Bob Marley was quoted one day saying that “Your worst enemy could be your best friend, and your best friend your worst enemy.” The recent events of the Avengers are going to test that quote to the fullest. Anytime the Avengers protect and serve, they also seem to bring unintended, but significant, collateral damage. First in New York, then with the total collapse of the city in Sokovia, and now the situation in Nigeria that leads to multiple deaths of innocents. Many in the world now do not see the Avengers as superheroes, but vigilantes.
The powers that be determine that these superheroes need to be held accountable via the Sokavia Accords, a document that basically gives power to the government to ascertain when and where the Avengers should be deployed. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a proponent of the Accords, still feeling responsibility for many of the incidents. Joining him on his side is Vision (Paul Bettany), Rhody/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).
Aligning with Captain America Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) on the side of freedom is Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Scott Lang/Ant Man (Paul Rudd). The two viewpoints make a showdown all but a certainty. However, growing underneath the tension is an unforeseen threat, one who wants to make The Avengers pay for their past actions.
As soon as Captain America: Civil War was announced back in late 2013 and everyone knew what the Civil War would consist of, everything that came before it has really been leading up to this film. And that is for bad and good. Bad, because in a way, other films that would normally be huge events on their own (i.e Avengers: Age of Ultron) kind of lacked the memorability and importance such a film should command. However, it is good because CA:CW is, more or less, what Age of Ultron should have been: Important, memorable, and extremely entertaining. And the build-up throughout that time is a big reason.
The latest entry to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe makes no concessions to those who haven’t followed along over the years. But with the box office returns being so high, most know all about these characters, so why should it? As stated, Marvel has been building to this moment for a while now, especially in the interactions between Stark and Rogers, and as such, it makes it much more easier to fall into the story and buy everything the writers tell us. Compare this to, say, Batman V Superman (it’s just too convenient not to!), where characters, their relationships and plot threads are thrown into one movie instead of allowing them to be gradually introduced to us.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s second superhero feature following The Winter Soldier is written about as well as one could generally hope, especially with the amount of characters making appearances. It isn’t all perfect. There are a few lulls, one in particular being right after the highest point of the movie. This definitely feels a full 136 minutes during the end. The main villain, even with sound motivation and a good performance by the talented Daniel Brühl, suffers simply because he isn’t all that interesting. It would have been nice to see more of Frank Grillo’s Crossbones, but at least he owns it while he’s on the screen.
But, the lack of a compelling traditional villain isn’t felt as much in Civil War because the true opposition comes from within, obviously from the opposing viewpoints that Captain America and Iron Man support. It’s important to note that neither one, no matter what “team” you may be on, is all that vilified, though Iron Man has always been a guy who possessed heelish tendencies and as such, feels slightly like the bad guy. Both men have good reasons for carrying the ideologies they carry, and a cool extra layer exists under what side they support. Personality-wise, Rogers is as orderly and straight-laced as heroes come, compared to the brash and free-wheeling Stark. So, the fact that Captain America refuses the order and the government and Iron Man readily accepts it despite what their personalities would suggest is something yours truly found intriguing.
With 12 notable characters on the screen, one would think that some characters would naturally get the shaft. While some shine brighter than others, all have their moments, not just in action, but in non-physical interplay with one another, like Vision and Scarlet Witch (dropped accent and all), or Falcon and War Machine to name a few. Sometimes the interplay is emotional, sometimes it is funny, but in all cases, it adds to the characters, which in turn adds to the action.
Once again, though this time assisted by John Wick directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the Russo brothers film action as practical as they possibly can. A little shaky in a few spots, but overall it’s about on par with their work from Winter Soldier. Much like the first Avengers, which has the scene everyone remembers with the panning of our new superhero team, this one has that similar moment as well, setting up an action sequence that could stand as the best of the year when all is said and done.
Captain America: Civil War achieves where Age of Ultron didn’t. It’s as big but more focused. It’s more emotionally satisfying. There are actual changes that should carry sizable ramifications. And above all, it’s more fun. If every movie in Phase 3 will be this good, in the words of Captain America, “I can do this all day.”
Photo credits go to collider.com, comicbook.com, and forbes.com.
Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson
Reading all this positive feedback has me thinking about seeing this. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but from what I’ve read this seems to be better than the ones I have seen, which isn’t many. I hope it is better than Deadpool!
I liked Deadpool! But, I think this has more rewatchability. I think Cap is Marvel’s best character right now.
Yeah I’m really on the outside on this one. Well not this one, all of these sorta movies really. I went to see this one (having seen the last Cap movie) and was kinda just watching it with my head cocked, resting on my hand. Can’t say I was enthralled. Surprisingly, to me at least, I -LOVED- Spiderman.
With all the personalities, Civil War feels more like a third Avengers movie, besting Age of Ultron (2015) for emotional depth, but lacking the breezy joy of The Avengers (2012). Lots to recommend though. Ant-Man and Spider-Man got the best lines.
I loved that line in your piece. To me, I wasn’t bothered by the lack of breeziness in CW that is found in The Avengers. I feel that is a one time thing that can never be replicated.
Love that you say it feels important, memorable, and extremely entertaining. It is precisely that. Same goes for it being as big as Age of Ultron, but more focused. They really pulled it off with this one. Great review!
Thanks Wendell! I’ve gotta read your thoughts today.
Wonderful review. Loved this movie and liked it far more than Avengers 2. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
I’m excited again for Infinity War, and even Dr. Strange. Cap is their best character, imo.
Oh good catch on Scarlett Witch dropping her accent. I didn’t pick up on that, maybe because I haven’t bothered to rewatch Age of Ulton lol. I totally agree that Civil War is the movie I wished Age of Ultron should have been ie. memorable. Great review!
I thought Captain America and Iron Man were the least compelling characters. I’m totally tired of them and it’s the same thing all the time. I liked Spiderman, Ant-man, and Black Panther much much more.
I think Spidey was a bit overhyped, but the truest adaptation we are likely to see. Ant-man brought the comedy and thrills, Black Panther the darkness (whoa!) and slickness.
I liked Iron Man here the most since IM1. He’s always been a little bit of a arrogant prick, but still with heart. I was meh on Cap after the 1st movie, but he’s really grown on me. For a character so white meat in his ideology, to me personally, his story of re acclimating to current day has been, dare I say, fascinating.