A House Divided
Reviewed by Mason Manuel
Good ol’ Cap is back and better than ever. As is Iron Man… and Vision, and Ant Man, and so on and so on. Captain America might get a bit overshadowed in his own film, but Civil War takes the underlying clashing ideologies of each character and fleshes them out to great depth, resulting in smart resolution or entertaining conflict. The Russo Brothers, high off of their Winter Soilder fame, come back to direct yet another one of Marvel’s best films to date, with awesome action, relatable characters, and a surprisingly large amount of heart. If not for a somewhat sloppy third act Captain America: Civil War would be damn near perfect, but there is still plenty to love in this latest adventure.
Captain Steve Rogers is desperately hoping to find his friend Bucky after the incident that occurred during The Winter Soldier. During a standard operation Cap and his new team of Avengers (including Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon), an accident occurs which puts the heroes in a negative/dangerous light. The world becomes frightened of what could happen should the heroes go rogue, and so the United Nations takes action. The governments demand that the Avengers sign a document releasing their unchecked power to the U.S. Government so that the elected officials can say when and where the Avengers can act. Rogers disagrees with this, saying that answering to politicians with agendas could put more people in jeopardy and that their power remains better off in their own hands. In a surprising twist Robert Downey Jr.’s billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, Tony Stark/Iron Man is all for the new limitations. In fact, he believes in it so devoutly, that he is willing to take down other members of the team to enforce the new laws. This causes a predictably deep rift between the two, whose relationship had never been smooth sailing. The two lead their own teams of Avengers, leading to a head on clash to show what superheros truly stand for.
Do not let the title fool you, Civil War is not a Captain America film. It rather feels like Avengers 2.5. Oddly enough, it feels better off because of it. I’m all for seeing Cap kick ass and take names but this film is less about the man and more about the team that he and Iron Man created. Each hero gets their own time to shine in the spotlight both in action and in peace, and each viewpoint brings interesting perspectives on how dangerous unchecked power can be. Every actor brings their A-game, especially the winter soldier himself played by Sebastian Stan and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Both characters go through dynamic transformations that I did not see coming despite being an avid comic/comic movie fan, and I was pleased to see that these super people could still be regular people. Another welcome surprise is the film’s antagonist Baron Zimo (Daniel Bruhl). Marvel has a nasty reputation of lackluster villains that are mainly just evil copies of the heroes, but Zimo is not super in any way. Rather he is a regular guy with a point to prove and valid motivations for wanting to do so. He really is the best villain since Loki and the Marvelverse will be better off keeping him around.
The Russo Brothers know how to make an awesome action scene and Civil War boasts some of their best work ever. The titular fight scene showcased in trailers that takes place at an airport is straight up nerd porn, that pays true respect to every hero in their own right. Everyone gets a moment to shine and both teams of Avengers feel equally matched. New to the teams is Black Panther and everyone’s favorite web slinger Spider-Man. These new players are awesome and fit right in with the rest of the crew. Unfortunately, much like the Quicksilver scene from Fox’s Xmen: Days of Future Past, they don’t feel terribly important. They are fun and bring the pain when it counts, but if you were to remove them from the film, nothing would have really changed. That being said, I look forward to seeing them in future films.
By the third act, the rift between former friends is so deep you would think that there is no way that they could logically come back together and… it seems like that’s what the screenwriters felt too. Without spoiling too much, the ending moments of Civil War are downright tragic , and feel like they would leave a larger impact on the characters that it does. Chris Evans does his best to convey his mixed feelings toward situations his character is thrust into, but ultimately falls short of Downey Jr.’s gravitas. Throw in a rushed, and frankly gross love plot and the Captain turns out to be the weakest character in his own film.
Captain America: Civil War is a fantastic film, setting a new bar for the comic movie genre. Awesome action scenes paired with highly emotional human elements create something so much more than just an adaptation of a comic writer’s story. Whether you are Team Cap or Team Iron Man, there will plenty to love for both sides. RDR gives it an 8.6 out of 10.