Hot Take: Ambitious, smart and pure entertainment. You have to marvel at the organic way this many stories are weaved together. Amazing!
Step back for a minute and think about everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe was trying to accomplish with Captain America: Civil War. First and foremost, it applies the loose outline of the Civil War comic miniseries from ’06 and ’07 to the MCU but since secret identities do not exist in the MCU, a new angle must be introduced. Second, there are a number of existing characters from the Iron Man/Captain America/The Avengers films involved. Then the movie must pull in a character from another movie previously not tied in (Ant-Man) and introduce not one but two new characters (Spider-Man and Black Panther) with serious high stakes as both have stand-alone future films. This isn’t easy. If you think it is, see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Here’s what is amazing about Captain America: Civil War. It pulls all of it off. Not only that, everything it tries to accomplish works organically. This film is so expertly crafted, everything down to the introduction of both Spider-Man and Black Panther feel not only natural but necessary. The only criticism might be a janky timeline of events as the plot moves quickly and characters move around unrealistically in what becomes a race against time almost. The world hopping seems to defy the logic of time but could be easily explained away when we’re dealing with “enhanced” humans.
Another area where Captain America: Civil War delivers is with it’s action sequences. Typically, a comic book film delivers 1-2 phenomenal action sequences and maybe a few standard scenes. Civil War turns in not one, not two, not three, but four memorable action sequences that all could rank in the best in the pantheon of comic book films. They are long and over stuffed but so deliciously entertaining, you’ll want to eat every crumb.
It’s hard not to compare Captain America: Civil War to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and not due only to the proximity of their release. Both share many plot points. The emphasis is on the superheroes and the lines are somewhat blurred when it comes to who the villain is (although both films end up having distinct and defined villains). Captain America: Civil War hits where Batman v Superman misses. Even though the introduction of Wonder Woman is arguably the best moment of BvS, it feels crowbarred into the film. Flip to Captain America: Civil War and every character brought into the fray is done so in a natural, flowing way that never slows down the advancement of the story. To be fair, Captain America: Civil War has the advantage of Marvel’s more established expanded universe but neither Spider-Man nor Black Panther existed in the MCU at this point so this comparison is more apples to apples.
But it’s really not important to compare the two as both can be good and successful as we’ve proven we’ll spend the money. And if you think this is just a Marvel over DC bias, this reviewer didn’t see any Avengers movies, any Iron Man movies, any Captain America movies or Thor or The Hulk. None of them caught my attention at the time and outside of last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, none of these films came out while this site was in existence. I did see Ant-Man last year and thought it was pretty mediocre.
From start to finish, Captain America: Civil War delivers in so many ways. The action is some of the best we’ve seen from a comic book film, the storyline has real life implications and actions actually have consequence. The motivations of the characters are still derivative and standard to comic book fare but at least they feel well placed and organic. The acting is also very good and the newer cast holds it’s own with the established cast members who are already familiar with their subjects. Maybe it’s too long and the main villain is disappointingly established but I don’t know what I’d cut out and the villain isn’t central to the story but more of a catalyst to other bigger developments. All in all, Captain America: Civil War is a summer movie home run.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Take All Of Our Money
Not only did Captain America: Civil War set the table for an already planned follow-up, the establishment of Spider-Man and Black Panther as big screen spectacles and the reinforcement of Ant-Man as a viable commodity just guaranteed Scrooge McDuck piles of cash in the Disney vaults for at least a few more years.
- Some of the Best Action In Comic Book Film History
As a collective work, the action in Captain America: Civil War is arguably the best body of work in a comic book movie. While other films may have individual sequences that are better than what Captain America: Civil War has to offer (the Nightcrawler in the White House scene in X2: X-Men United, the Batman fight scene in Batman v Superman, the vampire rave scene in Blade, Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus on a train in Spider-Man 2, Hit-Girl kicking ass to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” in Kick-Ass and Superman vs. Zod in Man of Steel all leap to mind as better than any individual moment in Civil War), no other film in comic book movie history has the quantity of memorable sequences.
- Stay For BOTH Stingers
There are two stingers following Captain America: Civil War with one in the credits and one post-credit sequence.
- Black Panther
I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention how impressive the introduction of Black Panther was and how awesome the character looked on screen. While Spider-Man was expected and already revealed, it was smart to hold back the reveal of Black Panther in the previews as his first appearance is a real treat.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Jeremy Renner
This is nitpicking but do you buy Renner as a superhero? From all accounts, Renner wants to do more with Hawkeye which would most likely include a stand-alone film but in the pecking order of characters we want to see on the big screen in their own full-length feature, he has to be at the back of the line.