Captain America: Civil War

'Captain America - Civil War' movie poster

Release: Friday, May 6, 2016


Written by: Christopher Markus; Stephen McFeely

Directed by: Anthony & Joe Russo

Standing in a line of about 200 rabid fans an hour before the screening I was asked by a woman in line — a hot mom actually — if this was the line for the Avengers movie. I really wanted to tell her, “No, this is for Captain America,” but who am I kidding, this is totally an Avengers movie. And so I was like, “Yeah,” and she was like, “Cool,” and then we both just went back to our lives.

That Captain America: Civil War is closer in spirit to one of those ultra-blockbusters is actually good news for me as I’ve never really stood behind Captain America. The Boy Scout/super-soldier kind of ruffles my feathers for some reason, and that’s through no fault of Chris Evans either. Nevertheless there I was, middle of a mob on a Saturday afternoon, the manufactured product of a month-long brainwashing program designed to win my allegiance toward either Team Steve or Team Tony.

Civil War is a film whose emotional upshot takes an eternity to eventuate, but when it does it’s actually well worth the two-and-a-half-hour sit. Steve and his embattled friend Bucky, a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are at the heart of a complex moral, emotional and psychological battle that divides the Avengers — all but Hulk and Thor, of course, who are off galavanting elsewhere — straight down the middle when they are asked to sign the Sokovia Accords, a peacekeeping effort drawn up by the United Nations in response to the concerns of a growing population that thinks the Avengers are doing more harm than good.

After yet another disaster, this time in Wakanda at the hands of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, who has completely given up on trying to sound Russian at this point), in steps Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) to give everyone a choice: either agree to the sanctions, to be potentially overruled in any given situation if it is deemed necessary . . . or retire from the superhero biz.

And then everyone seems to get really mad. Needless to say, the stakes are high this time, higher than they were when Loki was trying to divide and conquer from within all those movies ago, if you can believe it . . . (wasn’t it pretty much doomsday then, too?) One side argues for their continued autonomy while the other, surprisingly spearheaded by a guilt-ridden Tony, believes having a watchdog might help prevent future awkward encounters with any living relatives of people he has inadvertently killed.

Thanks to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, two writers keen to redress familiar characters under this new guise of bitterness, distrust and uncertainty, there are equally compelling reasons to join either camp. In fact as Civil War progresses it gets ever more entrenched in the complexities of this ideological conflict. The appearance of a cold German militant named Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), the one behind an earlier attack on the UN that claims the life of Wakanda King T’Chaka, father of T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), inspires Steve to ignore new-age protocol as he attempts to stop Zemo from unleashing a secret arsenal of other Winter Soldiers being kept in cryogenic stasis at a Hydra facility in Siberia.

Civil War, like Tony and Steve, has a lot on its plate, but it wisely (and creatively) spreads the workload across its many players. Even if Downey Jr. takes this opportunity to effect a more somber version of his character than we’re used to seeing, that famous acerbic wit is never lost with the integration of Scott Lang/Ant Man (Paul Rudd) and Tom Holland’s amazingly acne-free Peter Parker/Spider Man. Black Panther digs his claws in with menacing presence and a lot of righteous anger. Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye returns as do Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Paul Bettany as the visionary . . . Vision.

Even though giving each their time to shine means taking some away from Evans, extended interactions between less famous figures are more than welcome and give these individuals purpose within the context of the cinematic retelling of their own journeys. Bettany is perhaps the highlight, his loyalty to protecting the lone Maximoff twin from destruction following her actions in Wakanda offering a miniaturized version of the conundrum facing Iron Man and Captain America. And then there’s Black Panther’s determination to take out the one responsible for his father’s death.

For all of the potential devastation that is implied Civil War isn’t a dour affair. It doesn’t dwell in misery, and it really could have. There’s a melancholy vibe here, but the Russo brothers seem comfortable conforming to Marvel’s standard of finding levity amidst dire circumstances, injecting humor into scenes that would otherwise trend DC-dark. (God forbid that ever happen.) A movie with ‘war’ in its title going the comedy route is a risky proposition, and though this isn’t devoid moments of weakness, the continued expansion of a world parallel to ours allows them to pass quickly. There’s so much going on that Civil War all but demands repeat viewings. Eight years into the game, that’s a very good thing for the MCU.

I wonder what the hot mom thought about all of it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 1.03.32 AM

Recommendation: With the slightly-famous actors as comfortable as ever in their respective roles, Civil War benefits from the intersection of emotionally resonant performance and thoughtful, crafty storytelling. People like me — non-Captain fans — benefit greatly from the distraction of the other people around him fighting for what they believe is right for the future of the Avengers. A solid realization of a very complicated time, and the balance struck herein makes it one of my favorites of the entire MCU canon thus far.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 146 mins.

Quoted: “Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking, or fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose, I’m open to suggestion.” 

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42 thoughts on “Captain America: Civil War

    • Never apologize for who you are Jordan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No but seriously don’t feel pressured to like anything because it’s popular. Like it because it’s good. And I’ve been liking a few of these bigger pics because they do offer something more than just silly hero antics. This one was a great example of good superhero movies. But they’re not everyone’s bag so that’s always something to consider 🙂


      • hehe yeah I know, I’m only being half-serious I guess, but still, it feels somewhat alienating to see EVERYONE love this movie! Ahhh well


  1. The emotional depth of the script pushes the story into a compelling episode. I was thankful for Ant-Man and Spider-Man because they provide some levity to balance out the “dour affair”. Sorry, it was a bit gloomy at times, but Robert Downey Jr. And Chris Evans deserves credit for anchoring the whole drama with their compelling performances. I enjoyed this very much and a nice return to form after Age of Ultron.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a big surprise for me. I have very little interest in Captain America. Don’t know why but he’s always struck me as a bland character. But surrounded with circumstances like this I couldn’t help but feel for him. That’s how good this was, on a personal level, for me.


  2. xD I love how you were all meh about seeing this, and then had a total blast! Great work Tom! I see what worked for you is where it fell short for me – Captain America is my favourite Avenger – something I NEVER thought would happen, but it did. Great review 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know yo!!! We basically went the opposite ways on this one! Haha! I totally, totally see how we did though because Steve Rogers *almost* feels like a passenger in this film, at least if you’re measuring the amount of screen time. But there’s no denying that his relationship with Bucky Barnes is at the heart of this story, and then when it comes down to the fundamental disagreement btw the Avengers, Captain is right in the thick of it too. I think his purpose is much grander in this film than simply just showing up on screen. I don’t know if that makes any sense but that’s how I saw it.

      But the biggest thing for me, I just loved all the interactions with new characters and old. Made this a very fun watch.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Super write-up Tom. It’s admirable, given the sheer volume of faces, that the writers manage to give everybody some time to shine and, you’re right, doing so helps de-clutter the narrative. Marvel have this tone nailed on now — it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with Doctor Strange this November.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers Adam, this was a film I had very few expectations for as, over time, I’ve gradually become less enthusiastic about these films. I’m not at a point where I have ZERO interest in seeing something, of course (maybe that’ll be the case for things like Black Panther’s stand-alone film, but we’ll see — I don’t think that’ll be the case for Doctor Strange, as Benedict Cumberbatch himself will get me in a seat), but Captain America was never something I got into. So it pleases and surprised me greatly that I came out of this elated. This was a very, very good movie and has a good chance of remaining on my end-of-year Best Of list.

        No problem for the link man. Happy to do it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Avengers: Civil War? Might as well be.

    Really, I think Cap is the best character they have, and his movies, in my opinion, have been holding pretty steady (and I was meh on the first), even possibly exceeding their predecessors.

    After the disappointing AoU, and to some extent BvS (different movie studios but similar setups) this was needed as it pertains to large scale superhero movies. Major kudos to how well they gave solid spotlight to each character. Eager to watch again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As am I. Never thought I’d be saying that about a freakin’ Captain America movie. Seriously, this Boy Scout do-gooder annoys the crap out of me. I can’t explain it. He just gets on my nerves. But here was an example where I actually bought into his ideology. He didn’t seem like some Lost Boy shouting into the wind all his moral code that he wanted everyone else to have but very obviously wouldn’t adapt because they all live in the real world and not some serene, ideal snapshot of the 1940s. Captain America had legitimate concerns here, as did Iron Man and it made for a very interesting watch on several levels. I didn’t want to give this such a high rating but had no other choice. Marvel batted one out of the park here

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not looking forward to this film at all. I couldn’t stand the Winter Soldier and, in my opinion, Marvel movies have gone downhill. I’ll probably download this in a few months and watch it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty much in complete disagreement with Marvel going down hill but I have to say I was never a captain America fan. I thought WS was alright, but nothing too special. I really enjoyed this though, even as skeptical as I was going in. Hope you get something out of it when you choose to see it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It sticks to the tried and tested formula, but it’s still one of my favourites from this long, long, long series too. I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah agreed on all counts there my friend. This was a nice surprise for me, as my allegiances don’t really lie on Cap’n’s side. But this was the best non-Avengers movie I think I’ve seen so far.


  7. Pingback: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | digitalshortbread

    • You’re too kind Natasha. 🙂 Yeah this was a very fun outing for me too. I was surprised by how hard it was to pick a side, and that in the end you almost have no choice but to pick sides.


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