Jesus Harold Christ on rubber crutches…. Where do I even begin with this one? There are so many positive things I want to discuss and almost little to no disparaging remarks to make. CA: Civil War is top to bottom the most rousingly entertaining MCU film to have come out since Marvel Studios inception all the way back in 2008. It is the culmination of the 12 films preceding it and is the pinnacle of shared universe filmmaking. Other than a few noticeable omissions in Thor and Hulk, every character that has appeared in the previous entries is represented and given a full and complete arc of their own. Unlike Age of Ultron which really buckled under the weight of so many characters, The Russo Brothers nimbly balance each characters journey while never losing sight of the core story. A lot has been said about this being an Avengers 2.5 and that’s not necessarily wrong. While this is true solely based on the volume of heroes included, it really is about Cap and his journey to come to the aid of his friend Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier.
The jumping off point is a bombing that takes place at the United Nations, killing several leaders in the process. This attack is made to look like a Winter Soldier assignment and Bucky is hunted down and brought in for questioning. After said incident, and lieu of many other incidents prior to this movie, The Avengers are encouraged to sign what is referred to as the Sokovia Accords. This is a document which requires all costumed heroes to register themselves as government agents no longer allowing them free reign to fight world threats unsupervised. After the first two Avengers films and the previous Captain America: Winter Soldier, the collateral damage that ensued in all three of those stories will no longer be tolerated. The titular “Civil War” is in reference to the differing ideologies of both former Avenger Tony Stark and current leader Captain America himself. Stark feels that if they continue to operate unchecked and without guidelines they will continue to cause just as much damage as the threats they continually face.
Having been responsible for the creation of the Ultron A.I. which was the cause of the untold amounts of destruction in last years Avengers Age of Ultron, this particular issue hits home for Tony. This is less of something that appeals to his vanity and more of the ideal of protection at all costs. His signing of the accords and aligning with Secretary of State Thunderbolt Ross felt extremely organic to the journey his character took in not only his solo trilogy but both Avengers flicks as well. While I can’t say I stand with Team Iron Man on this particular issue, I do have to say after having seen the film and the dark place the ending leaves Tony Stark, I certainly have a lot more sympathy for him, which was not what I expected to happen. Needless to say the ending of the film, while optimistic, leaves our heroes in a fractured state and will have a lot of people wondering how the team will come together again for the upcoming two part Avengers: Infinity War saga.
Now if you read my previous article, you’ll know that when it comes down to it, I stand with Team Captain America. I won’t rehash what I said there, but suffice to say now having actually watched the movie my stance is even more strengthened than it was before. Cap’s reticence to sign the accords is in perfect alignment with many points I brought up in the previous article. He feels as if shackling him and his team to a government he doesn’t fully trust anymore could open the door for them to be used for nefarious means. However, as much as there is to be said about the parallels being drawn in this movie to real world politics, this is ultimately a story about a man sticking up for his friend against all odds and evidence to the contrary.
In an effort to frame Bucky Barnes aka Winter Soldier for the UN bombings King T’Chaka (the father of T’Challa aka Black Panther) was killed, which leads to the Black Panther’s involvement in this saga. Cap knows there’s more than meets the eye but no one else around him seems to believe it to be true. So even though the film is heavily predicated on these heroes and their differing ideologies, it’s ultimately the story of two best friends against the world. It’s at this point in the movie where Team Cap and Team Iron Man start to take shape. Steve knows with the accords in place, his mission to find the true culprit behind these attacks is unsanctioned and that he’s going to meet resistance from Stark and the team he has assembled.
This is where one of the big MVP’s of the movie entered into the picture. Tony Stark travels to Queens, New York where he recruits Spider Man himself Peter Parker. To say that Tom Hollands portrayal of the web-slinger is pitch perfect would be a vast understatement. In all the incarnations of the character past and present whether it be cinematically or in the various cartoons and video games, nobody has so perfectly and nimbly embodied the character of Spider Man. Holland literally nails everything people have come to love about the web head and I would wager to bet that there hasn’t been such perfect casting since Marvel announced RDJ as Iron Man or Evans as Captain America. Kinda makes it serendipitous that he makes his debut here huh? He’s just a kid who has been granted these extraordinary abilities and gleefully swings around throwing out quips and jokes as if his inclusion with the Avengers was the most exciting thing to happen to him up until this point. His youthful energy and exuberance is a breath of fresh air amongst the despair of two teams of former friends and colleagues trading punches like baseball cards. Even if the only motivation of including him here was to get us pumped for his upcoming solo film next year, sign me up because it worked like gangbusters.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the introduction of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. I really liked that they made his origin story an integral part of the plot which means when we also get his solo outing, we can jump right into the fun of the flick without having to suffer through yet another origin tale. Boseman plays Panther with a regal fierceness that almost made me side with him and Stark at several points. To him this isn’t about anything other than avenging (no pun intended) the murder of his father and bringing this criminal to justice. Of all the characters included in Civil War he is the most level headed in terms of doing what needs to be done to service the greater good. In many ways he’s just like Cap which makes where their story concludes by the end of the film all the more palpable and exciting. Also, quick shout out to Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man who in my opinion gets the most crowd pleasing moments (except for a quick bit between Cap and Iron Man at the end) in the whole film. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the flick yet, but I was so excited to see that he wasn’t just relegated to a quick cameo. Outside of this and Winter Soldier, last year’s Ant-Man movie is my favorite MCU flick so seeing him not only included but integral to the films centerpiece airport fight sequence pushed my fanboy buttons in all the right places.
I could go on forever and ever with all the things I loved about this movie. The burgeoning relationship between Scarlet Witch and Vision, the lovingly adversarial relationship between Caps two bros Falcon and Winter Soldier, Daniel Bruhl’s Helmit Zemo being an amazing villain, the absolutely heartbreaking and emotion shattering finale between Stark and Rogers. This is all next level stuff that will surely secure Captain America: Civil War amongst the best ( if not THE best) the MCU has to offer. It is the very pinnacle of populist cinema while offering plenty of thematic and morally complicated ideals to go along with the colorful pomp and circumstance. It’s exciting to see that this is the very culmination of the entire MCU journey up until this point and it’s only the very first film of their Phase 3 slate.
It would seem the boys at Marvel have yet again hit an out of the park grand slam and you owe it to yourself to see this again and again and again.