The hype is real! Captain America: Civil War has been torturing me for the past month – it was released internationally long before it was released in the U.S. and had its world premiere in Hollywood at the beginning of April. Seriously think it was only because Disney wanted to make more money off The Jungle Book first. Whatever reasons they may have had for the delay, the film was finally released; and, oh boy, does it deliver!
Now I went into this film with a lot of high expectations, so I have to warn anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to disregard the marketing campaign. The trailers, TV spots, and clips released all tend to make this look like Avengers 2.5 or Civil War: The Movie, but this is 100% a full-fledged Captain America 3 – just with a LOT of supporting characters. If you’ve read the comics and are expecting a huge Civil War, lower those expectations now – this is a Cap and Bucky story that wraps up the plotlines from Captain America: The First Avenger and (even more importantly) Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Story-wise, the movie is…well, fine. Certainly not my favorite and at times it does feel like the Civil War idea should have been saved for a true Avengers film, but they did manage to get me to care about Bucky for the first time ever. I won’t say much here since there are a few good surprises, but overall it feels like Winter Soldier – Part 2 with some Civil War elements sprinkled in for good measure.
And let me tell you, those Civil War moments are absolutely incredible! There are quite a few big action scenes throughout, but the one that will keep you on the edge of your seat in total awe is the airport scene. This is the one we’ve seen countless times in trailers, teasers, and TV spots where “Team Cap” and “Team Iron Man” face off. Imagine 15 minutes of the best superhero-on-superhero action yet put to film; Captain America, the Winter Soldier, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye pitted against Iron Man, War Machine, the Vision, Black Panther, Black Widow, and Spider-FREAKING-Man (I’ll gush about him later). A truly huge showdown that just continues and continues – seriously, this scene alone is about 15-20 minutes long – yet keeps your attention the entire time! It’s some amazing filmmaking and you really do get to see every hero be effective and badass. The best part has to be the tone of the whole thing – in the end, all these people are still friends. They just happen to have different views on how the Avengers should be held accountable for their actions. Some of the best interpersonal emotion and banter comes from this scene, particularly in the pairings of Spidey/Cap, Wanda/Vision, and Hawkeye/Black Widow. Without a doubt this is the tentpole of the film.
Which leads me to what I believe is a shortcoming of the film: the focus. The airport scene definitely seems like it was meant to be the biggest craziest part of the movie, so a lot of time was spent building up to that. Unfortunately, it means our “villain” Helmut Zemo is barely in the film. Yeah, believe it or not, there’s a villain in this craziness – don’t worry, I kept forgetting too! It’s not that he’s bad by any means (and he may be the first villain in a Marvel movie to actually…well, let’s not talk about that…if you’ve seen the film I urge you to think about the ending and its implications), he just doesn’t feel threatening given his utter lack of screen time. Not only that, but his dastardly plan is…ok. He’s more of a manipulator than the “big-bad baddie” we’ve grown used to in superhero films, but his inclusion honestly feels a bit rushed. On the positive side, now that we have Zemo might we see a Thunderbolts movie in the future…?
All the other characters are amazing and memorable, though. While the main focus is very much on Captain America, Bucky, Iron Man, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch (I know, surprised me, too), everyone gets the perfect amount of time to strut their stuff. Even if I may think it would be cool to give Ant-Man or Vision more to do, it’s difficult to look back and say anyone was disserviced other than Zemo. And, yes, Spider-Man is the absolute best version of the character put to film. He’s a quick-witted, smart-ass, teenage dork with a tendency to talk too much and fanboy over every little thing – and his aunt is super hot (which is kind of weird to be saying about Aunt May, but I’m ok with it if it means Marisa Tomei is in the MCU). Black Panther will hype you for his own film in 2018; if he doesn’t, you might actually be a little dead inside. His action scenes are fast, vicious, and intense. Definitely not someone you want to provoke. Beyond that, almost everyone else is just as great as you remember them from their other films – except Wanda Maximoff. Introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron last year, Wanda was cool but didn’t live up to her full comic book potential or really solidify herself in the hearts of movie fans. I would be surprised if this film doesn’t change that at least a little. Without a doubt, she’s the MVP of the airport battle and has a lot more characterization in this; there’s even some adorable hints at her comic book romance with the Vision. She’s grown up from the scared little girl horribly out of her element from last time and is now perhaps the most powerful Avenger. Seriously, with all the incessant calls for a Black Widow solo film lately (really…?) this just made me want a Scarlet Witch solo or Wanda/Vision team-up film.
Sadly, while I’d love to gush more about this, it’s difficult to say much without spoilers. When it comes down to it, Captain America: Civil War is a bit of an emotional/psychological thriller containing some brilliant story elements, mesmerizing action, and a hit-or-miss through-line to tie it all together. It’s not my favorite Marvel film (that’s still probably Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man), but it’s a solid entry that I highly recommend.
And the hype is now very real for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Summer 2017…? No!!! It’s too far away!!! Guess I can take comfort in other superhero movies coming out this year…time to kick back and wait for Suicide Squad in Augus-…wait. There’s another superhero movie coming out this month? Oh dear God, why is it a Fox “Marvel” movie?!?!? They haven’t given up yet…?? Ugh…
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