Before we get to the main review of Captain America: Civil War, let’s go a bit “inside baseball” for a moment. We are a Disney fansite and, as such, we want Disney to be successful. We want every film, television series, and attraction to be a home run. Of course, this is not always the case. When we do a review, we want it to be our honest opinion. Some will get great reviews, and others will not. That being said, I am growing a bit frustrated with the Walt Disney Studios. Almost all of their recent releases have been great. In fact, the only recent film that I felt was below par — The Good Dinosaur — is certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes. Even Bob Iger acknowledges not every film will turn out as good as they hoped, but recently the Walt Disney Studios has been challenging that assumption. While we know we may be viewed as a corporate shill, if a movie is great, it should be reviewed as such.
Captain America: Civil War is great. It continues the stories from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron in a way that may be a bit unexpected. While the title and the marketing might give you an idea of what the film is about, understand that the story is far more complex than Team Cap and Team Iron Man battling it out. (Though there is an amazing battle. More on that later).
When we recently went to see Batman V. Superman, we sat in the theater before the film discussing what story beats would be taking place in the film. Batman and Superman will see the world differently which will cause a battle orchestrated by the true villains, but then the good guys would eventually team-up to take down a greater evil and gain an understanding of each other which will lay the groundwork for the Justice League. While we might not have known the exact details of everything, we knew the framework because we have seen it time and time again.
While you may be inclined to think Civil War would just be Marvel’s version of this comic trope, it is so much more. Sure, the “splash page” battle at the airport may be the best fight scene in comic book movie history, but the battles are just part of the struggle. The characters don’t just pick sides and entrench themselves in their position. Everyone believes they are doing the right thing, but some more than others.
While the cast is huge, the strong screenwriting gives the audience a chance to understand the motivation of each character and how they came to choose their course of action. Each member of Team Cap and Team Iron Man is on their team for different reasons. Discovering those reasons is a large part of what makes the movie great, so I don’t want to delve into them here, but know that no two super heroes are alike. But please rest assured, each hero gets their turn in the spotlight while not bogging down the forward progress of the story.
Of course, this is Captain America’s movie and his struggle is at the heart of the film. Chris Evans does a great job of conveying Cap’s internal thoughts. Cap is a binary guy: there is a right way and a wrong way. When things get muddled, it is hard for him. While his loyalty never wavers to Bucky, that loyalty makes him question things that he would rather not have to face. This causes us to see a weakened Steve Rogers, not because he faced a strong foe, but because of the uncertainty he has in his own actions. Steve’s strength comes from being a “good man.” When he loses faith in that, we see a whole new side of him.
If there was one complaint, it would be that the opening fight sequence was a bit hard to follow with jerky camera movement and lacking a strong sense of placement. The film more than makes up for it with the airport battle. Just trust me, it is a cinematic achievement.
It is also hard to tell if the “secrets” of the film were meant to be discovered by the audience so easily or if they were meant to be a surprising reveal. Luckily, the film works either way so if you figure out what is going on before our heroes, you don’t feel cheated.
But while this film is a Captain America movie, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the new characters. Chadwick Boseman proved that he was the perfect choice for Black Panther. The film builds up anticipation for his solo film thanks to Boseman’s strong performance. And while we have seen many incarnations of Spider-Man over the years, Tom Holland is my favorite so far and is the version of Peter Parker I have been waiting to see (even if it having Marisa Tomei as Aunt May will take some getting used to). Even Paul Rudd debuts a new look for Scott Lang and brings some great levity to the story.
Captain America: Civil War continues the strong performance of Marvel Studios by being superbly crafted and a lot of fun. There is so much more to say about the movie, which we will share in the coming weeks, but, for now, we will leave it with this… Captain America: Civil War gets 5 out of 5 stars.