“You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any another choice. But he’s my friend.”
Note: there are no spoilers in this review. I recommend not watching recent clips/promos/previews until you have seen this film.
Growing civilian casualties from epic superhero battles create unrest and new alliances/enemies in Captain America Civil War. Chris Evans headlines this 13th Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film as Captain America with MCU’s core character Iron Man, well played by Robert Downey Jr. Captain America Civil War also begins Phase Three of the MCU films.
Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross, played by William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk) returns as the newly appointed Secretary of State to impose/force rules on the Avengers due to growing collateral damage from victory at the expense of the innocent. Ross provides an authority figure who fills in for Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.
This rules are named Sokovia Accords backed by 117 countries to give a United Nations council authority to order/prevent the Avengers from taking action and regulate their activities. These Accords are named after the location where the biggest battle against the evil Ultron recently took place plus filmmakers keep continuity as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) do not appear.
Other past element from 1991 also comes into play as the heroic Avengers must adhere to outcries of vigilantism from enhanced individuals.
The plot produces conflict, but also comradery among characters as factions form from hero leads Captain America and Iron Man.
Cap holds strong to his admirable values amid some personal turmoil and an important romantic relationship development. Stark shows his angry/fierce side when he does not get his usual way while making some important character strides through some important follow-through and due diligence.
Strong relationships and past experiences determine some alliances/adversaries while other characters align on a side more organically as situations drive their choice not necessarily personal choice.
Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland), sentient android Vision (Paul Bettany), War Machine/James Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and the Winter Soldier/Bucky (Sebastian Stan) are the supporting characters.
New characters like Vision offer insightful perspectives to other characters like how “our strength invites challenge” as the embodied voice of Iron Man’s former computerized assistant Jarvis whom veteran audiences experienced in past MCU films. He also protects Wanda as their relationship grows amid worldly turmoil.
Boseman impresses physically and charismatically as Black Panther while Holland makes an equally strong turn as Spider-Man. The young Spidey’s abilities make up for his inexperience while the Black Panther wisely chooses his course of action.
Rudd has some great comic moments, which isn’t a big surprise given his background, and Mackie delivers some nice dead pan quips as well.
Bucky’s whereabouts and a recent development play well into the plot and provide a connection point for several characters who otherwise would continue their own worthy endeavors.
Rhodes and Hawkeye have loyal, dutiful motivations while filmmakers wisely utilize the strong, yet natural on screen chemistry between Johansson and lead Evans in their sixth on screen film together.
Some of these characters also develop their skills with new enhancements, gear and gadgets to expand their formidable skills. Past events and other revelations will surprise, shock and delight.
Other vital characters include Crossbones/Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), King T’Chaka (John Kani), Howard Stark (John Slattery), Maria Stark (Hope Davis), Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), Miriam (Alfre Woodard), Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) and the mysterious Zemo (Daniel Brühl).
Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) return to direct and Joe even makes a morbid cameo appearance. This directing team delivers immense action without compromising character development, which is a difficult task in this huge cast or prominent figures.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely also returned to write the screenplay. This duo has written all the Captain America films plus Thor 2: The Dark World.
The action sequences amaze though I really wanted filmmakers to include more wide lense shots, especially in sequence that involve multiple characters. Filming multiple characters requires accommodating multiple acting schedules, but the audiences would get more escapism with fewer limited character shots where groups could interact and gel more instead of framed placements where they’re like pieces on a game board.
The filmmaking team gives audiences an adequate sense of the Avengers’ new relative seclusion from society as the Accords are finalized. It’s always something grand when they do venture out though.
Filmmakers also continue with the storylines and ending credits sequences in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.
Filmmakers keep a PG-13 rating by not showing deaths and other awful things, but effectively portray the results. The toughest and most emotional sequence gives the film a visceral edge where audiences get a genuine sense of danger.
Audiences who have never seen any MCU film might be a little lost, but will certainly miss out on a richer experience because they won’t know all the references, plotlines, and character arcs.
The various worldwide settings ranging from Cleveland to Budapest reflect the high stakes and realistic context as the actual shooting locations include Iceland, Germany, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Atlanta Georgia.
Characters in this film even mention the eight years since the MCU beginning (2008’s Iron Man) to explain each piece, but this nicely saturated film will easily overwhelm novice audiences though they will certainly be entertained.
Fans get an overload of amenities here as this film comes on Marvel Comics’ Captain America’s 75th anniversary, Black Panther’s 50th anniversary and Civil War’s 10th anniversary. Great dialogue (I could do this all day), and even more comic references (Redwing, a memorable scene involving an arrow from The Avengers #224 and more).
A highly entertaining 146-minute film with solid cinematic action amid an appealing character myriad that comes with a high recommendation (***1/2). Stick around for the now standard bonus sequences during the ending credits.
Captain America Civil War is now showing in theaters in 3D and IMAX 3D.
Look for the next MCU film, Doctor Strange, on November 4 then 2017 with feature Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming co-starring Robert Downey Jr. on July 7 along with the next installments of Guardians of the Galaxy (May 5) and Thor (November 3). Black Panther will release on February 16, 2018 and the tentatively titled Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 will release on May 4, 2018.
Unfortunately Black Widow won’t get her own much deserved film soon…or even before Captain Marvel (coming March 8, 2019 just before the tentatively titled Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 on May 5), but the MCU will make room for her eventually.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler