This review, rather than being posted after the promo show, is being posted after my second screening of the film. This is due to the fact that I had knowledge that there were certain scenes filmed in the IMAX format, and the promo show was only in 3D. Moving on.
“Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War” is an adaptation of the comic storyline of the same name. There are some obvious changes to the story to adapt to the MCU’s story direction, but we get to the same point. There is a traumatic event involving the Avengers, specifically Scarlet Witch, that leads to the Sokovia Accords, a United Nations act signed by 117 countries that places the Avengers under the oversight of the UN. It is these Accords that split the team down the middle, when a guilt ridden Tony Stark leads the pro-registration charge and Steve Rogers is the man that sees more danger than good in having the Avengers under the thumb of an organization like the UN. *
Within all of this build-up we are introduced to the hyped new players of the MCU, Black Panther and Spider-Man. Black Panther is the warrior mantle held by T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, who is seeking the Winter Soldier for revenge. He integrates into both the superhero and diplomatic scenes well, and brings it to the fight when he gets involved in the fight to recapture Bucky. And Spider-Man is fantastic! The third attempt at the character is handled how it needs to be. Peter Parker is a high school kid suddenly gifted with extraordinary powers, but he’s just a kid. He gets starstruck when he sees Iron Man and Captain America, likes to engage in witty banter even in the middle of a major fight scene, and pulls more than his weight when it comes to helping his idols(or one of them at least).
We get that major fight scene,the one that has been teased in all the promotions, but not even this is the fight that truly divides the team. But it is an important once, at least cinematically, since this 14-minute sequence is where the IMAX camera comes into play and we experience what it means when used for a scene of this scale. Basically it is a visual treat, with Ant-Man morphing into Giant-Man, Spider-Man swinging through the frame, and everyone engaged in a physical and ideological fight.
It isn’t until we get to the third act that the true emotion of the movie comes into play. Captain America and the Winter Soldier, with the eventual help of Tony Stark, are hunting down vengeful Sokovian citizen Helmut Zemo. They are trying to stop what they believe to be his plot to “topple an empire,” no realizing his plot was put into motion with the manhunt for Barnes at the start of the film.
The entire third act of the film is a brutal, emotional scene of betrayal, desperation and finally defeat, in a movie that had been fairly and surprisingly humorous and light up until this point. When it is revealed to Tony that the Winter Soldier was the one ultimately at fault for the death of his parent and that Steve knew, the Civil War truly begins.**
From the reveal to the intense, close quarters fight scene between the three, we finally see the splintering that was hinted at for so long, in both this movie and in previous films. But even here, at the very end, the movie manages to intersperse moments of laugh out loud humor seen in so may previous scenes of the movie, a true triumph of tone, writing and direction when we would expect that humor to be the least thing capable of coming from these characters.
“Captain America: Civil War” is what “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” wanted to be, but failed to accomplish in terms of integrating storylines. We have two additional storylines threading throughout the Captain America story, and all three are handled with aplomb. Each are given the time they deserve, the development they deserve, and the resolution they deserve, at least for now. All of the characters are given time equitable to their importance to the story, not an attempt to shoehorn in characters for the sake of having them.
It is this mastery of story that lets Civil War succeed on levels that many movies have striven for, even from within the MCU.
“Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War” is rated PG-13 and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany,Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, William Hurt, Frank Grillo, Daniel Bruhl, Martin Freeman and Marisa Tomei.
*On second watch, Roger’s reasoning is the one I have the biggest issue with. The writers could have included a bit more of the character and his past in the reasoning. Seeing a group of humanity required to register and then be at the whim of a governmental power once before with the Holocaust would have given Rogers more than enough pause when being asked to sign. But I also acknowledge that the movie does;t explore enchanced humans so much as it focuses on the Avengers and their actions. I’m sure “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will explore this however.**
**We know that Cap knows from the scene in “Winter Soldier” when the digitized Zola shows Cap and Black Widow a slideshow of what the Soldier and HYDRA have done since Red Skull fell.**