Captain America: Civil War Review

Cap Civil War

So I’m going to watch Avengers: Infinity War tomorrow (or today, when this review goes up!) but I didn’t really have the time to watch a lot of MCU films leading up to it… in fact I just squeezed this one in, but still! Let’s have a look at Civil War, the film that could be argued as the real Avengers 3, though I feel that’s unfair given the focus is still very much on Captain America rather than the ensemble of heroes around him. It’s also the film that introduces us to both the MCU’s Spider-Man and Black Panther, the latter of whom’s solo film would turn out to be more successful than the former, which no one would have guessed a few years ago! So let’s dive in!

Synopsis:

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference, whereas Iron Man sharply disagrees and supports oversight. Just as things begin to reach breaking point, Winter Soldier returns, and a new event triggers a split in the Avengers that may never be repaired…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Cap Civil War 2

It’s scenes like this that make me appreciate how far the MCU has come… I mean Ant-Man and Scarlet Witch are in the same scene and both are just as legitimate a character as Cap. Crazy, but great, times.

Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) – Steve still has his old pal Bucky on his mind, knowing the former assassin is still out there, but the trail has gone cold, and he has a team of Avengers to lead…

Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) – Tony tried to step away from his super hero life, but found his couldn’t, whether that be for the sake of the people or his own ego… an ego that will soon receive a blow from a grieving mother…

Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) – Bucky was a WWII hero who got turned into the Winter Soldier by Hydra, an assassin periodically thawed from his icy tomb in Siberia to carry out missions, before being re-frozen. He has memories of both his life as Bucky Barnes and friendship with Captain America, and his time as an assassin. He is constantly on the run, trying to remember who he even is any more…

T’Challa / Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – T’Challa is Wakandan Prince who looks up to his father as he tries to bring Wakanda out of isolation and into the wider world…

Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) – Zemo’s wife, child and father were killed in the Sokovia incident. Since then he has been blinded by thoughts of vengeance against the so-called heroes he deems solely responsible.

Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – Formally a Russian spy-turned SHIELD spy, Natasha now hangs out with The Avengers, a fact that will soon lead to a painful decision for her…

Sam Wilson / Falcon (Anthony Mackie) – Sam is now a close friend of Captain America himself, and wishes to help him in anyway he can… no matter how serious things end up getting…

Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland) – Peter has found himself with super-powers, and now he’s getting used to the idea of using his powers to help the little guys with small crimes… That is until a certain Mr. Stark pays him a visit…

James Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle) – Rhodey has been a friend of Tony Stark’s for a long time, and as been an active hero as “War Machine” for longer than most of the Avengers as well (at least publicly anyway), so when things start to go south, he knows what side of the fence he wants to be on…

Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) – Wanda is a mu… has been altered to have super powers ranging from telekinesis and hypnosis. Her powers are so great that she makes many of her own team fear her…

Vision (Paul Bettany) – An artificial life form that is slowly beginning to gain more humanity as time goes on, and has started to feel attached to his fellow super-powered ally Wanda…

Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – Clint retired from the dangerous life of an agent / Avenger and was enjoying the quiet family life… until he got a call from Captain America…

Scott Lang / Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) – Lang is a thief who believes he can become a hero now he has the power of Hank Pym’s suit and particles… well, it’s time to put that to the test!

And many more!

The Good:

Cap Civil War 4

Spider-Man faces off with Captain America… in a film rather than a Playstation game!

Before we get the more obvious, action-oriented bit, I want to praise the job this film does balancing the cast and giving the large cast so much to do. Captain America is still very much himself, sticking to his principles and his allies, and Tony Stark is still very much arrogant, but also afraid and racked with guilt over things he’s done and once again he’s taking command and throwing what he can at the problem to make it go away. This is why their break up works. Bucky is somewhere in between his old self and the Winter Soldier, but by the end of the film he’s back to being like an old ally to Cap again, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when his past comes back to haunt him once again right at the end. Just when everyone found common ground Tony finds out Bucky killed his parents and then that’s it, all bets are off. The harsh words and brutal fight between Cap and Iron Man at the end of the film is great and dramatic, and the very end when Tony demands Steve leave the shield behind because “my father made that for you” is a proper hit in the gut, and really makes you believe that there friendship is irreversibly damaged.

Then there’s the fact that while doing all this the film also introduces both Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU, handily skipping the origin stories for their respective solo films, and still by the time the big airport fight scene happens you feel they’re just as part of the cast as the characters who have been around since film 1. Tom Holland just owns the role from scene one, and Boseman’s Black Panther and his slip to hatred and vengeance, followed by his redemption, is a great story arc. That’s a true credit to both the writing and the acting that all that happens in the middle of a Captain America vs. Iron Man film, and it still fits. To top it all off you have some great scenes with Black Widow being torn as to which side to pick, you have some really pleasant scenes between Vision and Scarlet Witch, and even some of the other side characters like Falcon, War Machine and Ant-Man have at least a few funny or dramatic scenes each. It’s no wonder the Russos were chosen to juggle the Infinity War cast, they clearly have the knack.

So now let’s get to the obvious: the aforementioned airport fight. That must have been a pain in the arse to plan and film, but hats off to them, because it’s quite the amazing show. Some funny moments (mostly from Spider-Man, Tom Holland just nails the funny mid-battle quips the character is known for straight away!), there some dramatic moments, but mostly there is just great hero-on-hero action. Ant-Man may steal the show for me though, not just for the scene when he enlarges himself (oo-er?) but I still laughed out loud in this rewatch when he gets Cap to enlarge a fuel truck he had shrank and tossed, only to wince when it explodes and say “Oh I thought that was a water truck… sorry.”

That being said some of the other fight scenes are right up there. Cap and Winter Soldier escaping the swat team has some really well shot fight scenes, both using Cap’s shield and Bucky’s metal arm. Likewise the car chase straight after involving Black Panther is pulse-pounding, and Winter Soldier’s later escape from capture, that sees him out-martial-art-ing (that’s not a correct phrase, but whatever) a bunch of characters in some short but brutal fight scenes are all really good fun to watch.

Much like the comics, the idea that Super Heroes should be controlled due to the collateral damage they cause is a fun conundrum to think about. Should they be allowed free reign? I mean, if a villain started tearing up a city you’d think they should be allowed to act right away rather than get permission, but you can’t blame people who have lost someone to a super-fight looking for someone to blame and to want to have these powered people kept in check. The opening scene of Cap fighting Crossbones, ending with Wanda accidentally blowing up part of a building while trying to save Steve was a good way to set it all in motion (though I think Sokovia is more of a sticking point really…)

I also like the bit of continuity as to why Wakanda is suddenly in the spotlight. Vibranium stolen from them was used to create Ultron’s super-hard body, so feeling responsible they started to send out humanitarian missions, one of which happened to get caught up in the Crossbones explosion, leading to Wakanda spearheading the want to put heroes under control and take part in a global conference about it. It works well, and makes the fact that they were a non-event up until now make perfect sense.

The Bad:

Cap Civil War 1

Black Panther figures out that Zemo may be the one and only villain who actually succeeds with his plan…

MCU films often have the problem of a poor villain, but Civil War doesn’t really have this problem as you can kind of argue that Iron Man is the lead villain. That being said, he and Cap are manipulated into fighting by Zemo, so really he is the lead antagonist, and while he doesn’t suffer from the same problems as a lot of the other bad guys, he’s not perfect. I mean, he’s nothing like the comics Zemo, but I don’t think anyone was expecting him to walk around with a purple balaclava stuck on his face due to “Adhesive X”, so I didn’t mind that. In fact I like the fact he was a broken man, his entire family wiped out, but he knew full well he couldn’t actually take the Avengers in any kind of fight so instead used his intelligence to get them to take each other out instead. So why is he in “The Bad” section then? His plan makes no sense. It relies far to heavily on coincidence to actually be planned. Think about it, if Iron Man hadn’t gone to the prison to visit Falcon and managed to convince him to tell him where Cap and Bucky were, he wouldn’t have been there to see the video of his parents’ death and turn on them. I know the film is called Civil War and all that, but if he had just locked Cap and Bucky (and coincidentally Iron Man when he turned up) in a room and unleashed the five or six other super-powered Winter Soldiers on them it would have been a more realistic plan, if not a bit more clichéd.

Still, like I said, as Bads go this isn’t a major one. It doesn’t really ruin my enjoyment of the film in anyway, and the fact that it all lead to Black Panther learning a lesson about revenge and sparing Zemo’s life so he can pay for him crimes was a good pay off for that side-plot. It’s just a shame Zemo’s big moment is ruined by how illogical it is…

I also have say that I’m still amused that Captain America drops a super-heavy plane connecting bit on Spider-Man’s head to end their battle… Cap’s only just met him! How did he know he wouldn’t just squish the naive kid to death? I guess when he and Parker were pulling back against each other with the web he gauged how strong he was, or something like that. It still makes me laugh though, he can’t have been 100% sure… (this isn’t a strike against the film per say, just a humorous observation…)

Overall Thoughts:

Cap Civil War 3

The decisive blow!

Captain America: Civil War is jam-packed full of action and great character moments, dialogue and debuts, yet still manages to tell a story focused on Captain America, on what makes him tick and his loyalty to his friends. With one plothole that doesn’t really derail the film, it’s hard not to just applaud it for being able to juggle so much and still make it a satisfying film. Top stuff.

5 Star Watch

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