Captain America: Civil War. 2016. Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo. Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, & Alfre Woodard. Marvel Studios/Vita-Ray Dutch Productions/Studio Babelsberg.
Rated PG. 147 minutes.
Not being the biggest Marvel fan, it’s always interesting to sit down and watch one of their movies. I’m never expecting to be blown away, nor do I go in wanting to hate them either. Each movie holds its own power. I used to only like Thor, but steadily I’ve found myself drawn into the Captain America movies. What Civil War does effectively is take a massive cast of characters, dip them into a boisterous plot, and then keep us interested in all of them. Whereas certain films with too many characters can get bogged down this one never seems to lose its step, not once. From the opening minutes to the closing credits, Anthony and Joe Russo are able to root us in the intensity of the action and take us through a wild ride, never letting us get far from all the excitement.
Civil War was an excellent story in the comics. I remember reading it for the first time and being floored. Too bad not all of the original bits made it into the film, partially due to the rights of different characters being spread out over different companies (such as the X-Men characters). Still, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely once again craft their writing to a sharp point, giving us all the chaotic madness we expect from a superhero movie, but also allowing us character development and frustration when hero is pitted against hero in a time when they all should be sticking together. That’s what makes things so fun and interesting to watch.Of course a large part of Civil War is the relationship between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). They work well together, as actors. What I love is that Tony grew up hearing all about his father’s relationship to perfect Cap, now they’re in the mix together, living amongst the 21st century. So there’s a jealousy in Tony, that Cap got to spend those glory days with his father while he was stuck in the later years. Further than they they’ve got the whole Sokovia Accords deal, which puts a larger divide between the two men, each with their own ideas about what should or should not happen, how they ought to proceed forward in light of what’s happening. The writing of this conflict, the characters themselves, it’s better than the average character relationships and development in other superhero movies. Again, this keeps in tradition with Winter Soldier, which really got into the political aspects of the characters and plots surrounding Captain America. Now we’re seeing more of that. Without getting ‘dark and gritty’ as the DC films seem intent on getting, Marvel is taking the superhero stories onto a more serious plane of existence where saving the world becomes more than just some plot for a Saturday morning adventure. Civil War serves to put more characters on that course, not just Cap and Black Widow and Bucky, but now Iron Man, Black Panther, and many others.
There are too many enjoyable performances to talk about individually, from newcomers to the universe such as Daniel Brühl to Chris Evans and other actors who’ve been in the superhero game awhile. What I dig most is that the writing pushes to encompass both action and character. We get these in equal doses.
One of the best fights and chases in any of these Marvel movies comes when The Winter Soldier and Cap barrel through an apartment building, SWAT team all over them. There’s this great shot where Bucky jumps down from a flight by holding onto the railing, hauling it off its foundation; an awesome, brief moment. That whole sequence is incredible, taking us from one apartment building to the top of another, big jumps across the street stories up, a nice introductory fight for Black Panther in his rad suit (one of the coolest looking costumes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Everything in these few minutes is top notch.
All the fights are beyond amazing. Each actor gives their all to make it feel real instead of choreographed, and telegraphed, moves coming from people with not much training. The acting is one thing. The physical nature of the roles is another. Another scene I thought was gnarly is when Cap pulls the helicopter back in towards the building – not just the muscles flexing and Evans giving it every he has, the wildly intense seconds afterwards where the plan rolls into the building and the blades come close to chopping Rogers in half had my jaw dropping. A real good scene to raise the heart rate. These action pieces only get bigger, more broad, and better executed as time goes on.
This is one of the best superhero flicks out there so far. A 4 and 1/2 star bit of action cinema. It is tight, filled with characters and yet not sagged down by trying to jam too much into their plots – love Tom Holland as the new Spidey, as usual Sebastian Stan is killer in his role as Bucky-cum-Winter Soldier, Chadwick Boseman is a revelation in his new Marvel performance (and surely to be just as good in the further movies to come for his Black Panther). All kinds of character development happens here, in the right way. We don’t feel overexposed to the exposition, even with a ton of dialogue throughout. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers each become more human with this movie. The performances of all the actors make for a better experience.
When editing, writing, acting, and directing come together, there is no limit to what Marvel can accomplish.
All these opinions come from a guy who isn’t even a self-professed Marvel fan, nor am I massively interested in many superhero movies that come out generally. But the good ones, they can’t be denied. I don’t care what genre, what type of movie it is, what kind of characters; if it’s good, it is good. And Civil War has the goodness – no, the greatness – in spades. I can’t pretend this is anything less than awesome. The action is all worth it, let alone any of the rest.