By: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast) –
If there’s one thing we can always count on with superhero movies, it’s a shitload of collateral damage at the end of the movie where the good guys save a lot of lives at a cost of a lot of other lives. 13 movies later, the Governments of the world have decided to speak up.
It took the collateral damage resulting from Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) taking down Crossbones for the UN to send out Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) to suggest that the Avengers sign an agreement that would put them under the control of the UN, to be dispatched at the council’s discretion, to limit the collateral damage. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), feeling guilty after a woman informs her that her son was killed during the events of Age of Ultron, thinks that it’s a good idea. Cap disagrees, and feels that there will always be a cost to saving lives.
Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), just recently recovered from being a killing machine in Winter Soldier, is in danger from relapsing as Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) seeks to reactivate him.
As tensions between Steve and Tony continue to escalate, the rest of the Avengers start to take sides as well. A whole bunch of people get hit really hard.
You can’t make a movie like this, and make it well, without good setup. And while Civil War leapfrogs most noticeably off of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, it still resonates with the momentum of the handful of other movies these characters have had up to now to develop their characters, and it’s part of the reason why, with possibly the most characters of any MCU film so far, everyone gets enough screentime and nothing feels rushed.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely once again deliver a script that is stripped of most of the fat. There’s hardly filler here at all, and it even goes the extra mile in terms of development. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) gets a mostly-complete arc and even though he hasn’t had his solo movie yet, he’s already established as a strong character. In one five-minute conversation between Tony Stark and Peter Parker (Tom Holland), an entire film’s worth of Spider-Man origin discussion is covered, which means that the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming can breeze past the origin story that has been told so many times that kids come out of the womb knowing about it.
Most importantly, the conflict presented here doesn’t suggest that either side is easier to root for. Cap and Iron Man both have very compelling reasons to argue their point, and none of it feels hackneyed or forced. There’s not really a right answer, and no one character is an antagonist. Best of all, the finale is set up and executed in a way that is refreshingly unconventional for a summer superhero blockbuster.
Winter Soldier was triumphant in part because it took a comic book film and made it not only a politically-charged thriller, but also a full-tilt action picture with sensational fight sequences that hit so hard you could almost feel it. Civil War sees the return of the Russo brothers as directors and likewise another shot of that visceral violence. And yes, that airport fight sequence is every tiny bit as awesome as you’ve been hearing.
All of this is done in the midst of a comic book film that is absolutely jam-packed with money shots and fan service- not since the first Avengers has there been a flick that feels this in-tune with its fanbase.
Captain America: Civil War is a terrific summer action flick and a soundly satisfying superhero picture. It has enough of the whiz-bang we’ve come to expect from the MCU, but gives itself time to address some surprisingly mature and thoughtful themes, in ways that you wouldn’t expect in an action movie, let alone a comic book film. The series is really growing up and while it could easily build momentum just on the strength of Robert Downey Jr’s impeccable facial hair, Chris Evans’ impossible biceps, and Scarlett Johansson’s literally everything, there is an honest, genuine investment in the characters here that shows that Marvel really wants to weave an interesting, compelling universe that we can all care about.
It succeeds at all of this because it is confident. The film irresistibly invites comparisons to the similarly-themed hero-against-hero Batman v Superman, but while Zach Snyder’s dour epic felt rushed, clumsy, and completely unsure of itself, Civil War has the benefit of a dozen movies to establish these characters and their motivations and giving a great buildup to what ends up, as a result, an eventful storyline. Marvel knows exactly what it’s doing here, and that confidence shows.
Captain America: Civil War (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every piece of fan service.
Do a Shot: every time you think a hero is about to die.
Take a Drink: for every faceless minion that probably definitely was killed by one of the heroes.
Do a Shot: whenever someone starts arguing.