The third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off with a film inspired by the 2007 Marvel Comics storyline “Civil War.” I was a tiny bit skeptical about this one. Not that I don’t think that Marvel Studios wouldn’t do a good job, rather that with the smaller amount of characters involved the impact may not have been as strong as it did in the comics. Skepticism should never have entered my mind. This film met and surpassed my expectations and while it may be too early to say, has taken the top spot on my MCU rankings. What held the title? Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That movie was a high bar and this one basically set a new bar.
Taking place in the aftermath of Age of Ultron, Civil War has the Avengers facing government accountability for all their actions after a mission in Lagos goes terribly awry. The United Nations comes together to issue the Sokovia Accords which would let the Avengers know when and where they should step in. Steve Rogers is in opposition to these terms as he feels the team works best when not under the thumb of any entity but themselves. Tony Stark is in favor of the oversight, feeling that the fallout of their actions is too great. Their conflict on this splinters the team. To add fuel to the fire, Cap’s friend Bucky (The Winter Soldier) is a wanted man after a bombing at the UN kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda leaving his son T’Challa as the new king.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo continue using the political backdrop as a setting in the vein of 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They know how to take this complex genre and make it even more complex with the addition of superheroes. This makes for a great ideological drama between Rogers and Stark, further complicated by the situation with Bucky.
I loved this film. I loved both the action and the acting. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr both bring such gravitas to their roles. As you watch how things deteriorate between them you really see the results of the reverse character arcs they have been on since their characters first films. The rest of our Avengers veterans (Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen) are superb as usual and for the most part do a decent job showing us who they side with and why.
I wanted to bring special mention to the two stand outs of the Civil War cast, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Boseman as the Prince, later King of Wakanda brings a stoic gracefulness to the role and that carries over when he appears as Black Panther. Even his fighting style is as graceful as his diplomacy is. Holland on the other hand displays quite the youthful exuberance as Spider-Man. He actually reminds me in a way of the Spectacular Spider-Man version of Parker. I felt I could see the excitement on his face as he met the team for the first time.The action sequences are a step up in my opinion from Winter Soldier. As great as that film was it appeared to have been just slightly influenced by the shaky cam style of fight scenes. By no means was it the worst example of that but it did at times make the action a bit hard to follow for me. Civil War on the other hand has nice fluid action that I was able to follow. In addition the dialogue was well written and other than your standard MCU jokes, never felt cheesy. Especially in the final confrontation, you see not so much the enmity, but rather hurt between Tony and Steve. As a viewer you realize both have presented viewpoints that make you not want to pick a side even if you have before you sat down in the theater.
The only aspect of the film that I felt was weak was the film’s villain. I won’t disclose who it is since it wasn’t revealed in any trailers, but while I understand the motivations of their actions, it felt almost inconsequential. You could have removed that aspect of the story and it would not have made any difference.Knowing that the comic book storyline had some immediate changes for the Marvel universe, I was concerned that this wouldn’t have consequences for the movie universe. Considering that the MCU is heading toward the battle with Thanos in Infinity War, would this change anything before we get to that moment? It certainly does and I am even more hooked into the upcoming films to see how the Avengers can recover as we draw closer to meeting the Mad Titan.
Captain America: Civil War is for me an automatic top tier MCU entry. There is action aplenty and most importantly a conflict that threatens to tear apart characters we care about from within. It kind of makes Ultron’s words about doing that a little more poignant. The MCU has changed now and I can’t wait for what’s next.
Final Rating (4.5/5) Only weakness involves the villain’s storyline. It doesn’t however detract from the rest of the movie. It just felt a little pointless. Other than that. Fantastic movie!