Hello interweb, Nate here! So I actually managed to see this movie in theaters on opening weekend so I can actually review it fairly early! Now I’m not going to beat around the bush or anything and just simply jump into this review. But before I review this thing I should warn you that this is a SPOILER REVIEW so if you don’t want to be spoiled (and trust me, you do NOT want to be spoiled) and you haven’t seen this movie yet than please read this at a later time. With that said you might want to grab a snack ’cause this will be a long one!
Movie Title: Captain America: Civil War
Produced by: Marvel Comics
Distributed by: Disney
Writer: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Producer: Kevin Feige
Running Time: 2 hr 27 min
Captain America: Civil War may be my favorite Marvel movie thus far. Yes, better than Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie is definitely a Captain America movie however it also works as an Avengers 2.5 movie based on how the Avengers plays a huge part in the film. Although Cap is unmistakably the main character and focus throughout the course of the movie. This does make sense considering that after being thawed from the ice his social circle really narrowed down to the Avengers and the few old (literally) friends he had left. The movie itself is full of emotion and I’d be lying if I told you my eyes were dry the entire time. The emotional gut punches hit every time and it’ll definitely break you’re heart if you’ve been emotionally invested in the MCU as it takes the form it is today. While Civil War is largely a political conflict of hypotheticals that leads the characters to stand their ground for what they believe is the right thing to do, it’s also a story of close friends who are being torn apart because of the choices they feel they are forced to make in order to do what they believe is the right thing to do
The story is similar to the Mark Millar Civil War comic event but I’m not sure if “adaptation” is the right word to use here. It takes plot lines and story elements from the original story that you can clearly see if you read the comic (I’ll touch on those changes in a bit) however the overall story is original for the most part. The story focuses on the “Sokovia Accords”, which is the film’s version of the Superhero Registration Act from the comics. After all the collateral damage and lost lives that occurred during Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as a scene early in the movie where Scarlet Witch (yes I realize she is still not called that in the MCU but I’m calling her that anyways) accidentally blows up a building and kills several innocent bystanders, the government of the United States (as well as several countries throughout the world) decide that the Avengers can no longer be a private organization of superheroes and have two choices: agree to join the government and remain under their supervision or be forced to end the Avengers. Tony Stark believes the best course of action is to sign the Sokovia Accords and agree to their terms. Steve Rodgers, on the other hand, decides that he just can’t accept the limitations that will come with the agreement and decides to fight against it. I’ll touch upon both sides of the argument in a second.
The funny thing I find with this movie is that it’s almost like a puzzle as there are several small pieces to this movie (Iron Man and Captain America’s political differences, Black Panther’s hatred towards Winter Soldier, etc.) however if you take one piece out than it just doesn’t work anymore. The movie manages to be full of so much and still run smoothly as a well paced film. The movie has several serious moments while at the same time brings the laughs here and there to balance the seriousness and doesn’t suffer from the same problem as Age of Ultron with too many jokes in serious situations. Each character is given a reason to be on the side they’re selected to be on and I’ll touch on those reasons when I move on to discussing each character. If I had any complaints to the story it’s probably the villains. Early in the movie they’re facing the mercenary Crossbones however he’s not really my complaint as his whole purpose is to lead to Scarlet Witch accidentally bombing a building full of innocent people. My biggest complaint is the “main” villain Baron Zemo as he honestly plays as less of a character and more of a McGuffin as he’s in the background of the film leading the events but not really in the master manipulator way but more of he’s just after something and his actions are consequently leading the plot along.
Now adaptations naturally have to change things from the source material in order to work for the medium they’re being adapted into. However Civil War like I said isn’t really an adaptation of the Civil War comic and if it is than it’s a very loose adaptations. Certain plot elements and moments are used or altered from the original story however the main drive for the events are drastically different. In the original comic, the war started because a television show of irresponsible teenage superheroes were being filmed and this accidentally lead to an entire school full of children dying in an explosion. In this film Crossbones works as a suicide bomber in Wakanda an attempt to kill Cap, however Scarlet Witch manages to contain him and the explosion in a telekinetic shield and dispose of him. The problem is that she’s not yet strong enough to contain the explosion for long and she ends up moving the explosion to a building full of innocent people. The King of Wakanda demands that the Avengers take responsibility for the death of his people and this leads to the Sokovia Accords being created. The scene where the bomb explodes by the building got to me when I saw Scarlet Witch’s reaction to the horror that she accidentally caused. Like Steve mentions a little later, it was his fault that the bomb went off in the first place but he turned into a whimpering puppy the second Bucky was mentioned. Although that still doesn’t change the fact that Scarlet Witch failed to safely dispose of the bomb and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.
The second noticeable change is the Superhuman Registration Act and the Sokovia Accords. Now the SRA was the law that you can be a superhero but secret identities are illegal. Now most superheroes within the MCU actually don’t have secret identities so the change in agreement makes sense. Here it’s literally that you must work for the government and not be a private superhero. Both can be controversial issues in a world with superheroes, but the specifics are a tad different.
Another thing pulled from the comics is the mother who lost her child. In the comics, Tony goes to a funeral and on his way out an enraged women spits in his face and yells at him about her dead son. Here it’s a lot more calm but it feels more personal as the woman really doesn’t yell at him (although she’s still upset) however she actually tells him how her son was on his way to a good career and bright future before dying in Sokovia during Age of Ultron. This also makes it more personal to Tony as he was the one who created Ultron in the first place. That guilt is a big reason for why he chose to make the decision he did.
Something else that paralleled the comic is the death of Goliath and War Machine being shot down. Now to be completely honest, I’m completely surprised that nobody died in this film as I was expecting either Cap to die like the comic or for War Machine to die like how the trailers was leading on. While neither died, War Machine was shot by Vision accidentally as Vision was aiming for Falcon and missed. This event just reminded me of Goliath’s death as it was the big scene in the middle if the story that lead more emotion for the story. Although I find it as a cop-out that Goliath just came out of there with paralyzed legs.
Now those are the biggest similarities I found between the film and the comic. For the most part anything else was a fairly minor nod. There is one moment I should mention where Iron Man shot a blast at Cap and he blocked it with his shield but otherwise I think I covered the biggest parallels.
The action in the film was amazing and the airport scene is better than any action sequence in a superhero film to date. Every character showed off their powers and skills in brilliantly choreographed fights. Spider-man and Ant-man were probably my two favorite to watch since we haven’t seen Spidey fight in the MCU until now and Ant-man became Giant-man in the airport fight scene. The only complaint I have for the entire airport battle is how slow Giant-man was. Why does being giant equates to being slow? Other than that, I feel like every character was accurately portrayed in terms of strength relative to their experience.
One thing I do want to complain about is the trailers. Two lines in the trailers that weren’t in the movie were “You just started a war!” and “I was wrong about you. We were all wrong about you.”. Now both were Iron Man’s lines and while the first one I’m fine with it’s absence since I found the line to be on the nose, the second line really choked me up in the trailer and I kept wondering when the line would show up but it never did.
Now before we move onto the characters let’s talk about the two sides of the argument. The fact that an action of the Avengers did lead to the death of tons of innocent people does show that some type of limitations should be placed in order. Granted Ultron was Tony’s fault, however it does show that people can have good intentions but poor actions. Heck, we saw Scarlet Witch accidentally kill a bunch of innocents at the beginning of the film! However if the The Winter Soldier taught us anything it’s that the government can be corrupt and placing a team of superpowered individuals in the hands of the government is almost as scary if not scarier than that same team remaining unchecked to do as they please. On top of that, if the government so chose they could tell the Avengers to turn a blind eye whenever they wanted and as Cap mentioned he just refuses to leave when people need him. So while I agree with both sides of the argument, I do have to lean towards Cap’s side since one of my favorite elements to the superhero genre is that people use the powers they posses to do what is right even when it’s illegal. Sometimes morality beats legality and you have to do what is right. Of course we have laws for a reason and it’s so people with looser morals don’t harm people but you see where I’m getting at. So I’m still Team Cap but not as strongly as I was post movie.
Now let’s get to the characters. The villain is Baron Zemo and he doesn’t inherit his costume from the comics but he plays more of a McGuffin than a character so I don’t really mind his lack of depth.
Now let’s get to the heroes starting with Cap since it is his movie. Cap’s relationship with Bucky is a huge driving force for his actions and considering that Bucky is pretty much his last friend from the 40’s it makes sense. This movie doesn’t just continue the story from Age of Ultron but also from that of The Winter Soldier and because of that everything built up from that movie. Cap’s refusal to let Bucky get captured is endearing and just shows how Cap refuses to turn a blind eye when he’s needed. It also makes sense that Cap would appose being part of the government as he does what he knows is right even when the government tells him otherwise. That’s ultimately one of my favorite elements to the concept of a superhero which is honestly why I fall with Cap in the end.
Iron Man has the opposite opinion on the matter considering that he believes superheroes should be placed in check. While I still side with Cap in the end, I do understand Tony’s opinions and they are valid arguments that should be addressed. On top of that, the guilt he felt over the Ultron fiasco is evident and I felt it strongly. Now I realize that when you’re a superhero and you’re fighting supervillains that realistically there will be casualties. However, that still doesn’t change how hard it must be to do your best to protect people and than learn that your actions caused the death of so many people. It’s kind of like how everybody dies at some point and we know this but that promise of mortality doesn’t really make the death of a close friend or family member any less painful. Now the final battle between Iron Man, Captain America, and Winter Soldier really struck the emotional cord for me. Now the idea that Bucky killed Tony’s parents I find rather dumb. Not quite “Joker killed Batman’s parents” dumb but still kinda dumb. However what shocked me most is when Tony asked Steve if he knew and he replied “yes”. Now I never really liked Tony since he was always kind of a jerk, but that just killed me to see in the end since I just wanted to yell at them to stop fighting each other.
I guess logically I should move onto Bucky. Like I said, Bucky killing Tony’s parents is a little dumb but considering that he was a brain washed assassin for Hydra it does make a bit of sense. I especially felt sorry for Bucky when he got mind controlled midway through the film and Cap and Falcon had to subdue him before he snapped out of it. Now I do wish he showed a tad more regret since his reaction when he realized what he did was more of a “sigh, not again” type of reaction but I still felt bad that he got framed for earlier in the film and now he was mind controlled to take down the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Speaking of Falcon, he was obviously team Cap since he’s probably Steve’s best friend besides Bucky. Now when I saw RedWing at the beginning of the film I was wondering if it was going to be RedWing before he revealed it. In the comics, Falcon has the ability to communicate with birds and RedWing is his special bird that he has a telepathic connection to. Here he uses a remote controlled robot that he uses. Outside that cool little thing, Falcon played really well alongside Cap and the way he uses his wings outside flight purposes were really creative.
Now I think I should bring up Black Panther. Now I actually know very little about Black Panther so I was interested to see what he’d be like in this movie. In the same explosion that framed Bucky, T’Challa’s father died and he blamed Bucky for his death. As a result, he took the mantle of Black Panther and went after Bucky. That’s the main reason he was on Iron Man’s side and that made a lot of sense within the context of the story as before the film I’ve been wondering why the heck the King of Wakanda would care about American politics. Turns out he cared less about the politics and more about that one guy who he believed killed his father. There is pretty much no scene that both Black Panther and Bucky is in where Black Panther isn’t trying to take down Bucky. As a fighter he seemed really strong and proved he was a force to be reckoned with. I also liked how he actually moved like a cat kinda like how Spider-man kinda moved like a spider (don’t worry folks, we’ll get to him eventually).
Let’s talk about Black Widow next. Now Black Widow’s stance in the movie seemed the least rigid as the right thing to do in her mind seemed to be the one that would cause the least amount of conflict. Of course that’s rather hard to do but her loyalty to Stark seemed somewhat flexible.
Scarlet Witch was amazing in this. I felt so sad for her when she blew up that building and that was a big deal to her too. Although I’ve already talked about that and this review is already really long so I’m trying to briefly touch on the other characters. However I do want to note that that scene where she drove Vision into the ground was amazing!
I guess that leads to Vision. Now I’m surprised at how unlikable this version of Vision is. I’ve always loved Vision since he’s been created for evil purposes but went against his programming to join the Avengers. Now that element was taken from him in Age of Ultron (unjustly so in my opinion) so that’s not this movie’s fault, however I just felt irritated when he kept Scarlet Witch under house arrest. Now I understand why he’s team Stark and it makes sense as he’s an android meaning that analytical data (such as death counts) must play a huge part in his decision, and the beginning of what seemed to be a nice romance between Scarlet Witch and Vision was just so adorable. While his care for Wanda did show in the airport battle where he got so distracted he shot down War Machine by accident, I still feel like it was a jerk move on his part to keep Wanda contained.
I would move on to discuss War Machine but I think I gave my opinions on him well enough when I brought up his parallel to Goliath’s death so I’ll move on.
Now Hawkeye’s retirement didn’t last long as he retired before this film but came back to aid Cap. Now I liked his reasoning too as he’s a rather proactive character and as such it make sense that he would fight against the Sokovia Accord rather than sitting on his @$$ and let the government take over. He also had that cute moment with Scarlet Witch and I find it funny how this is the second pep talk he gave her yet. I also appreciated how he came up with the plan to take down Vision early but once Vision broke free he really stood no chance. I mean in terms of strength within the MCU, vision is probably tied with Thor as being the second most powerful character right behind the Hulk.
Now Ant-Man was awesome in this and I found it cute when he fanboy-ed over Captain America. I’ve noticed a trend of bug-themed superheroes in this movie being fanboys over other superheros. Beyond that, I loved it when he turned into Giant-man but I didn’t like how slow he was during the battle.
And now the last character and the character you’ve all been waiting for: Spider-man. I absolutely loved Spider-man in this. Spidey used to be my favorite Marvel superhero and he’s still way up there but he and I kinda been on shaky grounds as of recently. But either way I think Tom Holland may be the best Spider-man in live action to date. I’ve always said that Toby Maquire made a butter Peter Parker than Andrew Garfield while the later made a much better Spider-man since he was just so much of a smart@$$. Here, Tom Holand captures both personas well and I loved it. He made for an awkward Peter Parker, he made a lot of comments as Spider-man, and his fight scenes were fun to watch! Now this is a very inexperienced Spider-man so I can except him not being the best fighter of the group since the Spider-man currently swinging around in the comics realistically could take on almost any of the characters featured here one-on-one and win. I also nerded out so hard when the end credit scene showed off his flash light. The second end credit scene is much better than the first one.
Also as a weird side note that I didn’t know where to put so I’m just going to put it here: Aunt May was weirdly cast.
Overall I stick to my opinion that this is the best Marvel movie yet. I loved the characters, the action was amazing, and I was emotionally invested all the way through. I definitely give it a 5/5 and everyone should go see it if they love the MCU at all. Now this is probably the longest review I ever made so I also want to so thank you if you actually read this whole thing. Also final side note: where the heck was Nick Fury throughout all of this?