Captain America: Civil War
Premiered on May 6, 2016. 146 minutes, rated PG-13.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
This is not a Captain America movie, it’s an Avengers movie. That’s fine, there’s nothing fans like more than seeing these super heroes in action, and there’s certainly a fair share of that in this film, but it just doesn’t have the heart of the previous two Cap films.
There’s a major sense of the guilts running through the heroes after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron with the destruction of Sokovia. An action sequence involving Crossbones has the heroes creating more unintended civilian casualties. The press blames the Scarlet Witch for the deaths, and Tony Stark is accosted by an upset mother who blames him for the death of her son. The Avengers are upsetting the nations of the world, who create the Sokovia Accords, which will place the team under the control of a U.N. committee. Tony is for it because he can’t deal with the guilt, but Steve is completely against it, saying he can’t look away if something is going bad somewhere. Complicating things is the reemergence of the Winter Soldier who’s responsible for bombing a U.N. meeting, resulting in the death of T’Challa’s father. In a nutshell, every country wants the Winter Soldier, while T’Challa, the Black Panther, wants him dead for vengeance. Steve refuses to allow him to be killed. A complication occurs when a non-super powered man gains information on the Soldier and decides to put it to use.
The story, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, nicely deviates from the Marvel Comics mega-series but maintains the general premise: heroes have to register with the government or be considered vigilantes. The scenes between Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. are good; these two are the opposite ends of the Marvel Universe and these two actors make everything their characters say believable. Cap still has his major jones for Bucky, which is completely in line with his comic book counterpart, but there’s barely any time for him to get some moments of reflection on his friend. The first two Captain America movies had audiences believing in the love Steve has for Bucky. Not here. There’s no emotion at all in this film; it’s a mission — Save Bucky. The only time there was a reaction from the audience during a non-fight scene occurred twice, underneath a bridge with Steve and Sharon and a reaction from two individuals in a car. That’s it, then it’s fight, fight, fight.
Involving the Scarlet Witch into the powers debate is really good, given she’s only been seen in one movie. The scenes with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, the Vision, are really strong, and hints at, hopefully, a match up similar to their comic book tales. Something major happens with the Vision in his final act that doesn’t give him enough time to explore. Chadwick Boseman is incredible as the Black Panther. The reason for his rage is justifiable and watching the Panther in action is incredible. The inclusion of Scott Lang into the film brings a needed sense of humor to the production and when he goes into action as Ant Man there’s no question that he belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Paul Rudd needed to be in this film. The audience really came to life when Tom Holland as Peter Parker appears. How he gets his suit is good and watching Spidey in action is a high point. Having Peter be this young is exactly what the character needed for a reboot.
The best action scene of the film is the one that’s been shown in countless previews, as both sides run at each. This sequence is at an airport and it’s the best point of the film. Everyone wants to see how the heroes square off, battling one another and the Russos don’t disappoint. Everyone gets a major scene, with Spidey and Ant Man getting the best scenes. It’s also the easiest part of the film to see the action to occur. This film suffers from major shaky-cam and quick edits, done to increase the pacing. This doesn’t happen as much at this airport, probably because there are much more special effects involved, so they were going to be seen on the screen. However, when it’s a hero not requiring effects, it’s frustrating to watch; almost as if one were watching a Jason Bourne movie after having a six pack of Monster energy drinks followed by just as many espressos. I would love to see the Russos plant their camera and figure out how to shoot an action sequence with resorting to earthquake vision.
The final act of the film has a good surprise, but it’s followed with the predictable confrontation as shown in the trailers. Credit is to be given to Markus and McFeely for giving bad guy Zemo a great way to get this house of cards to come down, and the final scene with Daniel Bruhl and Boseman is outstanding, giving both of their characters outstanding growth. The ending of the film is never in doubt, but is somewhat undone by the first, of two, post-credits scenes. What one character agrees to do came off as really forced, done only to spin off one character into his own film. The second post-credit scene, after all the credits, also is done to spin off another character. In previous Marvel films there were scenes that seemed to be leading to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, but not this film. This is the first film to do so (Okay, don’t even go Guardians here, please: that film focused on an Infinity Stone), and it does make these scenes extraneous.
The good: The acting: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, and Paul Rudd; the special effects, especially at the airport; Zemo’s motivation; Wanda and Vision; and the Stan Lee cameo — his best yet.
The bad: No emotional connection with Cap, save one scene; a camera so shaky it’s difficult to follow the action sequences; a blase soundtrack; and two post-credit commercials. And don’t blink or you’ll miss Alfie Woodward, Marissa Tomei, Martin Freeman, and William Hurt.
The final line: Still better than the last two Iron Man films, Captain America: Civil War is a decent super hero outing, but lacks any emotional connection. Captain America has worn his heart on his sleeve in his previous films. This time he’s too busy running and fighting to find it. Overall grade: B-