (because of his family’s death) by pitting them against each other. He framed Bucky and knew it would drive a wedge in the team. Later, Zimo shows Cap, Bucky and Iron Man a video of Howard and Maria Stark being killed by the Winter Soldier. This is what brings the three to the final fight and prevents Tony from being able to welcome the other two back. Captain America admits he knew Bucky was responsible the entire time.
So here is the split…
I’ll try to keep this short so you can get out and see the movie. There are two things I really want to focus on. First are the new characters.
Black Panther was a character I wasn’t very familiar with. I can’t wait for his solo movie! I assume his training involved a lot of Parkour and going to the zoo.
Panther’s integration into this movie and how he got involved in the big battle was incredibly well done. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely deserve a ton of credit for flawlessly blending a completely new character with motives separate from the entire rest of the cast.
I think T’ Chala (Black Panther’s actual name) will be giving Cap some competition in the nobility department.
One thing the movie didn’t go heavy into was the significance of Vibrainium to Wakanda. That is the metallic material used to create Captain America’s shield and what Ultron used for a body in Avengers 2. Wakanda is unique in that their people are the only ones who possess and can manipulate Vibrainium. At least in the comics.
Of course we have Marvel’s golden child coming home with spectacular success. Spiderman is part of the crew and he does not disappoint.
I have mentioned before that my least favorite super hero of all is Spiderman, but what we get here is perfect for me. We don’t get any youthful angst or struggle between fighting bad guys and finishing homework. He has about 15 minutes of screen time and it’s entirely jokes and fighting.
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spiderman does a great job showing you how old Spiderman was meant to be. At a certain point during the “main event” at the airport, we see Spiderman get knocked around pretty harshly by Captain America’s team. Despite having super strength I really started to feel worried for this kid. As far as comedy goes, Paul Rudd comes close but Spiderman wins in this movie.
One small criticism I had was the CGI. There were a lot of practical effects and wire-work in this film, but when Spiderman and Black Panther became full computer generated images it stood out to me a lot. But they were pushing the action in this so hard I can’t blame them. Like Captain America: Winter Soldier, the action in this movie is quite intense. When Captain America or Bucky Barnes kick you, you are guaranteed a six month hospital stay.
I also wanted to discuss the politics of this movie. I don’t intend to review a lot of Superhero films, only the ones that wish to communicate something deeper than cool fighting and spectacle. As I said before, Batman v Superman was a let down of a movie even though it shot for the stars with its worldview content.
Civil War promised an examination of personal politics. Let’s be honest. This movie reflects 21st century Conservatism vs Liberalism, broadly speaking. Captain, no surprise, is representing a conservative view of government. He is uncomfortable with the United Nations making important decisions with moral implications for them. He feels “the safest hands are still our own.” He represents individual liberty in a superhero world.
Meanwhile Tony Stark, also seemingly obvious, represents a modern liberal perspective. If you will allow me to very briefly go deep deep down into editorial land:
Tony Stark, driven from a very simple and entirely emotional foundation, feels that government intervention is a safer and easier way of accomplishing his goals.
I was concerned going into this movie that Tony would not have a compelling case for why anyone would be #TeamIronMan. His sincerity for wanting to avoid more casualties is felt and helps. They did an okay job, but I still don’t think anyone could walk away from this movie not being on Captain America’s side. I’ve even spoken to a few people who’s personal politics lay strongly in the modern liberal camp, but they are entirely in support of Captain America. I realize this is just a silly popcorn movie but that does make me question their understanding of government.
One thing I think Captain America has done perfectly since his first solo film was show the strength of those old fashioned traditional values that distinguished the youth of the 1930s and 40s as opposed to the current generation who feel that mopping a floor and cooking a burger is a job that warrants $15 an hour.
It amazes me how beloved Chris Evans’ portrayal of Captain America has become so loved in a time where what he represents is often looked down upon and considered antiquated. Maybe Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would have done better if they put on red, white and blue clothing and carried a shield around.
I have very little negative to say about this movie. I would only caution parents who enjoy bringing their smaller children to Marvel movies that this one has noticeably more profanity in it. And the bloodless action is as intense as a PG-13 movie could be.
I also think there was an unresolved logic issue in the Avengers taking sole blame for all the casualties of their previous battles. Alien Invasion, flying ship prepared to assassinate millions of people, crazed robot trying to take over the world (which was somewhat Tony’s fault, to be fair). The Vision gives a single sentence to explain away why the Avengers could be at fault for the amplified level of threats, but it wasn’t enough.
The standout strength of this movie is how well every single character shows their worth. The Russo Brothers have beaten Joss Wheadon. In the middle of the movie the main battle between the two sides occur and it is everything you could ever hope for in a superhero mash up. All characters are juggled perfectly. Any movie that can show how Hawkeye and Ant-Man could stand up to Iron Man and The Vision is a success.
I think this is Marvel’s best movie yet. Iron Man was great, but had antagonist flaws that hurt the movie a lot for me. The Avengers was great for one watch and then I got tired of it. Age of Ultron was just an okay movie with scattered moments of greatness. Civil War is something I want to go back to a few more times. I think there is still more I didn’t pick up on the first time and I think the humor will withstand multiple viewings.
Well done Marvel!
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Review by Ryan.