Property review: Captain America: Civil War

Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2016

A civil war worth fighting

No, this isn’t the “Late Unpleas­ant­ness,” but Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War is a bit­ter bat­tle waged between broth­ers in arms. And it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at that bat­tle that has moral com­pli­ca­tions and impli­ca­tions for the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse at large.

Civil War starts out shortly after the end of the excel­lent Win­ter Sol­dier (editor’s note: Read our review of Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier in 4Q2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The tit­u­lar assas­sin is shown in a flash­back to a piv­otal event in an Avenger’s his­tory and is, in the present, on the loose after res­cu­ing Cap­tain Amer­ica from the murky depths of the Potomac River. Also, the Avengers have been bol­stered by the addi­tions of new recruits with a few losses in the lineup because of events in Age of Ultron. They’re on a mis­sion to stop Cross­bones (also new after the Win­ter Sol­dier) when every­thing planned goes hor­ri­bly awry. The after­math is swift: The Avengers are called on the car­pet and told to shape up, join the government’s ver­sion of over­sight or be hunted and thrown in jail with no fore­see­able release. Sides are cho­sen and the lines are drawn as to who is going to remain with no over­sight and who will work with the government’s reg­is­tra­tion act.

We have to acknowl­edge the pow­er­ful sec­ondary tale that springs up among the Win­ter Sol­dier, Cap­tain Amer­ica and Iron Man. The civil war really comes down to the lay­ered con­flict between Cap and Iron Man. This is what’s really dri­ving the over­all arch­ing fight between teams, but on a per­sonal level, these two friends are hurt­ing on dif­fer­ent lev­els because of each other. Tony can’t under­stand why Cap doesn’t get the need for over­sight and he feels jeal­ous because of the rela­tion­ship between Cap and the Win­ter Sol­dier. Not to men­tion, a plot twist late in the game brings the lat­ter rela­tion­ship to the fore­front and is essen­tially the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Tony. Cap can’t under­stand why Tony doesn’t want to oper­ate as is, given that Tony is a past weapons man­u­fac­turer and oper­ates well with­out some­one stand­ing over his shoul­der and the fol­lies that were S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra. Civil War’s excel­lent and tight writ­ing basi­cally boils down a con­flict between best friends whose visions have grown apart.

Despite Civil War being one of the longer films in the MCU, it never feels like it. The pac­ing is excel­lent from the begin­ning to end, and you’re drawn into the action quickly and effi­ciently, which there’s plenty of. The flow of story to action is great, the humor is deftly weaved in with a lot of inside jokes and nods to past events and easter eggs, and it’s the per­fect mix to keep you inter­ested in what’s going to hap­pen next. The fight scenes alone are worth watch­ing just to see the chore­og­ra­phy and styl­ish nuance found in recre­at­ing the ensemble’s var­i­ous super pow­ers and abil­i­ties. Every fight scene — from the brawl at gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters, to the chase at the Win­ter Soldier’s apart­ment and the giant brawl at the air­port — is worth watch­ing repeatedly.

Char­ac­ter devel­op­ment is also han­dled extremely well. New super­heroes are intro­duced and older char­ac­ters are fur­ther devel­oped, which makes the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion easy and nat­ural and their inter­ac­tion believ­able. You grow to care about the new char­ac­ters, which is rel­a­tively hard to do with a large ensem­ble such as Civil War. You also get a sense that you would imme­di­ately know what each Avenger would decide to do because you already know these char­ac­ters, and the ones you don’t know, you learn who they are and why they make their per­sonal choices.

There are sev­eral addi­tions to the cast that make Civil War stand out. The first is Black Pan­ther, who becomes an Avenger at a later point in the comics. Here, the character’s intro­duc­tion was han­dled so well that we’re eagerly await­ing the announced spin­off film for him. The sec­ond is Spider-Man. Yes, the web crawler’s recent film out­ings have been done to death, but it’s his intro­duc­tion here that is nicely done. It serves two pur­poses: to finally bring him home to the Mar­vel brand once again and set him up cor­rectly within the MCU.

The story, by itself, is an inter­est­ing tale of free­dom and choices. We under­stood why both sides chose their posi­tions in the Civil War, and we could eas­ily empathize with both sides. While the comic ver­sion of this story is sim­i­lar in forc­ing a stance on issues related to free­dom and respon­si­bil­ity, the change made to the inci­dent that causes the con­flict between super­heroes in the film is a wel­come one and more relatable.

Where the MCU goes from here is debat­able because of the many angles that can be taken in Infin­ity War, but it’s a going to be a great ride thanks to the fan­tas­tic build up in pre­vi­ous films such as Civil War.

Like the comics?: 6
Cast­ing: 10
Sto­ry­line: 10

Score: 26/30 or 8.6

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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