Written by J.T. Johnson
Pay attention, Warner Bros. and DC! Marvel is back to once again show you how to make a proper superhero film. “Captain America: Civil War” is a busy, bang for your buck thrill ride that never lets you forget the character drama and manages to successfully juggle about a dozen different superheroes at the same time.
The characters’ motives are real. By the end, the movie leaves audiences thinking about real questions regarding genuine freedom and the need for someone to watch over these superpowered characters. It also leaves friendships destroyed and sets the MCU on an uncertain course as they head towards “Avengers: Infinity War”.
The movie begins with Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans) leading the Avengers on a mission that ends in the deaths of several innocent people. Meanwhile, retired Avenger Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is still feeling the guilt after he created Ultron. His guilt is even worse after a mother who lost her son in Sokovia tells Stark that he is to blame.
Finally, over a hundred countries around the world have agreed to sign the Sokovia Accords, new laws that will allow a governing body to regulate and control the Avengers. Tony agrees to the terms due to the Battle of Sokovia while Steve refuses to sign the Accords. After the committee where the Accords are to be signed is bombed, it appears as though it was the work of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Captain America soon finds himself on the wrong side of the law in order to prove his friend’s innocence.
The sides are pretty much chosen here and the greatest thing this film has going for it is that each side has a valid argument to make. One doesn’t feel forced in just to make two characters disagree. Iron Man has seen the grave errors made by the Avengers and thinks they need to be in check somehow or they’re no better than the bad guys they face.
Captain America, on the other hand, does not believe that an agency with an agenda is to be trusted. This is understandable considering that he had to take down S.H.I.E.L.D. due to the infiltration of Hydra. He also points out that there could be a great threat in the world, but the government could restrict them from being able to act.
It is all great storytelling and this may be the most mature Marvel film yet. It deals with real themes and it also propels the story going forward for future Marvel movies. One of the characters makes a reference to “The Empire Strikes Back” and that is what this movie could be classified as since it definitely leaves our heroes in a darker place by the end.
That is not to say that the movie skimps on the action. The airport scene that has been promoted in the trailers is a sight to behold and there are several moments where comic book fans will scream in excitement. There is also plenty of humor here as well, especially from Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, a character that finally gets the full Marvel treatment.
Two characters are introduced to the MCU in this movie. We get to see not only Spider-Man, but the Black Panther in all his glory as well. The good news is that they are already transformed superheroes. No retreading the Uncle Ben storyline here. Finally, both characters do more in the movie than I thought they would, yet their appearances also heightened my expectations for their upcoming solo films.
A movie finally showcasing Ant-Man, Spider-Man and Black Panther also finally shows me how the MCU can successfully continue on once the original Avengers are ready to hang it up. Black Panther was the perfect badass and I was particularly impressed with Holland as Spider-Man and think that Marvel finally gave us the most faithful adaptation of the beloved comic book character.
Unsurprisingly, there is a villain behind the scenes, this time in the form of Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brül), a man who wants to get back at the Avengers for one of their past missions. Brül and the writers give us a far more tragic villain and one of the better villains to appear in an MCU film.
By the end, the Russo Brothers and writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFreely have provided audiences with just as much thought-provoking content as well as the great action we’ve come to expect from the MCU. Like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” before it, “Civil War” has changed the name of the game and Phase Three is off to a fantastic start!