Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War 3I’m a huge super-hero fan and one of my first introductions into actually reading comics was the Civil War event. The political stand-off and the idea that heroes could disagree and fight against each other in such a grand way, disagreeing over basic beliefs, was enticing to me. So, of course, I’m excited to see them try something similar in the MCU. Though, there is no way they can replicate the true scale of the crossover; I think that Captain America: Civil War has touched on something remarkable in the interaction of its heroes that makes this movie shine, even if the source material’s depth was hard to live up to.

The action in this movie was visceral and intense. The film allowed the heroes to use their powers and abilities to the fullest. Even from the start, we saw some awesome combo attacks and a wide range of new abilities and intense action scenes that are absolutely the best in the genre so far, and as the film progressed it only got better. In terms of action, if you were upset by the slow pace and low choreography of some other superhero films, this is definitely not an area where Civil War will disappoint.

Side by side with the action, the way the characters’ personalities play off each other is also an area where the film just clicks. In the addition of Spider-Man and the, oh-so-awkward, Scott Lang the amount of banter and pure fun from the character interactions is in top form. I can firmly say this is the most enjoyable viewing experience I’ve had in a long time. And speaking about characters, the new-comers are both welcome and vibrant editions to the MCU, sliding in sync with the style that the universe has been shaping throughout every phase.

Spider-man who many were speculative about being done right, given his frequent outings, was an immediate hit that even his fickle fan-base would be fools not to embrace. He is charming, awkward and a complete nerd. He’s in the movie more than I would’ve expected based on the previews and was a pleasant surprise in every scene he swung through. Without seeing an origin movie I can already confidently say that this is the definite version of the character in live-action form.

Civil War 2Black Panther was also introduced to the universe in this film and, unlike Spider-man, I wasn’t sure how he would feel. He is such a great and complex character in the comics, but in terms of general audiences this may be the first most people have even heard about him. I was glad to see many of the complexities of his character represented respectfully and think that they’ve done a great job giving him a personality and motivation of character all his own; Not to mention, he kicked ass. Black Panther’s arc throughout the film is more subtle than most of them, but ends up being very important in the tone and message coming across from the story.

However, in the tone and story aspects I think Civil War shies away from a deeper discussion on its themes of freedom vs security, that the Russo brothers honestly tackled better in The Winter Soldier. Through all the action, fun moments and great character interactions, you don’t feel a scale and weight to the consequences. I think adding a villain to this movie in Zemo curved the story away from the key debate of regulating people’s lives and there wasn’t a real enough threat of harm or sense of loss that comes from a conflict based on moral principles. This may be a side-effect of my expectations built from the source material or the innately different debate as the Sokovia Accords are not as broad as Regulation was in the initial comic; but, overall, the movie wasn’t as emotional as I was anticipating and that is a point of concern going forward. I’m sincerely hoping this isn’t a trend from Marvel of pulling their punches when it comes to their mass appeal films, but I’ll hold my breath on that speculation.

A few small things to note are the number of nods to the comic source materials that are artfully built into the story, such as the appearance of Falcon’s Redwing as a remote control drone, that iconic Cap against Iron Man pose and a direct quote from Captain America recycled from the comics into an unlikely place. I think this movie does a good job nodding to the comics and bringing a lot of fun and action-packed buddy fighting onto the screen. Even though I was mildly let down emotionally, I give Civil War a 8.5 out of 10 and definitely want to watch it again both to support good super-hero media and to see if my expectations might’ve affected my initial impressions of what was done on the screen.

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo: Director

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely: Screenplay

Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and so many more.: Stars

Jeremiah Trotter is an avid super hero nerd and appreciator of the adaptation. He believes in the power of catharsis and gets more attached to fictional characters than real people. His favorite things by category are: Favorite book series, Harry Potter; Favorite inspirational film,Children of Men; Favorite superhero film, The Dark Knight; Favorite cult film, Donnie Darko; Favorite comedy, Mean Girls; Favorite buddy cop film, Rush Hour; Favorite Netflix show, Jessica Jones; Favorite superhero, Spider-Man; Favorite fruit, Strawberries. 

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