“Captain America Civil War was the greatest superhero movie of all time” That’s a phrase I hear getting thrown around quite a lot. Was it? Honestly to sum it up, yes. It was everything I ever wanted to see in a superhero movie. Anyone who likes superheroes at all went to see this movie. Why was it good though? One word. Patience. Marvel took their time setting up all of the characters in this movie, and the story flowed so naturally. I thought DC Comics was going to learn somewhat from Marvel’s success, but they didn’t (See my review of Batman v. Superman) and their movie suffered. It all started eight years ago for Marvel though.
Eight years ago, when Iron Man came out, it took a little while for critics (and even me) to warm up to it. I didn’t think it was going to be terrible or anything, I just refused to see it. Once I actually sat down and watched it, I didn’t know how to feel. I actually liked it. But, I didn’t like it for the reasons I thought I would. The movie set up Iron Man’s character perfectly. By the end of the movie, especially when he announces he’s Iron Man at the end, I had a complete sense of who Tony Stark was. I understood what kind of person he was and what motivated him. Nothing was cloudy in terms of plot, and the action of course was nice. As the MCU started coming together, these movies established who these characters were. The plot came next, then the action followed. A lot of movies, especially these Hollywood blockbusters only focus on action. The plot is mediocre at best and the character development is almost non-existent. With Marvel, you always felt like they were on the verge of something bigger. Every scene was important. Us comic nerds got all of the Easter Egg hints, but the average fan was paced along at a slower rate. It was done beautifully.
SOME UPS AND DOWNS
Now it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the MCU. They put out a couple of cliché’ Hollywood movies before Civil War. Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Avengers 2 to me were the most lackluster movies in the MCU. Iron Man 3 was mainly made to convey the struggles Iron Man was going through after Avengers. Thor 2 was kind of the same, but it was made to set up more of the future. Avengers 2 felt like a lackluster comic book event that everyone was waiting for. The trailers for Avengers 2 made Ultron look invincible. When the movie came out, he was one of the most boring and confusing villains I remember seeing in any movie. Overall though, none of these movies were absolutely horrid. They just didn’t hit the same spots that the other ones did.
So I rambled a bit about the MCU. I just think it’s important to understand how Civil War came to be, and why it to me, is the greatest superhero movie to date.
This movie just makes sense. The story starts us off in 1991 Russia and literally instantly, I feel like I’m watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier. My doubts of the directors failing to make this feel like a Captain America movie were completely thrown out the window. I hated myself for doubting them again. The only thing that bugged me a bit is in the beginning of the movie, Cap is with his team in Lagos, Nigeria. At the end of Avengers 2, Vision and War Machine are on Cap’s new Avengers squad. I didn’t understand why War Machine and Vision weren’t in Lagos. They are two extremely powerful heroes that could have stopped the situation that happened Lagos. The only thing I could think of is they left them off because everyone already knew Vision and War Machine were team Iron Man. It just would have been nice to see them there and to see them witness the accident. Their stance against Cap would have felt more real. To me it felt like War Machine was just playing soldier. Instantly, he’s talking to Cap like he has no respect for him. That was a bit weird. Despite all of that, the movie makes sense. As we get deeper into the movie, Iron Man’s character shows itself early. We’ve seen in Iron Man and Iron Man 3, that Tony Stark has a conscious. Sometimes he listens to it too much. The mother talking to him about her son dying in Sokovia put him over the edge. And that makes sense. It’s almost safe to say that he hasn’t completely gotten over the fact the terrorists were using his weapons in the first movie. He dang sure hadn’t gotten over Ultron just yet. So this mother lecturing him, was just the icing on the cake. When they all have their meeting after the accident in Lagos, Cap’s character that was established in previous movies shines through. The man lived through the rise of Hitler. When he says the line “But it’s still controlled by people with agendas,” referring to the United Nations panel for the Avengers, he says it with flare. He knows how one man with an agenda can affect the whole world. It scares him to death to imagine what a room full of people with agendas can do. It’s the main reason he’s avoided situations like this before. Falcon shares Cap’s ideals so obviously he sides with Cap. War Machine appeals to Tony so he takes sides there. It makes total sense why Vision would side with Iron Man. He drops an equation on the team that fits his character completely. Widow is undecided but that comes in later in the movie. Overall, the setup for this plot made complete sense. I was settled in at this point. I wanted to see action now.
Oh, Hello T’Challa!
As the United Nations gather to sign the Sokovia Accords (the piece of legislation that will force the Avengers to be legal) we are introduced to Black Panther. It makes total sense that his father is heading up this project. The Avengers were active in Africa recently, not to mention Iron Man and Hulk tore through the heart of a Wakandian city in Avengers 2. So it feels organic to have them here at this signing. In a flash, a bomb goes off, killing T’Challa’s father. They gave us a short scene right before his death. It’s referenced that Black Panther doesn’t like doing diplomatic missions. It appeared that the only reason he was even there, was to support his father. When his father dies, the anguish Black Panther shows on screen is palpable. What happens next caused me to sit up straight up in my seat. It’s revealed that the person the media thinks did the bombing at the UN was Bucky Barnes. I was like oh snap! It completely muddies the water on Cap’s allegiance now. If Bucky did it, which he didn’t, then why would Cap protect this guy? Even if he didn’t the government doesn’t care. They wanted Bucky’s head. Black Panther did too. It made the Black Panther come to life as he said the line, “I will kill him myself,” and walked off like a boss.
The scene where Cap and Bucky are fighting the SWAT team soldiers in the stairwell of the apartment, was probably my favorite. Bucky’s strength was showcased (that arm is insane) and Cap’s shield was used effectively. As they go onto the roof, Black Panther comes out of nowhere. I yelped like a little girl when I first saw him. The car chase scene after he appeared was magical.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Boy (Man)
As the movie progresses, we start to see that Cap isn’t going to stop defending his boy Bucky. Tony Stark is told to apprehend his friend before the government has to intervene. Tony then heads to Queens to recruit Spider-Man. The scene is funny, as expected, and establishes the awkwardness that is this new Peter Parker. They throw in a clip of Spidey stopping a moving car by himself. I love that, because average movie goers refuse to believe Spider-Man has elite level strength (he stopped a moving train in Spider-Man 2 for goodness sake!) The directors threw him in at the perfect time of the movie. As I talked about in my Suicide Squad trailer review, Spidey doesn’t need anyone in a movie to be entertaining. He can carry his own franchise by himself easily. Falcon or Scarlet Witch? Probably not. (Although I was wanting a Falcon and Bucky buddy movie after this. Or at least a comic. They were hilarious together.) Spidey is in the movie long enough to make a lasting impact on fans, but he’s gone soon after to shift the focus back on Cap and Iron Man. The same goes for Ant-Man. Watching him go Giant Man in the fight was awesome. It looked clean, and his reactions were priceless. Ant-Man is sort of like a more mature Spider-Man, but a nicer Deadpool. He’s harsh and doesn’t mind being a criminal, but he ultimately does what he thinks is right. Black Panther’s skills were showcased in the fight as well. His character was continued when Hawkeye tried to be cute and introduce himself. Black Panther replied, “I don’t care,” and continued kicking butt. This scene was amazing and I could explain it for days, but the directors did a great job finding a moment for everyone in this segment. Whether it was Widow zapping Ant-Man like a bug, or Falcon using Redwing to hit Iron Man, everybody had a solid moment here.
Story Over Everything Else
I talked earlier about action, plot, and character development. The action in Civil War was obviously a no-brainer, the character development has been a staple of the MCU, the plot is where the movie shines and ties everything together. Baron Zemo was introduced early in the movie. He is shown hunting down a former member of hydra trying to get information from him. We later find out that his family was killed in Sokovia during Avengers 2. He took it upon himself to exact his revenge. He’s the one who frames Bucky which forces the government to go after him, and later on go after Cap. Later, we find out from Bucky, that there are five other soldiers just like him. Zemo goes to the base in Russia that we see at the beginning of the movie. This part of the movie feels like Captain America 2 again. By the end of this sequence, we learn Zemo’s true intentions. He plays a video of Bucky killing Tony Stark’s parents. This sets Tony off enough to try kill Bucky. Of course, Cap defends his best friend, and we see an epic fight. Tony blows off Bucky’s arm, and eventually Cap wins the fight, choosing to leave Iron Man there instead of killing him. The story behind the fight makes it that more thought provoking. It goes deeper than a simple hashtag for Iron Man or Cap. Zemo turned them against each other. Black Panther coming in at the end realizing Zemo played him for a fool was a beautiful scene as well. He realizes that vengeance almost caused him to take an innocent man’s life. Black Panther vows to never let that happen again, and now we’ll see that growth in his movie in 2018. By the end of the fight, I was satisfied with how everything ended. When the Dark Knight came out, I thought (and still think) the action in that movie was mediocre. The story though, trumped everything. Heath Ledger’s Joker and Christian Bale’s Batman told such a riveting tale of good vs. evil and reality vs. perception. Story trumps all. Even without a solid story, Civil War could have skated by with over the top action and by relying on their amazing characters. Marvel went the extra mile and added Baron Zemo. He fit the Captain America mold beautifully, and he fit the Avengers villain mold as well.
The one thing I noticed from this movie about the story is the similarities between Civil War and Batman v. Superman. I didn’t go into depth about the plot of Batman v. Superman (mainly because the character development had me ready to walk out the room) but Lex Luthor kind of plays the Baron Zemo role as well. It was his diabolical plan to get these two “gods” two kill each other and they realized it at the end when they had to fight Doomsday. It seems as though DC may have gotten the inside scoop on Civil War’s plot and they tried to make it better, since they knew they came out first. So when Civil War came out, people would like Batman v. Superman more. That’s just me going too deep into things, because Batman v. Superman had more problems than just their plot. Still, I thought it was a bit odd they mirrored each other in that way.
This movie is sensational. It combines all of the action we’ve come to love from the MCU, along with deep character development. The directors did a wonderful job juggling these characters. Disaster could have happened at every turn of this movie, but Marvel put their best people on it, and the end product was Civil War. If you like comic book movies, go see it. If you like action, go see it. If you like political thrillers, go see it. The only people who shouldn’t go see this movie are people who think The Rock could beat up Cap. Seriously though, your money won’t be wasted at all on this movie. Marvel cares about their fans and it’s evident in their product. They want us to care about Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, Natasha Romanov, Peter Parker, and T’Challa first. Then once we understand who they are, Captain America, Iron Man, Falcon, The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Spider-Man, and Black Panther become so transparent, that they become so much more than people in tights trying to save people.
If you enjoyed this review, please follow me on Twitter @Hero_Review for all the latest news and updates on my future reviews. Until next time!