In our review for Captain America: Civil War, Marvel hits another high note with possibly their best movie yet while out shining another superhero vs. superhero effort that fell flat in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Superhero versus superhero.
It’s not a concept foreign to comic book readers, but still something fairly new to the generation of fans who have grown up discovering superheroes through a medium like film or television.
This year saw a pair of high profile features with a similar plotline laid out to viewers before they ever stepped foot into theaters. In one corner stood Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice — the most ambitious DC film project of all time and the first moment when two of the most popular and well known characters in comic book history would appear together on the big screen. The other was Captain America: Civil War, which was loosely based on the comic book event of the same name that pit Captain America against Iron Man in a battle of wills.
The way it all played out one of those films fizzled while the other soared.
Batman V. Superman wasn’t a terrible film, but it failed to tick many of the necessary boxes to make the movie a believable plot that would ultimately see hero against hero. There were plenty of holes in the story for that movie, but the most compelling sell for the entire film didn’t really seem to work and it almost proved unnecessary to the entire feature as a whole.
That wasn’t the case for Captain America: Civil War — which could have just as easily doubled as an Avengers sequel — with the stakes higher than ever and a completely logical reason why Tony Stark would be standing on the opposite side of the aisle from Steve Rogers. Add in a villain like Baron Zemo, whose reasons for hating the Avengers is made much more clear than the staggering miscues fired by Lex Luthor in Batman V. Superman, and it’s just another reason why Captain America: Civil War is the must see movie of the 2016.
Understandably, a review for one movie shouldn’t be made to denigrate another, but because these films were released in such close proximity with a similar tagline attached to each, it’s impossible to separate them at this stage. Certainly as time passes, these two movies will be remembered in different ways but right now, it’s tough to think about the flawless execution Marvel pulled off with Captain America: Civil War while DC fell flat in so many ways while trying to showcase Batman V. Superman.
Captain America: Civil War truly was a Marvel masterpiece from start to finish.
From the character development to the plot that ultimately lead to the fracture of the Avengers to the conclusion with a twist ending that once again turned the audience on its head, this film was as close as you’ll get to a perfect movie going experience all wrapped up into two hours and 25 minutes of pure bliss spent sitting in a theater.
The Avengers have been seen as a world saving unit, but their actions haven’t come without collateral damage. Whether it was the alien attack on New York that left dozens of innocent bystanders dead or the tragedy in Sokovia where Ultron was defeated but many of the people who lived there didn’t make it out alive despite the intervention of the Avengers. Now after another tragic loss of life, the government is stepping in to order some checks and balances on the Avengers and force them to adhere to a new set of standards that will make them accountable for the actions they take.
This new set of rules splinters the Avengers down the middle as Tony Stark believes that the Sokovia accords will keep the group focused on life saving missions with government support while Steve Rogers thinks that they could end up becoming political pawns who are going to sit on the sidelines while bad things continue to happen all over the world because they haven’t been given permission to intervene.
To add an extra layer of drama to the fold, The Winter Soldier has reappeared after not being seen for several years following his revelation as a member of HYDRA, who helped to take down SHIELD and nearly killed millions of people in the process. The Winter Soldier coming out of hiding puts Captain America in a tough position because he knows deep down this is still his best friend Bucky Barnes and it’s going to be impossible for him to shoot to kill no matter what he’s done.
Add in a slew of new characters like the Black Panther, Baron Zemo and of course Spider-Man and this movie is a melting pot of awesome all rolled up into one.
As always, Robert Downey Jr. is brilliant playing Tony Stark, but this movie actually allows him to show a deeper, emotional range that hasn’t really been showcased in previous Iron Man or Avengers movies.
Chris Evans is still terrific as Captain America and the returning cast members are all top notch from Scarlett Johansson stealing scenes as Black Widow to Anthony Mackie’s well timed comic relief as Sam Wilson to injection of Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Olsen as a phenomenal supporting cast.
But three special nods must be made to thre debuting actors who are appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time.
Chadwick Boseman was outstanding playing T’Challa aka The Black Panther. From his initial introduction to the action scenes where he went toe-to-toe with a lot of heavy hitters, Boseman not only introduced himself to Marvel fans but his performance should have left everyone frothing at the mouth for his solo film debut coming soon.
Daniel Bruhl was cerebral and masterful with his turn as Baron Zemo in this movie. In many ways you might wonder why this movie even needs an additional villain with everything else going on, but his inclusion is the missing piece to the puzzle. Bruhl wasn’t just another mustache twisting bad guy either — he had depth of character and when this film is over, you might just call him the most devious and conniving villain Marvel has created since Loki first debuted on screen.
And of course the other A+ performance goes to Tom Holland as Spider-Man, who might have just single handedly pulled off the single best portrayal of the character on film in history. He’s that good.
Holland doesn’t just play Peter Parker — he makes you believe he is Peter Parker. From his mannerisms to his delivery to his teenage naivety when dealing with the other heroes, this is the Spider-Man fans have been waiting to meet for decades. Obviously we already know that Spider-Man is getting his own feature film coming soon and if the writer and director behind that movie can build on what was just created in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland is going to become a household name in a matter of just a few years.
Directing and Writing
The Russo brothers — Joe and Anthony — already understood this world very well after an outstanding outing for Captain America: The Winter Soldier but just like a platinum selling bad returning with a sophomore album, the expectations are always higher the second time around.
The good news is the Russo brothers nailed it with this movie.
Add to that a screenplay from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely that had cutting dialogue and a truly enveloping story, there was not a single thing to complain about from the writers. In fact, this movie hit every emotional nerve and gives something to everybody buying a ticket to this one. Whether it’s comedy or action or heart-wrenching moments, Captain America: Civil War has it all.
What’s Wrong with the Movie?
The honest truth is there’s nothing not to love about this movie.
If there was one moment that was just slightly overbearing it was the fact that Captain America: Civil War felt like an apology for the missteps that happened in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Avengers sequel faced a litany of mixed reviews that left some fans wondering where Joss Whedon veered off course from the first movie to the second one.
Captain America: Civil War makes it clear from the very start of the movie that they are paying off debts from the mistakes made on Age of Ultron and it gets a little heavy handed at moments.
That’s an extremely minor complaint, however, because this movie really makes it clear that The Avengers are going to be accountable for everything they do — both good and bad — and it seems Age of Ultron swung dramatically towards the bad side.
It wouldn’t be tough to anoint Captain America: Civil War as the best Marvel movie ever made because this one has anything and everything you could want out of a superhero film. The conflict between Iron Man and Captain America feels genuine and also torturous because deep down it’s clear these two friends don’t really want to fight each other but they do it anyways.
The big fight scene in the middle of the movie that has been teased heavily in all of the trailers is the best payoff you could ever imagine for a movie like this. It’s so wholly satisfying, you could watch that one part, get up and walk out of the theater and feel like you got your money’s worth.
Add in characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man and there’s no reason why Captain America: Civil War shouldn’t be at the top of your list for multiple viewings before this film escapes theaters.
This isn’t a just a movie you should see — this is a movie you need to see.
Captain America: Civil War gets five out of five from the Skolnick Scale