CAPTAIN AMERICA–CIVIL WAR (2016) : Movie Review
CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR : This certainly isn’t Marvel’s ‘answer’ to BATMAN V SUPERMAN but the next logical chapter in the Avengers Universe established to date. For all that, the title CAPTAIN AMERICA V IRON MAN would have been appropriate if ungainly–the actual film could just as easily have been named for Iron Man or even for The Avengers (but for the absence of Thor, the Hulk and Nick Fury). [Read: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2016) : Movie Review ]
I’ll try to be brief, but I’ll be the first to acknowledge that they’ve been paying attention upstairs. One of my complaints regarding the previous AGE OF ULTRON (a middling affair, in my book) involved what seemed an amazing avoidance on the film’s part to acknowledge any civilian casualties resulting from the actions of our heroes (even the Hulk managed to rampage without actually killing anybody). So CIVIL WAR starts right off by acknowledging the possibility and the reality of ‘collateral damage.’ The opening action has a faction of the Avengers stopping a deadly biological weapon from escaping Nigeria and devastating who knows how much of the world–but the act of saving someone ELSE’S life unquestionably causes the deaths of numerous innocent civilians and sparks an international incident. The Avengers are on notice, according to Secretary of State William Hurt (unless I’m mistaken, he’s still playing “don’t call me Thunderbolt” Ross from THE INCREDIBLE HULK). They are to submit to U.N. regulation and supervision via an accord that over a hundred participating nations are preparing to sign. Tony Stark/Iron Man believes that’s exactly the way to go, but Captain America (Chris Evans) believes that they and they alone should be in charge of their own superpowers.
Pulling the strings behind the scenes is Daniel Bruhl as Zemo, who has gained control of none other than the Winter Soldier (formerly ‘Bucky’)–which brings us to our NEXT moral dilemma… if someone has been brainwashed and programmed to carry out assassinations and other acts of terror, can the individual truly be held accountable for the actions he did, indeed, perform? Perhaps not so coincidentally, the act that TRULY sparks the conflict fueling the remainder of the film is nearly identical in both BvS and CW–but the introduction of Zemo is far more effective than the bizarre casting of Lex Luthor in the former.
Zemo’s carefully-planned strike not only has the effect of pitting different factions of the Avengers against each other, but also brings a new player into the fray (Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther). Ultimately, the situation must be resolved and the perpetrators either rounded up or neutralized for the sake of the safety of the world, but between the Panther, the Winter Soldier, Cap and Iron Man there’s far too much personal business (rooted in either loyalty or the need for vengeance) to settle things smoothly.
And yet CIVIL WAR manages to give us a raucous ‘fun’ battle first–neither team really wants to hurt the other and each faction has surprises to unveil (“Little guy is a giant, little guy is a giant, please advise…”) Yes, this is where Tom Holland debuts as Spider-Man, portrayed as a star-struck kid for the first time on film. He… is going to take some getting used to, but at least we’re spared yet another origin story, and if they don’t make utter hash out of his proposed series (like they did with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2), he’s got potential. All of this puts us in a much better frame of mind to prepare for the inevitable ‘serious’ battle near the end, in which the outcome is anything but guaranteed.
There’s a LOT more detail in the actual film, but you don’t need me for that. I will tell you that I think the Avengers Universe films peaked with the first AVENGERS film, with CA: THE WINTER SOLDIER the best of the bunch since then. You already know I found ULTRON somewhat disappointing, but I will place CIVIL WAR a notch above that at least–I felt that the slow build and careful storytelling worked to the film’s advantage and successfully built anticipation to the next chapter (as opposed to a satisfying catharsis). No hot-shot ‘spoiler alert’ bait, either–and that’s quite refreshing. But I can see exactly why DEADPOOL was embraced so heartily at this stage in the game… the timing was perfect! [Read: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) : Movie Review ]