Going into Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, most of the free world already knew they would be following some semblance of the storyline laid out in Marvel Civil War comic book miniseries (2006). Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Civil War pits Captain America (Chris Evans), the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Ant Man (Paul Rudd) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) against Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) coming out of retirement and the much-anticipated arrival of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) rounding out the respective teams.
In terms of scope, it occurs on a much smaller level cinematically relative to the scale illustrated in the comic book. There was a multitude of participants in the illustrated pages, but in the film there are only about a dozen.
But to point that out as taking away from the overall enjoyment of the film would be nitpicking. Here's a brief synopsis: a mission in Lagos, Nigeria to stop Crossbones results in an explosion that kills several Wakandan relief workers.
Secretary of State Thaddeus “Thunderbolt" Ross, father of Betty Ross and all-time Hulk hater, demands that the Avengers come under the guidance of a United Nations panel. For Tony Stark, memories of creating Ultron and the deaths in Sokovia, coupled with the deaths during the Battle of New York (Avengers #1) remain. Although he was not there when the accident occurs, the realization that the Avengers were present when each of the aforementioned catastrophes occur swings Tony Stark to side with the idea of leashing the team.
But Captain America is immediately suspicious of any kind of government oversight. Black Widow tries to convince Cap go to along with the Sokovia Accords, but she is rebuffed. She decides to attend the Sokovia Accords ratification in Vienna when a bomb explodes, killing Wakandan King T’Chaka, father of T’Challa. Security footage from the attack appears to show the bomber as the Winter Soldier. This is where things really get fun.
Chadwick Boseman, introduced as T’Challa prior to the attack, is brilliant in his seething and immediately plans to avenge his father. I was concerned that it would take more than a Faux-African accent to pull off a character of such substance and nobility. Boseman, known for 42 and Get on Up, had this way of articulating his lines in which the only discernible hint as to the force of said words is the matter in which he twisted his mouth to enunciate them. Cool, never overly emotional and seemingly one step ahead of everybody else in nearly all of his scenes. Great job.
Meanwhile, Captain America and Sam Wilson aka the Falcon are still hot on the trail of Bucky Barnes and have tracked him to Bucharest to whisk him away from the police, and the Black Panther, which is in direct conflict with the Sokovia Accords. His refusal to stand down on the Barnes situation brings him into direct conflict with Stark and company.
Cap, Winter Soldier, T’Challa, and Wilson are all captured after by the Avengers faction loyal to the Sokovia Accords and are transported to a holding facility called the Raft. This where the movie really picks up, so I’ll not continue any further with the spoilers and let y’all see for yourselves.
Captain America: Civil War is the third of a series starring everyone’s favorite star-spangled Avenger. So, you kind of knew that Cap’ was going to come out of this on top somehow. Though it is largely the same formula that has been used in other Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings, Civil War is better written and slightly darker, with moments of levity that are natural and not scripted in appearance.
The fight scenes in many of the prior MCU offerings had become just a little stale. After seeing Iron Man swoop in and carpet bomb opponents, or Captain America karate-kick a bad guy in the esophagus, it kind of becomes blasé.
But Civil War not only provides some unique new fight choreography for the regulars we’ve come to know since Avengers four years ago, the newer characters’ abilities are manifested in some really unique ways. (Example: Scarlet Witch levitates cars to crush Iron Man. There’s another scene in which she causes the Vision to become super dense resulting in him crashing through several floors of a building and become lodged, albeit briefly, underground.) The Vision is depicted as being virtually unstoppable. Without Thor or Hulk making appearances, he is easily the most powerful character in the movie.
The introduction of Spider-Man appeared to be kind of shoe-horned into the movie, as there was no indication of a Peter Parker in this universe prior to Tony Stark just showing up on his doorstep. Holland, for his part, played an excellent Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
A big problem I have had with past cinematic renditions of Spider-Man is the dialogue and the fighting style, but both of those seemed to be peeves for the Russo Brothers, as Spidey’s banter seemed to be a point of emphasis. His fight scene with Captain America is everything, though I did roll my eyes at how Cap ate some of Spidey’s punches with seemingly very little effect. There was a moment where Steve Rogers actually out Spider-Man-ed Spider-Man with an acrobatic move that saw him counter Spidey’s webs. No way these things occur in the comic book!
Comic book heads know what I’m talking about.
Two fast-paced and opposing narratives are being meshed together throughout the film, with a surprise catalyst for Tony Stark that is introduced right when you think the two sides have come to some kind of agreement near the end.
All and all, Captain America: Civil War is a fitting addition to the Captain America trilogy. The Shadow League gives it a solid A. This is a very fun movie.