CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
Directed By: Anthony & Joe Russo
Produced By: Kevin Feige
Screenplay By: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Premiered On: May 6, 2016
Distribution By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Now that it’s been a little over two weeks since the film’s premiere, I feel it safe to review but I will say that, as usual with any currently playing film, this review will contain MINOR SPOILERS. You have been warned.
I admit, when I heard that this was going to be the third, and final, film of the Captain America trilogy, I was worried. While it is certainly true that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is quite different from the comics, what with them pairing up Black Widow with the Hulk of all characters never mind the drastically different origin story behind the Vision, I still worried that they would take too much from the actual Civil War that occurred in the comics.
Though, to be fair, that Civil War is undeniably far worse than what occurs in this film for a vast variety of reasons. First and foremost much as I’m sure all of us would love to see there’ll likely never be a singular film that has characters like the Fantastic Four, the Punisher, Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, and everyone in-between including younger characters (both literally and figuratively) all sharing the same screen. Second, because of the sheer scale of superhumans in the comics, it took something far worse than a bomb that killed several humanitarian workers from Wakanda.
In the comics, it took a bomb that took the lives of over six hundred people, including sixty children and all but one member of a team of heroes.
Though the tragedies of innocent deaths were limited to a far smaller number in the film, the overall problem remains though in a far more different sense than in the comics. In the film, rather than creating a Superhuman Registration Act, which is essentially a superhuman signing over their identities, powers, and weaknesses, a new concept was born.
The Sokovia Accords which would put the Avengers under the control of a United Nations panel. Unfortunately, much the SRA, the Accords has divided the Avengers into two splintered factions and, much like in the comics, the simple yet so eloquent idea of simply sitting down and talking this through is all but tossed out the window.
However, I will give credit where credit is due. Steve and Tony attempt to speak of their opinions several times but are constantly being interrupted by some event that needs their immediate and direct attention. Particularly with Steve as his best friend and former war colleague is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and given his already large rap sheet as the Winter Soldier, a kill-on-sight order is preferred over capturing him alive.
Yet that one moment, that one blessed moment, where Steve Rogers and Tony Stark actually take the time to sit down and talk… It really shows off how alike and yet how different the two of them are from each other. Both agree that something like the Accords needs to happen and yet neither of them can agree on just what precisely that is and how to best handle it.
Speaking of handling, here’s where I find myself with the one and only thing that I didn’t particularly care for in the film. Steve’s nigh obsession with keeping Barnes, AKA the Winter Soldier, safe and alive even if it means going against those whom are his dearest and closest friends. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Steve feels an obligation towards Barnes, firstly as a fellow soldier/survivor of World War II and secondly because of the whole Winter Soldier debacle, but for crying out loud, it’s exactly as this one scene goes.
Captain America: “He’s my friend.”
Iron Man: “So was I.”
While I shan’t reveal it here, as this was one moment in particular that I honestly didn’t see coming until it was seconds away from happening, a major reveal was made that neatly solidified the divide between Captain America and Iron Man and irreparably fracturing the Avengers. This reveal was something that, admittedly, we don’t know how long Steve knew about but that he knew it at all and didn’t try and say anything to Tony about it…
It was cowardice, a cowardice that he admits to freely if not directly to Tony.
Aside from this, there was one… nitpick, I guess you can call it that I had. That being that somebody had the brilliant idea of promoting Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross into Secretary of State and making him the de-facto government liaison to the Avengers. This is the guy who all but made it a life goal to tracking down and capturing the Hulk and who has a, direct quote here, “fanatical anti-superhero point of view.”
Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s the best candidate into ensuring the Avengers full and united cooperation.
Moving on to the two new additions to the MCU, I’ll confess that I knew that the Black Panther was going to show up eventually. While not a common member of the Avengers overall, there have been far too many nods towards vibranium and its origins in his home country of Wakanda for him not to make a cameo appearance at the least. When I learned that he had a more solidified role, I shrugged and thought to myself, hey, who knows, he might prove to be an interesting character.
And much like how Hawkeye went from being “meh” to “amazing” in my opinion, so too did the Black Panther. I give a lot of credit to the actor Chadwick Boseman who helped develop the Wakandan accent based on the Xhosa language, that he learned from the actor who plays his father in the film. Boseman made it a point to speak with this accent during the entire production, regardless of whether or not he was on camera, which puts him leagues above most other actors and actresses in my book.
As to Spider-Man, if anyone recalls hearing a massively loud “Whoopie!” when the reveal trailer first aired, that may well have been me. Spider-Man has been, and likely will always be, one of my top favorite superheroes and seeing him included in the MCU of all films had me doing backflips of joy.
Spider-Man in film has been a near constant disappointment. As said in the Honest Trailers for the original trilogy, Peter Parker looked like a puppy and in the mask sounded like a smaller, far less threatening puppy while the “Amazing” duo was a stuttering twit who couldn’t seem to comprehend how to hide his powers and abilities from people.
The MCU version however, is well and truly Spider-Man for how he looks and acts, both in and outside the costume. There’s a moment in the film where Tony asks him outright why he does what he does and I thought to myself, “Oh god, not another rendition of great power comes great responsibility.” Because, let’s face it, the other five films all but beat that line to death when, to my surprise, Peter answers with this:
“When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t, and then the bad things happen? They happen because of you.”
Last and certainly not least, is the quipping. The trilogy was several lacking in this thanks in no small part to the puppy voice and the duo was constrained by silly stuttering, but this one? Oh man, it’s well and truly Spider-Man quipping like mad at all the right moments, particularly during the fight with a gigantic Ant-Man.
“Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?”
That line alone cracked me up but combined with War Machine and Iron Man’s response to it brought honest to God tears to my eyes.
Overall, I give Captain America: Civil War… eh, four out of five stars. I’d give it a solid five, or even higher, but let’s be honest, this is the film that is, quite literally, The Empire Strikes Back of the series. A team divided is never a pretty sight to see, but knowing full well who, and what, is on the horizon… Oh man, let us hope they get their act together and quickly because this Civil War is but the opening game.