NOTE: This review is spoiler free. But it may spoil some other MCU films that came before it. If you haven’t watch any Marvel movies leading up to this and are interested, please stop reading now, or just scroll down to the star-rating to see how I felt about it.
When Captain America throws his mighty shiiiiiiiield! Okay, I’ll stop that – hard to believe that cartoon’s 50 years old now (Okay, it was a motion comic…a really bad motion comic…some of the most primitive animation you’ll ever see. No wonder they went bankrupt). So lets talk about the 3rd movie of a trilogy that can only be described as a creative miracle…1 were Captain America is universally likeable, rather than just being Vanilla in the Marvel Avengers Ice Cream line (Is there 1? I’d like to know). This is Civil War, the 1st film in Phase 3 of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
Set approximately 1 year after the events of Avengers 2 (Age Of Ultron), our film more or less begins in Lagos, Nigeria – Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon and Scarlet Witch aim to stop Crossbones from stealing a biological weapon. After a hard battle, they win, but not without consequences. After this, the United Nations provide the Avengers with a new bill, called the Sokovia Accords (named after the town that was the final battle ground in Avengers 2), which is designed to create a government body that registers, monitors and polices superheroes, due to the rapidly growing population of them (and Inhumans, if you’ve been following Agents Of SHIELD), and the fact that some are not known to be friendly. It’s a regulator, if you will. The agreement and disagreement of the bill, ends up dividing the Avengers into 2 camps, we’ll call them Team Stark and Team Rogers – Team Stark believes that the bill is a good thing, and is based partly on Stark’s guilt over the loss of human life, as well as the fact that the agreeing Avengers like their job, and don’t want to be forced into retirement to avoid arrest. While Team Rogers sees it as something that could be corrupted easily, as the events in the Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (and Agents Of SHIELD season 1) left him cynical about the higher powers having that much control ever again. When the King of the fictitious African nation of Wakanda, T’Chaka, is killed by an explosion while in Vienna to discuss the bill, and security footage reveals that the bomber was Rogers’ friend Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier), all hell breaks loose, and both Stark and Rogers start building their own little armies – including some familiar faces, and some new ones, for their game of Hunter vs Hunted (Guess who’s the Hunter).
Now to break the film down into Ant Man-sized pieces.
The acting is on par with everything that the MCU has done already. The chemistry between all of the actors on screen has been absolutely wonderful to see, and a real pleasure. I particularly enjoyed Alan Rudd (Ant Man)’s interactions with everyone, and the film contains numerous, amusing scenes that show the humanity behind superheroes.
The characters in Civil War can be described like this: The original Avengers line-up, minus Thor and The Incredible Hulk, plus a friend turned villain turned friend again while still effectively being villain (Bucky), plus the sidekicks of our 2 main characters (War Machine & Falcon), plus the 2 new recruits from Avengers 2 (Vision and Scarlet Witch), plus the new guy who just had his own movie at the end of Phase 2, and has a mentor who hated the Starks (Ant Man), and lastly, 2 debuts – 1 in the form of King T-Chaka’s son T’Challa, who is the Black Panther (Think of him as the African Batman minus a cape), and seeking vengeance for the death of his father. The other 1…was 1 that nobody saw coming until it was actually revealed in a trailer…after many years of thinking it would never happen due to licensing issues, it finally happened – Spiderman has arrived in the MCU! This little equation gives you the heroes who appear in Civil War. Then we have the villains – Brock “Crossbones” Rumlow (The HYDRA Agent who was a Sleeper in SHIELD & fought Captain America in The Winter Soldier, this time he now has a mask), Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (Who makes his return after appearing in the Incredible Hulk movie, starring Ed Norton, back in 2008), and Helmut Zemo, who makes his debut in the film series. Some could argue how they’re going to squeeze so many characters into this film -and the answer is easy – You have your 3 main characters (Stark, Rogers and Bucky), your primary supporting roles are given to Falcon, Black Widow and Black panther, half of your other heroes appear in various secondary supporting roles and scenes to advance the long-term plot, and the other half only really appear for the big battle between all of them (the 1 at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, Germany, as seen in the pictures above and below) and a few scenes before and after it. The Villains played their roles well, even if they didn’t get too much screen time, as the focus is what it is – it’s a fight between the heroes, much more so than good vs evil (making it unlike every other Marvel movie before it). One thing I will say – Spiderman…this is the absolute, best version of Spiderman I have ever seen. He’s not a 27-32 year old playing a college student, who speaks and wise-cracks like a 27-32 year old guy anymore (Maguire was 27, 30 & 32, Garfield was 29 & 31 when they played Spidey). This time he’s played by a 19 year old kid named Tom Holland, with jokes, dialogue and delivery that would suit his age group, and his on-screen chemistry with Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark is nothing short of fantastic (I hope to see much more of them together in Spiderman: Homecoming next year). So what character development can be addressed in this film? Well, like I said, the emphasis is on Stark and Rogers, with slight origin stories to Black Panther and Spiderman. Much like Avengers 2, some characters are developed a little, but not by much, and the reason for this is because this is a big, long series, not a standalone movie or trilogy – so relax…This is just a chapter…now go watch those characters develop in other movies, because they’re awesome.
The story, while not as strong as some others in the MCU, managed to leave a number of loose ends tied up. The reason for the Civil War is pretty well justified, and you can completely understand, while at the same time, disagree with both Stark and Rogers in their point of view. It actually makes the audience choose to route for 1 or both. The build-up to this film was fun, in the sense that they asked you if you were supporting Team Stark or Team Rogers. Initially, I was going for Team Stark (out of fun, rather than actual choice). But after seeing the film, I didn’t know what to choose anymore. It’s an excellent transition film for all of the characters, and I look forward to more stories about them.
Humour-wise, Civil War is on par with the best of the MCU, and is up there with Winter Soldier, both Avengers movies, Ant Man and Iron Man 3 (the funniest Iron Man movie, in my opinion, though not the best). The humanity that these heroes experience from the most mundane of tasks, has become quite legendary now, with anything from a prepared meal for nostalgic purposes, to being crammed in the backseat of a car (Seriously, that has to be seen – it’s quite brilliant).
The Action scenes are incredible, and I know I might sound like a broken record when I type this…here it goes…They’re among the best in the MCU. Did anybody in particular steal the show? Well, the fights between Stark, Rogers and Bucky are obvious 1s, but out of the supporting Marvel Heroes, I would give the award to Ant Man and Spiderman, but particularly Ant Man for creativity – in my opinion, he stole the show at the Airport battle, with some truly mesmerising and fun scenes that had me laughing as hard as when Hulk took on Loki. Seriously, nobody predicted that Alan Rudd as Ant Man would be so much fun.
The editing is very quick and crisp, and every fight scene feels like it has an impact to it.
The music was done by Henry Jackson, who also did the music for CA2: The Winter Soldier, so there is a nice bit of continuity there. It all suited the movie really well, even if nothing particularly stood out for me.
The Special Effects were once again brilliant, with realistic looking explosions and debris. I also liked how they presented a young Tony Stark, using a very similar technique to how they presented a young Michael Douglas in Ant Man, and in the process, you would think they managed to pluck Robert Downey Jr from 1985 and bring him in for a brief time. Really well done all around.
The cinematography is what you would expect with a lot more shaky cam in some fight scenes, especially in Black Widow’s scenes. It also incorporates much of what was learned from earlier films, including the cinematic techniques that were used for Ant Man.
Would I recommend Captain America: Civil War? If you’re unfamiliar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I will say “What the hell are you doing? Go watch them, and then watch this!”, and if you have been following the MCU, I’ll say it now, this is a 1st Tier MCU film. It’s in that same category as Avengers 1, Avengers 2, Iron Man 1, Guardians Of The Galaxy & Captain America The Winter Soldier. In order words, it’s definitely 1 of the better MCU films, and is far from a disappointing watch. I saw it in IMAX, which is way better than 3D, even if it costs more, and would recommend watching it that way if the privilege is available. I loved watching practically every minute of this film, and while it’s not as good as at least 3 of those other 1st tier movies I mentioned, it’s still 1 of the best super hero movies I’ve ever seen, and lives up to the hype. Now bring on Doctor Strange!
Action Scenes: *****
Special Effects: ****3/4