Hey, folks. So yeah, we’re deep into what would be the Golden age of comic based films. Eight years back, Marvel, Disney (and Paramount for a time) partnered up to create their cinematic universe and many good films have fleshed out this world through various Phases. One film that resonated with the filmgoers was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which saw co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo follow-up Captain America: The First Avenger as well as The Avengers by placing the Star-Spangled Hero in an action-filled political suspense thriller. Many threads were left dangling by that movie’s end, and only touched on to a small degree in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We come now to the newest Captain America movie, Civil War, in which The Russo Brothers have Cap (Chris Evans) leading the Avengers into Nigeria after a group of mercenaries led by newly costumed villain Crossbones (Frank Grillo), a former SHIELD / Hydra agent last seen fighting The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) at the end of the Winter Soldier movie. Cap’s current roster includes The Falcon, The Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). However, the mission doesn’t go as smoothly as planned.
This leads to a meeting with Secretary of State Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt, last seen in “The Incredible Hulk”), who brings with him Avengers co-founder Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to announce that over 170 nations are looking to ratify a resolution called The Sokovia Accords, for which the team will have to accept U.S. government oversight & mission directives, and only go into countries with permission. Recent incidents in New York, Washington DC, Sokovia, and other places have a guilt-ridden Tony agreeing with this course, feeling that his role as Iron Man hasn’t been enough to save everyone. The others mull it over, with Steve Rogers feeling that as world citizen Captain America, he should have more of a choice in when to intervene in matters.
I’m going to stop priming the plot right here because typing any more really would be spoiler-ish and kill the suspense of what takes place. A lot of craziness ensues after the scenes I just typed here and the amazing story that unfolds really should be experienced instead of read. Many things that were touched upon in the previous Cap and Avengers films are woven excellently into this screenplay. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll likely already know that we get to see the Marvel cinematic universe debuts for Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) as well as prominent appearances by The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). You’re also likely to know they mix in with the other characters to form teams on opposite sides led by Cap and Iron Man. The ways they figure into the story though are part of the fun of this movie.
Chadwick Bozeman is an excellent projection of force, focus, and wisdom as the Black Panther’s alter ego T’Challa the prince of Wakanda. His inner strength exudes all the elements perfectly as we come to understand his character and what potential effect he’ll have on the events to come. Tom Holland though gives one portrayal long-time fans of Spider-Man have been wanting to see. The (first two) Sam Raimi movies were pretty good and had Tobey McGuire show Peter Parker as a dorky kid effectively but not Spidey’s humor while fighting. Andrew Garfield showed Spider-man’s heroics but depicted Peter as a cool guy skater with a James Dean vibe trying to be dorky and somewhat vulnerable in… well, not-so-great stories. So when we get to Holland’s depiction…. it is in a word, perfect. He’s a nerdy kid who does wisecracks as the web-slinger with incredible athleticism and expressive eyeshields to match. I’m really wanting to see both these characters in their stand-alone films and expect great results when they come out.
Back to the overall film in question, Civil War takes great pains to explore the strength of character and what really should happen when people disagree on things and they may or may not necessarily have the correct reaction. Some of the best team-focused comics liked Justice League and X-Men and the like develop those themes effectively. Throughout all the MCU films’ events, the Avengers have become close as both friends and teammates to varying degrees… a dynamic this film seeks to change. Throughout the well-paced screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely during which we get some excellent fight sequences, it’s particularly compelling to see what happens to Tony and Steve’s relationship as the film progresses in the quieter moments and we remember everything that has happened in other movies to this point. Civil War reminds us these people are complex folks trying to do good the best way they know how and it can take an emotional toll on them. The script allows the whole cast to do well in bringing their ranges on screen.
This is why Captain America: Civil War is now my favorite MCU movie to date. I truly can’t imagine how these characters will function from this film forward with forces seen and hidden still to impact their lives. If I were to rank favorite films to this point, I think my top 5 would break down in this order – Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy. With all due respects to the works of Jon Favreau, James Gunn and Joss Whedon, I have to say Marvel overseer Kevin Feige really struck gold when he recruited The Russo brothers and cannot wait to see how other directors will pan out as well as what these guys will bring on the road to The Infinity War.
Bottom line: This movie is good…. and it will hurt.