Oh hello there. I didn’t notice you over the sound of my screaming. How are you? Oh good. I’m doing well too. I just saw Captain America: Civil War after counting down the days since June 29th, 2015. It was pretty good.
Just kidding. It was amazing. And we’re going to go in depth on why, because me screaming about the importance of protecting Tony Stark is not going to be of much help.
Full disclosure: I am a huge Marvel fan. But I am also an aspiring critic, and I will do my best to balance the two. Admittedly, I haven’t always done my best with that (Avengers: Age of Ultron is a movie I loved, but I recognize that I was a little monotone in the review because other critics were harsh). But I want to balance approaching this movie as a Marvel-nerd and as a normal moviegoer. Also, there are not really spoilers in this review, but if you haven’t seen it yet and you want to be surprised at character reveals, you should probably stop reading (and why haven’t you seen the movie yet?!?).
Captain America: Civil War is both a sequel to Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It deals with the consequences of the Avengers actions around the globe. Captain America/Steve Rogers thinks the Avengers do not need accountability, and Iron Man/Tony Stark believes they do. It is based off the famous 2006-2007 comic book title of the same name.
The film is directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who helmed Winter Soldier. Age of Ultron was directed by Joss Whedon, who after having his spirit broken by the film, has quit Marvel for good, giving up directing Infinity War pt. 1 and 2, which is now going to the Russos.
Now why I bring this up is that as the Marvel movies increase, a bigger and bigger checklist appears. Age of Ultron included a checklist for Whedon that included introducing two new superheroes, foreshadowing Civil War, setting up the Infinity Stones for Infinity War, expanding the cinematic universe, and sticking to a comic book storyline, along with also being a worthy predecessor to one of the most successful movies of all time.
Now with Civil War, the Russos must restore the faith of the fans unhappy with Ultron, do more extending of the universe, foreshadow Infinity War, add two new characters, one who is almost hated and half-owned by another studio, and include another ten characters not usually in a Captain America movie, as well as convince everyone that Captain America is not gay, even though he literally starts a war for a guy.
So while I loved Age of Ultron, I understand not everything Joss Whedon was asked to do was handled well. It seems like he gave up in parts, the parts he didn’t care about. The Russos, on the other hand, do their darndest on everything, making it seem like everything they are given is exciting and new. There is an attitude difference towards the films from the filmmakers that really shows through, and is a big part of the success of the film overall.
But there are also some other factors that contribute to the success of the film.
- The motivations were clear and earned. Unlike with Batman v. Superman v. Rotten Tomatoes, the characters listen to each other and hear each other out. These problems and the breaking of spirits and psyches have been evolving for the past 12 movies. This is why a cinematic universe works when it’s well done. Each decision made in the movie is a deeply personal one for each character. If we hadn’t had those other movies, there would be no way we would be able to understand why each character is making the decisions they are making.
- Every character gets to shine. For a movie that is so crowded that not even all the main characters get their names on the poster, everyone gets a few moments. Yes, some of these characters are fan-service, Easter eggs, or serve as setting up future movies, but everyone gets a time to shine, and it is very well-balanced. It’s a huge movie, but it doesn’t feel over-stuffed or rushed.
- The new additions are amazing. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is incredible. He has a very thoughtful introduction, and is very different from all the other Avengers. He is the real righteous superhero, not Captain America. He goes from seeking revenge to wanting true justice. He saves people on a worldwide and personal level, which is the exact problem between Ironman and Captain America. Tony Stark has a bigger vision than Captain America, but Captain America cares very much about individual people. T’Challa (Black Panther) cares about both, and I loved seeing such a good role model. Tom Holland as Spiderman was also great. Those who have Spiderman fatigue, never fear. This Spiderman is different. He acted like a real high schooler, not a super-model pretending to be dorky high schooler. An actual high schooler who can’t fight a battle because he has homework. I can’t wait for his and Black Panther’s upcoming solo movies.
- They made the old characters fresh again. After a fifth or sixth time playing a character, it can be tiring for the audience to see the same thing. But this movie really took the arcs of the characters that have been developing for a while, and used them to evolve the characters. For example, one thing they did was change up Black Widow’s fighting style. Up until now, she has used a lot of agility, like wrapping herself around a person or flipping them over. It’s usually how women in film are portrayed with a fighting style- more about grace than brute force. But in this movie, she fights much more with brute strength. She uses her whole body to attack someone, which was a reflection of her character in the movie. She’s done, she’s tired. She helped build this little family after she lost everything, and now they’re tearing themselves apart. She wants it to end, she doesn’t want to fight anymore, and her aggression shows it. Little details like this really make me appreciate the Russo’s artistry.
- It’s just a really, really good movie. The pacing, character arcs, balance of humor and suspense, action, and just overall production values and acting are phenomenal.
Now if you are a casual movie-goer, I don’t think this movie is going to hit home for you as much as it does for for me and my fellow nerds. There are a lot of emotional punches that relate back to old MCU movies. There are ties that go back to the first Iron Man and Captain America movie from Phase 1. But, if you’ve seen most of the movies and kinda remember them, then it’s going to be a good experience, especially if you have a good grasp on The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.
But as someone who has committed to all 13 movies, I was over the moon. I was geeking out about the movie with the people I went with. The whole audience was alive. It really reminds you how movies, especially big blockbusters like this movie, can bring people together.
Because united we stand, divided we fall.
-Madeleine D will return in another review