Alright people who are seen as nerds because you watch over-sized fights with heroes packed in spandex (no this isn't a pro wrestling review), it's time to assemble! 2016 has already been littered with superheroes. "Deadpool" made us laugh hysterically. "Daredevil" (on Netflix) let us watch beautifully choreographed fight scenes. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" let us...nap for a few hours? But now, NOW, we're ready for Captain America's third film,
The Avengers: Fighting Between In-Laws "Captain America: Civil War!" Those those of us that got a bad taste in our mouths because of BvS, never fear! Civil War is that balance of drama, action and humor, that BvS was sorely looking for. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. lead our ensemble cast in it's most adult film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so far. There's larger than life action sequences, humorous quips that fit the tone and a pretty good story wrapping up everything perfectly fine. Civil War will make Marvel fans overjoyed and with the addition of new faces, Marvel keeps stacking future films even more now. Big time spoilers below, duh.
"Captain America: Civil War" is set one year after the events in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." It follows the grudge match that breaks out between Captain America/Steve Rodgers (Evans) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr). The Avengers B Team, that consists of Captain America, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), take down Bock Rumblow/Crossbones (Frank Grillo), who stole a biological weapon in Lagos. During the fight, Maximoff is forced to contain a massive bomb blast, but it still levels the floor of an office building. Upon return home, Maximoff is visibly shaken by what she did. The US Secretary of State informs the group that the UN will be establishing a governing body to control The Avengers and use them when needed. The team is divided, with Stark taking one side and Rodgers taking the other. During the meeting in Vienna, a devastating bomb is detonated, killing King T'Chaka of Wakanda and his son T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) vows to kill the bomber, who is identified as The Winter Solider, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). After Captain America tries to get Bucky out of the country, they are captured by US intelligence. While Bucky is being interrogated by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), he is reconditioned by him to escape and does, solidifying the need for him to be caught. Tony Stark assembles his team to stop Rodgers team from causing further damage. In the Avengers biggest misunderstanding, Team Iron Man, which includes Vision (Paul Bettany) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), takes on Team Captain America, which includes Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Rinner), in a fight that may tear apart The Avengers for good.
I see a lot of people, taking a political stance with regards to Civil War. While this is a political thriller, I don't think it's really fair to compare it the current political landscape happening in the United States right now. Nor do I want this review to turn into "Trump this" or "Hillary that." So with that being said, I'm going build a wall around my (real life) political thoughts and try to keep it about the film itself. The film itself, by the way, was pretty amazing. You expect a MCU film to be full of action and humor, since that's been their MO since the first Iron Man film. This one though, takes a turn for suspense and drama, with action built in and humor on the side (and swinging in at you during the middle.) This film is a power struggle and an action drama. Not to mention we get to see the results and consequences of characters growing with their lives and powers.
We have Steve Rodgers having to struggle with the reality that he simply cannot not get involved in conflict. Not to mention, for a good portion of the film, Rodgers is almost blinded by his loyalty to his 100-year old friend, Bucky, despite what he's doing. Not to mention Peggy Carter has passed away and he's dealing with a new steamy relationship with Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), a relative of Peggy herself. Tony Stark on the other hand is dealing with the fact that throughout his life, people have left him. His parents died, Pepper has asked for a break and now The Avengers may be breaking up. Wanda Maximoff is young and learning to deal with the effects of her powers, (which look like she's already one of the most powerful of the group). Vision is learning about literally everything and on top of that he's trying to figure out the Infinity Gem that's on his head. Hawkeye is struggling with retirement, while Ant-Man and Peter Parker has have only had their powers for a limited time. For God's sake, we saw War Machine lose the use of his legs. It's one of the darkest things to happen so far in the MCU and I think it's a turning point, for the direction. Everyone is not the simple superhero we've come to see them as, we're seeing them as real people, or beings, for the first time. They're stronger than us and have powers we don't understand, some would call them freaks, while others a security concern. They see it as them trying to protect us and being (almost) rejected. Gone are the let's team up, hurl one-liners and smash baddies. We're learning, as they are, that there are consequences to everything they do. I think Marvel got that viewers will pick up on all this faster than DC did. So, I can see where Tony Stark was coming from this whole film, people need to be kept in check at times, because as the old quote goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Avengers have don a ton of damage, and as we see in this, killed a lot of innocent people. Hell, handling Sokovia better, would've eliminated Zemo from ever losing his family and turning his life towards breaking up The Avengers. I can also see where Steve Rodgers is coming from. If a terror attack or invasion is happening, you need to be able to act. Not have your hands tied waiting for people to decide if it's the right move or not. I never chose sides, like they wanted me to. Because if they had just dug a little deeper and didn't dial everything up to 11 immediately things would've gone smoother perhaps. But in a world where things need to happen now, both Stark and Rodgers had to do what they thought was right, as quickly as possible. Pile all of this together and you have a pretty great story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
All this is written superbly as the Russo Brothers are setting up the next phase of the MCU supremely. It simply won't be "The Avengers Take On Thanos." We have a whole cast of evolving characters we get to see grow even more in the coming year, so the casting for these guys is as important as this film is. We know that Robert Downey Jr. is Stark, while Chris Evans is entrenched as Captain America, and so on with the rest of the main team we've seen for 13 films now. But what about the others, such as Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Well, we get more glimpses into our new heroes in this, more than I even thought we were going to get. We'll start with Paul Rudd, since he had the smallest role and we've seen his film already. Rudd is as charming as he was in the first film and he's even gotten new moves since we saw him last summer. He's got a great comedic presence and a great sense of humor, so anytime he's involved it will be great. We'll be seeing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in a stand alone film next, so we'll see the full extent of what he can do, but so far it's great. His mannerisms are awesome and the suit and fighting style of Black Panther is awesome. The tunnel chase scene between Bucky, Rodgers/Falcon and Panther was amazing. While outside of the suit, he has a commanding presence on the screen. Finally, Tom Holland is a Spider-Man that I'm already in love with...and his unusually hot Aunt May too, wasn't expecting Marisa Tomei. In this we learn that Peter Parker is exceptionally smart, really young, has had his spider powers for about six months and is ready for his standalone adventure. His movements, suit, one-liners and fighting style were a great mini-introduction to his character. I was not expecting this much of the new Spider-Man to be in here, but he, Black Panther and Ant-Man bring a fresh dynamic to to The Avengers action. All while, Helmut Zemo added that bad-ass bad guy arc. Played perfectly by Daniel Brühl, he doesn't have powers, but he knew what he was doing from the get go. Stoic, unforgiving, vengeful, prepared and most of all, one step ahead, his plan worked to perfection in getting the team to implode from the inside out. Whether he's in jail or not, Zemo, dealt a major blow to The Avengers psyche.
Transitioning to the action, the airport fight scene was absolutely stunning. Team Cap vs Team Iron Man in what turned out to be a blast. I loved seeing Spider-Man fight for the first time. The pairs of combatants, the mini-chase between Spider-Man and Bucky & Falcon, Iron Man vs Scarlet Witch & Hawkeye, GIANT MAN OUTTA NOWHERE, the "How old is this kid?" line, Spidey vs Cap, all the way to the ending of the fight I wasn't expecting in the slightest. Everything about the scene, showcased everyone's powers perfectly. Plus, these new guys haven't even got to mesh with Thor or Hulk yet, so there's even more to look forward to. Alongside the the tunnel chase, (Bucky transitioning to the motorcycle, oh my) these two action scenes stole the film. With the end fight between Iron Man and Bucky Barnes & Captain America coming in a close third. That scene was more driven on emotion and drama as it's the finality of a fight that I don't think any of The Avengers wanted to fight. The action, was powerful, fast-paced (sometimes blurry thought and that's one of my biggest gripes with the film) and most of all, fun. Spider-Man, Black Panther and Ant-Man have now proven they can hang with the big boys on screen, which makes me want to see even more of them in their stand alone films and in the MCU going forward. My biggest problem with Civil War is, like I said above, the blurriness. Maybe it's just me, but there were a lot of points where I thought there was a noticeable CGI blur, that kind-of took me out of the moment. Nothing crazy, or something that would make me hate the film, but these kinds of things shouldn't be that out in the open with a film of this scope.
"Captain America: Civil War" might be the most complete Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date. For me personally it's right up there with "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," as being the top three in the MCU. The writing is evolving to make our heroes, and villains, more relatable. The cast keeps growing, as it should, if this is going to end with a battle with Thanos. The acting is also improving, as everyone plays their roles to perfection. Thirteen films in and Marvel keeps finding ways to keep this long drawn out plan fresh. Sure the CGI fights and team-ups have been in all the films, and we've seen this superhero craze go nuclear. But, I think if not for Marvel tweaking each film, making each film, almost uniquely independent from the rest of the MCU (you could almost watch any of these as stand-alone stories) this idea would've ran dry years ago. Marvel is getting more technical, they're getting more mature, they're getting more humorous (by way of less one-liners blitzed at you) and they're getting bigger. Most of all, they're telling single stories, that when combined, will end with one of the biggest battles in comic and film history. Civil War is but a small battle in the scope of this unfolding universe.