Classic Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Captain America: Civil War” which originally appeared here.

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

So this is another big one and one from my list of most anticipated films of 2016 (obviously). When it comes to Marvel (at least the MCU films) vs. DC films, Nolan Batman films aside, I’ve always preferred Marvel’s films because I am personally more familiar with the characters and I’ve always liked their tone. The Avengers films specifically had a more fun, sometimes comedic tone while the Captain America films (at least the last one) had a more serious, albeit different tone which I also enjoyed. While I didn’t have as much fun with Age of Ultron, I liked The Winter Soldier’s more serious, thriller-like story. What I liked so much about this one is that we got both of these here.

While this is the last of two big superhero battle films, this one felt less gimmicky (cough Batman v. Superman cough). The film establishes the cause of for the division (you know what it is) early on as things get out of hand for some of the Avengers creating cause for concern. The differences in opinion were very evident here, dictating the actions of each character, more specifically Captain America (Evans) and Iron Man (Downey Jr.) with the other Avengers taking sides with either of them. While they became divided over their differences in opinion, neither team was really against each other (going against what the trailers and posters show). While this film may just be establishing these new political undertones within the MCU and may elaborate on it later but this film specifically could have gone a lot deeper with this as this felt abandoned later on.

One may think this film is just about Team Captain America and Team Iron Man, there is a lot more going on here than that. Of course the bulk of the film consists of this divide within the Avengers, there is still a villain here because the film’s “Civil War” was not going to be enough (in my opinion). The villain here was a man named Zemo (Daniel Brühl), more on that later. This was where the divide was the most evident here as this was cause for distraction while the team eventually found their way to him. Each team leader shared different opinions as to the right way of pursuing him.

Inevitably, this divide led to some battles between both teams, coming to fruition in a scene involving an airport (no spoilers). This and the other lesser battles, were very well done and exciting to watch. This was because of the choreography and the special effects which have always been well done in Marvel films. What really brought these action sequences to life was the excellent cinematography. This along with the editing allowed each shot and each scene to flow nicely.

What made this feel less gimmicky (when compared to Batman v. Superman) was the story. There was a lot going on here as the film went from location to location early one but it never felt overwhelming. What often happens in films with multiple characters, films often fail to balance all of its characters. This was not the case here as the film found a way to give all of its secondary characters (second to Captain America and Iron Man) ample screen time. This included Spider-Man (Tom Holland) who was reintroduced to the MCU who had some great moments here, often stealing scenes. As a whole, all the characters had great chemistry which made scenes fun to watch.

If a film is going to have so many characters, it has to have a great story instead of just parading the characters gratuitously. This would probably have worked but they thankfully gave us more here. Overall, the film had more of a serious tone but it still had some comedic moments as well, combining the best parts of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the Avengers films. This balance worked because of the chemistry between the actors and more importantly, the writing and the script. Again, the film also features a subplot involving a villain named Zemo. This part of the film unfortunately did not get as much focus as it should have which made it feel slightly disconnected from the rest of the plot. This lack of focus did not allow Zemo to ever really establish himself within the film, diminishing his overall impact.

The performances here are as expected for a MCU film which were great across the board. Everyone was as expected here. Downey Jr. and Evans were great as Iron Man and Captain America respectively and it was great to see the evolution of their characters over the series. They just get better and better with every film. Seeing that this is a MCU film, there was some set-up to future films but unlike Age of Ultron, this did not shift focus away from the plot here. Without giving anything away, everyone probably already expects this, but the film does have a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene.

Overall, this another great addition to the MCU featuring an exciting story with great action, great special effects, and great performances.

Score: 9.5/10

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