Captain America: Civil War

565cb3ab8ea89I really enjoyed the first two Captain America films, so I was truly excited about seeing the third one. And it is a long film, with lots of characters in it, both old and new. I’ve heard some people calling it ‘Avengers 2.5’, because, with the exception of Thor and Hulk, all of the other Avengers are here, including the newcomers Scarlet Witch and Vision (played by Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany), the yet to be officially inducted Ant-Man (played by Paul Rudd).  There’s also two newcomers to the MCU, who may one day become official Avengers: Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman), and the newest super-hero, a 16-year old Spider-man (played by Tom Holland).  And all of these characters had to get some screen time in what is, ostensibly, a Captain America film, and not (officially, at least) an Avengers film.

The film starts out with a portion of the Avengers, minus Iron Man/Tony Stark, attempting to foil a terrorist plot, when things go awry. As a result of this, and of, basically, all of the other collateral damage involved in previous Avengers outings as shown in Avengers 1 & 2, as well as in :”Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, the United Nations decides that The Avengers cannot continue to operate as an independent entity. Remember that the Avengers was originally part of Shield, and with Shield gone (as of the previous Captain America film) the U.N. wants to take control of them. Captain America (Chris Evans) is reluctant to turn over control to a third party, and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlet Witch side with him.  Tony/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is the chief proponent of signing the ‘Secovia Accords’ so that they don’t continue to be considered ‘vigilantes’, as they are called, and Vision, War Machine (Done Cheadle), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) agree with him.

Now this is not the strongest part of the film. It is partly undercut by the fact that, as I explained, The Avengers only recently found themselves without oversight, and that oversight went away in the previous Captain America film, when it turned out that the group providing oversight, Shield, was corrupt. But ok, if you eliminate that small part of the argument, the fact that the U.N. wants to take control of The Avengers still makes sense, simply because no one wants an armed force operating independently in the world, no matter how benevolent they appear to be. That’s really all that needed to be said — but its there, not to show the U.N.’s motivation, but to show the motivation of the avengers in picking sides.

CivilWarBuckyBut what really finally drives the division in the Avengers is when Bucky Barnes, aka “The Winter Soldier” (Sebastian Stan) is spotted at the site of a terrorist attack. Cap, of course, decides that his friend must be innocent, but his friends (including Tony) warn him to not get involved. And, of course he doesn’t listen.

The movie is not perfect — one of the weakest parts of most of the MCU films has to do with their villains.  And while the main villain of this film is not terrible, he isn’t particularly memorable or fleshed out either. But for the most part, the film works. My little nitpicks aside, it makes sense as a whole. The Russo brothers manage to create two relatable sides in the conflict, which is not an easy thing to do.  It’s still CA’s movie.  But you can still see that both sides have a point.

blackpantherAnd the movie has some really good stuff going for it. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is great. The character is well written, and perfectly acted. If you are unfamiliar with the character from Marvel Comics, Black Panther/T’Challa is the king of Wakanda, a nation that the Avengers visit in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.  It is the only place in the world where Vibranium is found, the material that Captain America’s shield is made out of. Black Panther wears a suit, made, head to toe, completely out of Vibranium.

spider-man_spidermanThen there is the brand-spanking-new Spider-Man, played by 20-year-old Tom Holland. His introduction to the MCU is done so incredibly well.  All that was needed was a caption on the screen saying “Queens”, and the audience I was with erupted into shouts and cheers. I have to say that it was one of the best introductions of a new character in a Marvel film that I’ve ever seen, not to mention the fact that fans have LONG wanted Spidey to join the MCU. And he is a real highlight of the movie, even though he actually isn’t on screen for very long.

But, for me, the biggest highlight of the entire film, and one that will probably be talked about for a very long time, is the long, but never too long fight scene at the airport, which involves all of the Avengers and newcomers, including, most notably, Spider-Man. I can’t talk about it in any great detail without giving away too much.  But it is so incredibly well-choreographed, and scripted and everyone is given a fair amount of screen time to strut their stuff. I won’t say that Spider-Man steals the show here, because there’s enough great action for everyone.  But Spider-Man is certainly a highlight of this highlight.

I haven’t decided exactly where I would place this movie in the pantheon of superhero films, or even among the MCU movies.  It’s not my absolute favorite, but it certainly is up there. It is a bit long, but not by much. And it is a film that I want to see again (and maybe I will, very soon).  It is certainly one that I can recommend, especially if you’ve liked any of the other MCU movies. I will say that it would help if you’ve seen certain other films in the series, especially “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, and “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. You really don’t have to have seen them.  But if you want a better understanding of the characters, you probably should.

I do want to mention that this film has both a mid-credit and end-of-credit scene, so you will want to stay until the end of all of the credits. And, of course, it has the usual humorous cameo by Stan Lee.  See the film and let me know what you think of it, even if you disagree with anything I wrote.

 

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