Eight years ago, the movie Iron Man began a series that would change the landscape of comic book films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has given every other comic book adaptation something to strive for. Captain America: Civil War, begins Marvel’s third phase of spectacular comic book entertainment. These movies have not lost steam and neither has the audience. Can Civil War continue Marvel’s hot streak?
Captain America: Civil War continues the story of arguably the greatest comic book super team of all time, the Avengers. Civil War lifts liberally from the classic comic story, rightfully so. Things have been changed from the source material, but the one thing that is the most important is, that instead of the “Superhero Registration Act” like in the comic, our heroes deal with a United Nations “Sokovia Accords” act in the movie. This act is a response to what had happen to the country of Sokovia in the aftermath of a battle waged between the Avengers and Ultron from the last film. If you are not familiar with the other movies in this series, this film does not hold your hand to walk you through it. With the cooperation of over one hundred countries, these governments have asked that these so called heroes become accountable for actions to the people that are caught in the middle. Both Captain America and Iron Man have differing opinions on the subject that may splinter alliances and change the Avengers going forward.
Captain America: Civil War is an amazing action filled summer movie spectacular. This movie is special. The Russo Brothers have returned as directors off of their success of Winter Soldier. The Russo Brothers have continued the palpable political tension of Winter Soldier and have firmly planted it into this film. This is the movie’s greatest strength, it is not afraid to broach difficult subjects. Having the team be confronted with the aftermath of their brand of justice makes even the most powerful hero, human. The action that audiences crave is even more impactful here because of a good script and great storytelling. When consequences and body counts become reality the audience empathizes along with the heroes internal struggles and become quite effective when seen on screen. This throughline is new for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s better for it.
Although this is a Captain America movie, you’d be hard pressed not to believe that this wasn’t the Avengers 3. This film is so jam packed with heroes, it’s bursting at the seams. The crux of this movie’s story hinges on two big performances. Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr., Captain America and Iron Man respectively, give two powerhouse performances. You feel their relationship ebb and flow as the movie goes along. The friends become a victim of their own convictions and see it through in an amazing airport battle scene that is already legendary comic book movie fantasy come to life. Evans and Downey, Jr. need to be commended for holding together this film. Ultimately, this film is more about the relationships these heroes share and how they deal with each others differences. That’s the strong theme that these heroes stand upon here and that is where much of the film’s success comes from. All the heroes you know and love return in this film and they all have their moment that define their superhero characters. Three performances in particular are standout here. Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch becomes an essential part of the team in this film and gives real gravitas to her character. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is a thoughtful and exciting character to behold. After this film, I’m really looking forward to the Black Panther stand alone movie. Lastly, Tom Holland as Peter Parker A.K.A. Spider Man, in his short appearance in this film, has and will become the greatest cinematic Spider Man we’ve ever gotten. I’m no longer worried about the fate of the Spider Man cinematic series going forward.
As glowing a review as this is, all is not well here. The villain of this piece is underwhelming, but acts more like a sympathetic character and it’s a serviceable performance. A few story beats become a bit convoluted and a few lapses in logic will have you scratching your head. This should not deter you from experiencing the greatest comic book movie of the ages. I’m not sure how Marvel plans to top Captain America: Civil War, but I certainly can’t wait to see them try.