For weeks now I have been stewing in the anger that Warner Brothers and DC Comics latest debacle, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice left me in. In a cinema landscape where the big studios feels oversaturated with comic book properties, a bad film, like that Zack Snyder misfire, does nothing to argue against that notion and only serves to drag down the opinion of other companies who are doing it right, like Marvel Studios. Warner and DC’s seeming disdain for their own characters seems to be out on the forefront while Marvel has a deep love and understanding of what makes all their, now, worldwide celebrated superheroes operate so well on the printed page and want to transition that to films that all audiences can appreciate. That may have been a jab at the R-rated cut of Dawn of Justice we’re being threatened with this summer. In summation, I really needed a comic palate cleanser.
The third Captain America film, Civil War, really acts as a culmination of many different threads laid throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not just things relevant to our title character himself. Yes, Joe and Anthony Russo could have just retitled the film as Avengers: Civil War but the main piece of our story revolves around the story that was started with The Winter Soldier installment, the reconnection between Steve Rogers and his estranged and formerly brainwashed best friend James “Bucky” Barnes. It’s a theme that is a consistent piece for every character, the developing, strengthening and breaking of the relationships of all involved. After this movie, more than even The Winter Soldier’s ramifications, everything in this world will be shifted beyond repair.
The film picks up with members of our new Avengers team, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, The Falcon and Black Widow, trying to thwart a weapons heist in Wakanda, headed up by Brock Rumlow, recovered from the events in the climax of Winter Soldier and set on revenge against the man who “dropped a building on his face”. The resolution at the end of the battle results in innocent civilians dying in an explosion, which immediately sets up our conflict. With the events that transpired in New York City, Washington, Sokovia and now Wakanda, the government is looking to register every super powered hero in hopes to formulate a bit of accountability on their part. This decidedly rubs Cap the wrong way.
This is obviously a story of taking sides as Tony Stark finds himself the conduit of General “Thunderbolt” Ross and the government, feeling some residual guilt from the entire Ultron attack, something he feels personally responsible for, with good reason. Steve Rogers sees this new initiative as a complete affront to everything he’s fought against and quickly becomes disillusioned with the direction his country is going in. His need to bring in his former best friend Bucky also ends up putting him on the wrong side of what Stark, Ross and company are trying to accomplish and end up turning Cap and whoever sides with him into fugitives.
There’s no non-grandiose way to say it, Civil War is a fanboy’s dream come true with Marvel Studios hitting everything in all the right places with all the right timing. We’ve got our origin stories out of the way and our characters are now ready to meet up and further this connective universe and, yes, that includes our Spider-Man/Peter Parker, who’s own origin gets brushed aside by Tony Stark saying “I don’t need to hear it”. Thanks Tony, that’s exactly how we feel. The best thing about Civil War is it is dealing with all the massive footprints they have left in the movies prior and instead of making many different tracks going forward, we have one wide path going forward. All of these stories are now together, including the introduction of the Black Panther, who we’ll see in his own film like Spider-Man. The only questions that remain of the outside universe comes from the absence of Thor and Hulk, and where exactly the Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange will fit into this going forward.
One simple thing, Zack Snyder may be contemplating self-harm over after seeing this movie is the complete coherence of both story and action. The plot of the film has flow; characters make decisions that gel with who they are and what they represent; you can actually tell what is going on in all of the fight sequences; and, for the most part, practical effects were used more often than not. I would have thought it would be a no brainer to have these sequences be as clear as you could get them, but after Batman v. Superman I will never take this for granted again.
As you can probably tell, I’m trying to keep my review to be as limited and, not just spoiler free, but plot informative light as I want this film to speak for itself. If you are already a fan of the MCU then this film is just going to double that as I think it’s the most cohesive film in the entire pantheon of films. Those on the side of disliking the Marvel films may actually even find themselves being swayed by the film as well with the lengthy run time as the only deterrent. Captain America: Civil War is the longest of the Marvel films, clocking in a close to two and a half hours, but for me, I could have taken another hour of this actual comic book coming to life in a glorious spectacle. I’m losing my mind a little bit on this one and giving it a self-justified perfect score of five out of five.