This review contains spoilers for Captain America Civil War
I will start this review off by saying, for those who were worried about the exit of Joss Whedon from the Avengers films, I am very happy to say the fate of the two remaining Avengers films is in good hands with the Russo Brothers (Jo and Anthony Russo). If you have seen Captain America Winter Soldier, then you got a taste of what was coming in this new film. Captain America Winter Soldier was a great film, which showed off the brothers talent for delivering some very excellent action scenes and well, I will say, the Russo brothers just topped it (and every other Marvel film, possibly including Avengers) with Captain America Civil War. This very well could be the best superhero film of them all. Captain America Civil War is epic, dramatic, humorous, and truly delivers superhero action that fans will just love.
The movie pretty much starts things off with a bang. Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his team Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) are trying stop Crossbones and his goons from stealing a biological weapon. The scene delivers plenty of superhero action, and my instant feeling was that it all reminded me of (dare I say it) the Jason Bourne action scenes. The action is hard hitting, fast and extremely enjoyable. It is the up close hand to hand combat that really draws you in. For example, The Black Widow is just amazing here. Her fights are almost always up close as she hits, kicks, flips and wraps around her foes in incredible fashion. It is even more incredible when you remind yourself that this girl has no super powers. Captain America is also in the heart of the action in hard hitting fashion, going blow to blow with Crossbones, but his shield is a true highlight as it rebounds around the battle area like a pinball knocking goons out left and right. It is truly awesome to see this comic book action come to life. The Russo Brothers really delivered in this opening battle. Unfortunately there is a ramification of the battle, with Scarlet Witch accidentally killing innocent people in a nearby building. The expression on Elizabeth Olsen’s face after it happens is harrowing, leaving you feeling for the innocent lives that were just lost as well as the enormous weight of grief that’s just been dropped on her shoulders. It is this event, which leads to the government creating the Sokovia Accords.
The Sokovia Accords were established by the United Nations to control when superhuman beings, such as the Avengers, intervene. The Avengers must now decide to be controlled by the United Nations or risk going outside the law and become criminals. It is this decision that causes a rift between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Tony Stark, is literally struck in the heart by a mother who approaches him over the death of one young promising child in Sokovia. This and events preceding this, such as his creation of Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron), which also led to the deaths of innocents, makes this offer too impossible for Tony to ignore and is all in for the new government act. The baggage he is carrying from the loss of innocent lives and the choice he must make is written all over his face. Then there is Steve Rogers, who has always been one to go outside the boundaries and not fully trust the powers that be, such as with Shield in Captain America Winter Soldier. He had to work outside the system, and has seen what happened to his friend Bucky (Winter Soldier). So his decision to not have to rely on the government to tell them what to do and when to do it makes sense. The government is quick to see the Winter Soldier as guilty, but Cap finds it worth proving that Bucky is innocent despite how bad the situation is. Neither hero is right in their decision, which makes the conflict even more exciting. One can argue Captain America is acting selfishly on his fight to prove an old friends innocence. Enough so to put other lives in danger. Tony Stark is letting his guilt of creating Ultron and being a part of the loss of lives make the decision for him. These are heroes with real issues at hand which helps keeps the audience connected and care for their friendship and choices they must make.
THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
T’Challa, aka The Black Panther is introduced into the superhero extravaganza as his father is killed in an explosion, and he blames the Winter Soldier. Chadwick Boseman was a fabulous choice for Black Panther. He came off very charismatic and we can really feel his fight for vengeance. Whether it be from his experience as a hero or his royal bloodline, there is a confidence about this hero from Wakanda that makes it seem nothing is going to stand in his way. He is a great contrast to the lightheartedness of some of the other heroes. By the end of the film, I really wanted to learn more about his character and can’t wait for the Black Panther film.
Then there is the hero that some of you may have heard of, and goes by the name of Spider-Man. He finally makes his appearance with the big boys of Marvel and Tom Holland, along with the screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, just nail the character perfectly. From the moment you see him, it’s definitely that geeky, smart, chatterbox from Queens, Peter Parker. It may have seemed like Spider-Man could have been a late addition to the film, as it is a fairly quick introduction, but it works. Especially as more of his character and highlights would come in the big superhero battle, which I’ll go into more below.
THE BIG BATTLE
The battle between these heroes could very well be the best superhero action sequence out there. It is amazing! There really is no other way to put this. Now, I don’t just mean amazing as in the special effects, which are awesome, but the drama, the banter, the humor it all just clicks. I did not want this to end. Kudos to the Russo brothers for delivering a battle that is action packed and fun! To finally see Spider-man in a battle with the Avengers was thrilling. He is a kid who does a whole lot talking, just like in the books, provides comic relief, and fun swinging action. The key word being, fun. Paul Rudd is also back as the hero Ant-Man and does not skip a beat from his solo outing in providing many laughs, as well as a special surprise I did not see coming. I will also say, what also makes this a favorite action sequence is the inclusion of Ant-Man hopping a ride on “arrow guy” Hawkeye’s arrow tip to get into Iron Man’s armor. A call back to a favorite comic book cover and also a very clever way to try and bring ol’ Shellhead down. A very geeky moment for me. The superheroes are all over the place. Scarlet Witch helps Hawkeye, who is pulling his punches against Black Widow, Falcon and Winter Soldier are dealing with a crazy fun swinging wall crawler, but then, Captain America is dealing with Spider-Man, Vision is onto Scarlet Witch. It goes round and round and it is a blast! Yet all in all, this is a battle between friends having a big argument and settling it with their big toys. Which eventually leads to someone getting hurt, and we are reminded of how frightening their powers can be. In this case the victim ends up being War Machine.
ZEMO THE VICTOR
This eventually sets up an emotional final battle between friends, where secrets lead to vengeance, and may lead to a deeper rift in the team that could change them forever. All this thanks to Helmut Zemo, a villain who is a great strategist but driven off emotion, as he is one who had lost family in Sokovia during the Avengers battle with Ultron and took it upon himself to rip this team apart from the inside. Something in which he pretty much succeeded in doing. Emotional villainy at its finest.
There is absolutely no way I can touch on everything but wanted to at least quickly touch on some characters and moments that I have yet to mention. Scarlet Witch is used much more effectively this time around. She’s working closer with the team, still working on her powers, but by taking down the Vision, she shows she can actually be one of the more powerful members on the team. Speaking of Vision, there is still not a lot of development with him other than, it seems he is developing a sense of emotion as he has taking a liking to Scarlet Witch (as in the comics). Enough so, that it is his feelings for her that causes him to surprisingly make a mistake in battle. Heck, he even cooks for her! I was hoping they would not go this route in the films but will see how far it goes. The Falcon and Winter Soldier are Caps closest friends and it is a thrill to see them supporting Steve and hanging together with a few laugh out loud comedic moments, especially in a VW Bug. One last thing, the whole action sequence when Captain America comes to warn Bucky and eventually leading to a fight in a stairwell scene is breathtakingly nuts! From Captain America covering a grenade with his shield to heroes dropping from floor to floor on the stairs, it is creative and jaw dropping. Loved every second.
Overall this is an excellent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in the genre of superhero films (Sorry Batman v Superman, but this is superheroes done right. You have homework to do). The movie is near flawless, as I really have to get picky to find any cons. From the fighting, the characters, and their conflict at hand, the Russo Brothers finds a way for a superhero film to be explosively entertaining yet also to keep things grounded. Even the humor is inserted perfectly to where it does not disrupt the flow of the film. I really did not want this movie to end as it is truly enjoyable from top to bottom. I cannot wait to watch it again and again and again. Yes, the next two Avengers films are in good hands people. All hail the Russo brothers!