If nothing else, Captain America: Civil War is a testament to Marvel being incredibly consistent, so much so that it is defining the genre. What directors Joe and Anthony Russo do with the film isn’t particularly fresh but they manage to follow the blueprint and deliver a few “wow” moments that will keep the audience coming back for the next instalment.
Following the events of Age of Ultron and a botched mission that opens the movie, the United Nations decides it needs to impose limits on what the Avengers can and cannot do with the Sokovia Accords. This creates the divide that pits Captain America (Chris Evans) on one side fighting for the Avengers to remain an autonomous entity and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) on the other advocating in favour of government restriction. Each side then rallies their troops calling upon a number of heroes (old and new) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to their aid culminating in one fantastic all out brawl (more on that later) and one flimsy reveal that serves more as a push towards the finish line than an actual conclusion.
It becomes evident very early on that the Russo Brothers don’t have the same flair as Joss Whedon (The director of the two previous Avengers films) visually. Almost the entire movie is set to a single palate tonerather than the vibrant, diverse tones that were present in Whedon’s take on the franchise (It may have Captain America in the title but this is essentially an Avengers film). When you have such a diverse cast of characters that represent such a stark difference in individual tone (ie the more serious darker tones of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) vs the bright color scheme/tone of Spider-Man), it is important to find a balance to help create the image of a cohesive world while not sacrificing the distinct tones that make each character unique.
These issues are compounded by dialogue that mirrors Whedon’s quips and jokes but are lacking in quality exposition and defining of character motivations. For example, Tony Stark seemingly becomes a strong supporter of government interference after just one brief exchange with a victim of The Avengers (inadvertent) actions. It is here that credit has to be given to Marvel for their expansive world building – using previous films we can piece together the rationale behind the characters’ position, This helps for the characters we have become well acquainted with such as Iron Man or Captain America but for characters who haven’t gotten as much screen time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are left with largely unexplained reasons for why they chose the side they did.
While the clunkiness of the exposition and mass of characters to fit in make the film feel slightly bloated, there are some great minor moments hidden within the fluff though like Vision (Paul Bettany) trying to cook for the girl that he not so secretly admires that justify the extended run time. Though much of the focus remains on the Captain/ Bucky (Sebastian Stan) everyone gets a moment to shine instead of being background noise which is a nice touch for a movie with this much to tackle and serves to build excitement for future solo titles (the ultimate goal of these films).
No more is this evident than in the all out brawl between the sides. This scene alone is worth the price of admission and overcomes nitpicking at the film’s other aspects. The new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Rudd’s Ant-Man steal the show with their moves but everyone gets a good punch or projectile in highlighting the movie’s main strength from a film making perspective – the action scenes. It’s not peak John Woo or Matrix good but it does the job particularly in the hand to hand combat which is a little slower and methodical than the frantic energy beam fire fights. There is a small scene where Evans is pulling a helicopter that I appreciated simply because too many action movies particularly within this genre rely on rapid cutting rather than showing any exertion from the actors.
Because this film has no real third act (as has been the norm for Marvel) choosing instead to leave things hanging for the next film, there is no real sense of completion, the entire plot is revealed to be the work of yet another forgettable villain. In a small sense, you have to wonder how/when Marvel can give the audience the payoff they deserve after years of promising and teasing. However the train keeps rolling for the time being and while Civil War doesn’t push the needle as some expected, it provides intrigue for the next phase in Marvel’s master plan.
- Make no mistake Civil War blows Batman v Superman out of the water tackling similar concepts but doing so in much stronger fashion
- Marisa Tomei as Aunt May is such a perplexing casting choice.
- Spider-Man was very good in his scenes, whether he can carry his own movie remains to be seen but he is far better than Garfield
- The Russos pay homage to their television roots with a cameo from Dean Pelton from Community (Jim Rash) and the Bluth stair mobile (Arrested Development)
- Not a huge Ex Machina in this movie but I like how everyone just assumes Bucky did it even though in Winter Soldier they demonstrated face changing technology exists
- Ouch, Peggy Carter dies in the Cinematic Universe and on TV (canceled) in the same week… We’ll miss you, Peggy!
- Yet somehow Agents of SHIELD lives on
- Elizabeth Olsen’s accent is still spotty in this one, she should just drop it completely
- Black Widow literally switches sides for no reason (because Cap won’t stop?)
- Black Panther was okay…not really a scene stealer but he exists so… cool?
- Cyborgs have feelings too..it’s okay Vision, females are still a mystery to the best of men