It’s the film too big for just one reviewer! It’s time to gather up the Psycho Drive-In All-Stars, Shawn Hill, Allison Mattern, John E. Meredith, Jeffrey Roth, Rick Shingler, and Lexi Wolfe and set them loose on Marvel’s latest epic adventure, Captain America: Civil War! Despite the presence of numerous Marvel heroes, this isn’t an Avengers film. It’s a Captain America film, and a sequel to Winter Soldier, not Age of Ultron. So the people we care about here are those closest to Cap: Sharon and Peggy Carter (yes, related), Sam Wilson, and Bucky Barnes. It’s Tony who messes up when his own misery makes him lose trust in Cap, leads him to have Vision detain Wanda off the playing field, and generally behave with the arrogance that set off the comic book Civil War the first time. Like that time, Cap was right and Tony was wrong, though this mistake is both more simplistic and more contrived. There are long patches of exposition in this film, and a decades-long spy plot that I confess I lost track of more than once, or that at least was tied to some very unlikely coincidences that drive the plot without enough resonance to always engage the emotions. Hi, Tony’s parents, great casting, where’d you come from again? What I enjoyed instead were the fights. The action sequences are beautiful, exciting, unique to these characters and multi-dimensional in explosions of well-lit color. Imagine fighting in the daytime in an abandoned airport, now that alone is an innovation to this genre. That and other battles provided an amplification of the feeling I used to get from the 1990s X-Men cartoon when I was finally seeing the stories I already loved jump off the page and into (animated) live action on the screen. Just endless glee! There are enough surprises and twists in the various battles that it’s like seeing seminal multi-hero brawls from Avengers, X-Men, Champions, Defenders and on-and-on over the years. Unique powers are depicted clearly and used ingenuously, and that includes Wanda’s hexes, Falcon’s little spy-cam drone Redwing, the Panther’s metallic claws, a very amusing Spider-Man, and the many surprises up Ant-Man’s tiny sleeves. Many characters get pointed spotlights in this outing, an almost dizzying array of modes and moments. I’m mesmerized by the glowing texture of Vision’s slightly out-of-phase skin, enthralled by Natasha’s virtuoso solo battles and their contrast with the reasonable advice she keeps trying to give so frequently even though no one listens, and intrigued by the hints of complex depths behind the suave poise of Black Panther and his Wakandan homeland. Wanda still has guilt and atonement on her mind (though weirdly no mention at all of Pietro’s death), Tony has apparently screwed things up with Pepper again and is, in general, a sort of moody jerk for most of the movie. But Downey can make nearly any scene work, and he’s not really a problem for the film at all. The problem is with the hero and the villain. Bucky as mind-controlled soviet agent is literally personality-free, which gives Sebastian Stan next to nothing to do except fight. He doesn’t even get to have the stoic fun with this persona that Colossus gave to the Deadpool movie. Chris Evans, the eternal caretaker, gets to do all his emoting for him (that isn’t inchoate screaming, I mean), and though he does it with the full ability to remind us always of that hopeful kid from Brooklyn in the first film, it’s not quite enough. The villain, a cypher with a familiar name but a pointless grudge from the Sokovia tragedy (could we maybe blame Ultron for that rather than the people who defeated him?), isn’t much better. A zombie hero vs. colorless villain isn’t inherently all that interesting. Good thing the Avengers came along to distract us with all their amazing toys! — Shawn Hill WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THIS ONE! I didn’t watch Avengers: Age of Ultron. I didn’t watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I didn’t want to watch Captain America: Civil War. I’m not a Marvel fangirl, I don’t keep up on the latest Marvel projects, and I didn’t even know who some of the characters were while I was watching this latest Captain America installment. I had no desire to see the latest Captain America movie, but a friend was in town and he wanted to see it, so I felt like being nice and watching it with him. That being said, I absolutely adored Captain America: Civil War. Why all of the preceding statements? Because I think that Captain America: Civil War has an appeal that goes far beyond the “superhero” genre of films. Going in, I thought this film was just created so that Marvel fans could get off watching a huge array of their favorite superheroes fighting each other, and I wasn’t completely wrong—there is a scene where almost every superhero you can think of face off on opposing sides in battle– but at its core, Captain America: Civil War is much more focused on emotional battles as opposed to physical ones. The plot revolves around the aftermath of Age of Ultron. I didn’t watch it, but I get it: in pursuit of the bad guy, they end up destroying Sokovia and many innocent people lose their lives. The film does a great job mirroring our current terrorist-filled world where trying to do the right thing has unintended negative consequences, and the bombings and attacks seem never ending. Because of the destruction caused by the Avengers in pursuit of villains, the government wants them to sign a document putting them under the purview of the United Nations. If they don’t sign, they’ll be forced into retirement and any unsanctioned altruistic pursuits will get them arrested. Tony Stark feels that the Avengers need to be put in check, while Captain America feels in his heart that signing is the wrong thing to do. That’s all you need to know. Captain America feels that it’s wrong. He ALWAYS does the right thing. That’s his whole shtick. Why argue with him? The dichotomy of Stark versus Cap is the highlight of the film, as the writers intended. You can almost see Tony Stark’s point of view- the issue is much more gray than black and white- but he, in essence, is the true villain of Civil War, not the Sokovian soldier who pits the Avengers against each other. Loyalties are tested as Bucky is thrown into the mix—he’s framed for a terrorist bombing at a UN building that kills Black Panther’s father which sets Black Panther on Bucky’s tail. Cap must defend Bucky not only from Black Panther but from the other Avengers as well: Black Widow, Vision, War Machine, and yes, Spider-man, all led by Iron Man. It’s telling that eventually Black Widow gives in and allows Cap and Bucky to leave via plane without even truly knowing where Cap is going; if Captain America feels this strongly about something, even if you think he’s wrong, you may want to reevaluate your own moral compass. The extended fight scene is a lot of fun as the now frenemies try to beat on each other enough to impede their progress but try to not truly harm anyone. When War Machine is actually hurt, the audience feels the pointlessness in his injury. Do they really need to be fighting each other on this? And eventually Stark feels the pointlessness too as he follows Captain and Bucky to help them in what they all think will be a fight against other super soldiers. The movie truly took a turn from good to great in my opinion when it is anticlimactically revealed that the super soldiers we thought the Sokovian bad guy was going to release were all just a ruse to get Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes in the same room together. The “villain” has done the right thing and eliminated them as humanely as possible. This “villain” just wanted to see the Avengers destroy themselves as revenge for the killing of his family in Sokovia. What could have been a clichéd action scene is turned on its head as emotional depth is added. The Civil War truly begins when the Sokovian shows a clip of Bucky, under control from Hydra, murdering Tony Stark’s parents. When this is revealed, Stark goes on a rampage trying to kill Bucky while Captain tries to stop him, giving us some of the most satisfying fight scenes of the film in the process, and yes that is including Spider-man nimbly shooting his webs while he simultaneously shoots off at the mouth. My favorite scene is when Cap and Bucky team up on Iron Man, throwing the iconic shield back and forth in synchronicity as they deliver their blows. Which leads me to what I absolutely love about Captain America the character and Captain America the movie: the focus on loyalty. With his steel beam posture and heart of gold, Cap just can’t abandon his oldest friend. He’ll do anything to support him, even if that means he has to turn his back on his Avenger friends and beat Iron Man into submission. The fight scene is so intense that there comes a point where I truly thought Cap might cut off Stark’s head with his shield, but of course he sinks the edge into the glowing front of the suit instead, disabling it. But as is the case with Captain America, he continues to do the right thing, causing pretty much everyone to end up on his side at the end, even Black Panther. He breaks the other Avengers out of the prison the government encased them in for acting without government approval during the big superheroes fighting superheroes battle, and he leaves Tony Stark with a conciliatory letter and a phone to use to call him if he ever needs his help. That Cap just never seems to hold a grudge, and that’s another reason I love him. He can see through people’s bad behavior to find the motivations underneath and empathize with them. Once again proving Cap’s ability to move forward and Black Panther’s ability to change, the movie ends with Captain America gaining assistance from Black Panther to freeze Bucky until technology catches up to make him unable to be mind-controlled. So in the end, his need for revenge and inability to process the fact that Bucky was under the influence of mind control when he murdered his parents, makes Tony Stark the true villain of Captain America: Civil War. The Avengers are fractured because he wants to hold on to his pain and vengefulness, and he is no better than the Sokovian villain who resides in prison at the end of the film. While Stark has always been an asshole, the film did a great job of taking him from funny smart-ass in the previous films to borderline unlikeable in Civil War. You understand his devastation at the death of his parents, but in contrast to Captain America, Stark’s character flaws truly stand out. Black Panther was awesome throughout. I loved his character arc as he goes from desperate for revenge to understanding that his vengeful nature will ultimately destroy him. He’s a great foil for Iron Man because Stark doesn’t ultimately come to that same realization and suffers for it. I would also like to say that the scene where Captain America single-handedly stops the helicopter from flying away stands out in my memory as one of the top scenes in the movie. Thank you filmmakers, for the bulging muscles, and thank you Chris Evans for just being you. So, I may not go back and watch Avengers: Age of Ultron, but you can bet money that I’ll be retroactively watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Cap, you got me. I may not be a fangirl of Marvel, but I am definitely now one for Captain America. — Allison Mattern I was never a huge fan of Captain America. You could blame it on Spider-Man or the X-Men, or maybe even on Batman, for all of them appealed much more to my teenage sense of being a freakish outsider. Maybe you could blame it on coming from a poor working-class family, the kind that once spent Christmas Eve huddled around a space heater, munching on free government cheese, my father having been rendered unemployed when the factory he worked for closed without warning a week earlier. We felt like people forgotten by the world, unconsidered by the country in which we were drowning, and there was no place for patriotism anywhere in my troubled young heart. What the hell was Captain America anyway, but just a big, super-powered Boy Scout? I never even bothered to go see the first Captain America movie in theaters, despite being thrilled by the superhero renaissance that had been growing in cinema for the past decade or so. When I did finally see it, on a disc burned by a friend who insisted that it was really good, I was still underwhelmed by Steve Rogers’ willingness to fight for his country and by a Red Skull whom I had hoped would be a bigger, better villain. There was some reconsideration of the Captain’s first outing after I ended up, almost accidentally, catching THE WINTER SOLDIER on the big screen. Hmm, that wasn’t bad, not bad at all. Maybe I should check out that first flick again. Okay, I liked it a little more than I did the first time, and by now we had all seen the whole team together in the first Avengers movie. Hey, Cap might have been starting to grow on me. Considering the lineup of heroes that were going to appear in the third Captain America movie, it wasn’t really a surprise that I was actually looking forward to seeing it. Hell, this was basically a third Avengers flick, with the bonus first appearance of Spider-Man in an actual Marvel movie. If the Captain didn’t do much for me, at least there would be an abundance of other characters I enjoyed (a neat trick which, admittedly, had been my gateway into that second movie as well). So I entered the theater with a large Coke, an even larger bag of buttered popcorn, and a heart full of hopeful anticipation the likes of which I had not built up to since another certain movie where beloved heroes faced off against each other. But I actually enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. Oh sure, the basic theme behind both features was more or less the same: who’s going to hold our would-be protectors accountable for their often destructive actions? However, while BATMAN v SUPERMAN began with a thrilling alternate perspective on those big-budget superhero battles, but subsequently lost its way through the course of the next two-and-a-half hours, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR remained pretty much on target for the same length of time. Both films seemed to want to hurl us back into the morning of September 11, then get us pondering the nature of collateral damage with those images, perhaps unwisely, invoked in our minds. But only one movie made any real attempt to come back and answer that question, all the while never forgetting that its origins were in the comic books – and that some of us still want to see comic book kinda stuff in our superhero movies. Whereas BvS felt like a brimming burrito full of chicken, beef, cheese, grapes and Styrofoam – meaning overstuffed and nonsensical, folks! – CIVIL WAR fills up its lengthy shell with the right ingredients for a satisfying meal. Following the events of the last Avengers movie, and an additional (if not somewhat unnecessary) event in which innocent bystanders are wounded and killed, the United Nations wants our heroes to sign an agreement which would essentially put them under governmental control. With each of them having their own sound reasons, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, War Machine, and Falcon all begin to fall on one side of the argument or the other. As we have come to know these characters over the course of numerous films, being witness to their own unique ups and downs as members of a nonetheless sturdy team (one might even say family), it’s heartbreaking when the conflicts begin to tear them apart. So, once the deeper issues are established – and we get character interactions that actually feel somewhat real – we eventually end up with the superhero brawl that we’ve been promised. And this is one seriously bad-ass brawl. When our heroes line up for their face-off on the tarmac, we get the kind of multi-faceted melee that made comic books so thrilling when we were young. There’s swinging and punching, smashing and blasting, but none of the humanity – or even the humor – is lost amidst the magnificent superhero destruction. I was torn between wanting everyone to be friends again and really wanting to know who was the baddest bad-ass on the block. Then I kinda just wanted Spider-Man to beat the hell out of everyone, all the while wowing over how neat he thought their costumes were. But, in the end, it was the Captain’s movie. Granted, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good without all of his frenemies around him, but, as it went on, I came to a probably not-so-surprising conclusion. I actually like Cap now. Sure, he’s no Tony Stark, nor is he as much fun to watch as Black Widow. His costume wasn’t as amazing as the one worn by Black Panther. He doesn’t have the same smart-ass sense of humor as Ant-Man, and he’s definitely no Spidey. But he wasn’t the same blindly patriotic Boy Scout that I thought he was when I was a child. I would have figured him for the guy that went along with what the government wanted, but . . . he was the first dissenting voice in the crowd. He chose the same side of the argument that I would have been compelled to choose: freedom. I suppose nothing could be as American in spirit as that. Captain America was the rebel this time, and for that he has earned my deepest appreciation. — John E. Meredith So Marvel just released its latest installment in its grand cinematic universe, Civil War. While it is dressed up as a Captain America movie, really it’s more of an Avengers deal. Or rather, it is a storyline that has implications all across the Marvel universe. In the comics, a disaster involving a young superhero team leads to a piece of legislation being drafted called the ‘Superhero Registration Act,’ it states that superheroes would need to reveal their identities and register with the government. Iron Man takes the stance that with the power that heroes wield there needs to be some oversight. Captain America sees this as an infringement on the freedoms of the heroes and puts them in danger. The movie captures these essential points, but in order to make it more relevant to the MCU as a whole, the focus is shifted from hero registration to be more about hero oversight. In the movie, during an operation gone wrong, the Avengers cause some major damage overseas. This prompts a UN resolution that would put the Avengers under global supervision. Basically telling them when and where to intervene. Iron Man, seeing the devastation caused by their actions throughout Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers 2, and any of the other global-level catastrophic events that have occurred in the long history of the MCU decides that oversight is exactly what they need. Captain America disagrees, stating that a political agenda could get in the way of them doing the right thing, and saving people who need saving. Thus starts the conflict that escalates throughout the film. The film does a very good job of showing the deep conflict between the different Avengers, but also tying it in enough to make it a Captain America movie. Cap’s conflict is not only about freedom, but also about protecting Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, from being wrongfully persecuted once he reappears on the scene. Watching Cap do his thing is always awesome and this film delivers more shield shenanigans, more fighting, and more touching moments that show the idealism behind Steve Roger’s decision to remain Captain American even after being thawed. Even with all the great interactions between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, what got me the most excited were the new faces promised in this movie. Boy, does it deliver. We get more Ant-Man, Black Panther, Falcon, and finally, SPIDERMAN! After the rights had been exclusively with Sony for so long, Spider-man is finally back in the Marvel fold. This was important for Civil War specifically, because he represents a shift in the momentum of the War in the comics. Not only is he in this movie, he is spectacular. Tom Holland is the Peter Parker of my dreams. Whereas Toby McGuire never really got a chance to embody teenage parker, and Andrew Garfield always seemed a bit too together to embody the hopeless nerd I remember reading about in my youth, Holland has all the enthusiasm, wit, and awkwardness that embodies Peter Parker. Speaking of Spiderman, I love how the film doesn’t waste time on useless exposition. Spider-man is introduced as already having started his crime-fighting activities. No lab, no radioactive spider. Just a character we all know and love, finally being brought to glorious life. Spider-man is not the only thing, each character, new and old, is given enough screen time to shine without slowing down the narrative. Black Panther is bad ass, Winter Soldier is intimidating as hell, Falcon shows off a bunch of new gadgets, and Scarlet Witch gets to show us what she can really do. The fight scenes manage to use all the character’s powers, even some we don’t see in their own movies. With amazing fight scenes, a compelling narrative about the nature of freedom, justice, and vengeance, and more Marvel heroes per minute than even the Avengers, Civil War delivers on all vectors. Also Spider-man. I thought I knew what a nerdgasm was, but I hadn’t seen Civil War. — Jeffrey Roth Right off the bat, without preamble: I thoroughly enjoyed Captain America: Civil War. It was almost exactly the movie I have wanted to see since I was a scrawny six-year-old standing at that wire comics rack at the grocery trying to decide between Spider-Man or the Hulk while my mom (with great patience) urged me to make a decision. It truly would have been 100% complete for this lifelong Marvel zombie if a couple of fireballs and a shout of “It’s Clobberin’ Time” could have somehow been a part of that airport brawl, but we just have to accept the gifts we’re given. This movie felt like a culmination of everything that we’ve seen since the first Iron Man movie. Sure, officially speaking, it’s the third Captain America movie. But it also served as a sort of Avengers 3 and (to stretch the point) Iron Man 4. But, for the sake of argument, let’s regard this as the Captain America threequel it was designed to be. As such, it was quite successful. While not quite hitting the impossibly high bar set by Winter Soldier (my personal favorite of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to date), it was a straightforward, mind-bogglingly entertaining continuation of the saga of Steve Rogers and his best friend James Buchanan Barnes. All of the players are top-notch and clearly settled into their understanding of their characters as well as their place in the larger tapestry of the MCU. Even the newer players find their footing quickly and enter the fray. It would have been nice to see Nick Fury pop in at some point, but I suppose he’s too deep underground to involve himself in a petty bureaucratic squabble like this, no matter how bombastic it becomes. All that said, I must say I have a nit to pick with the Russo Brothers about this film. What made Winter Soldier such a superior action flick was its unerring, laser-focused adherence to the central plot of the movie. The first moments show us the film’s emotional core in the beginnings of a friendship between Cap and Sam Wilson. Then, with the next breath, our hero is leaping out of a plane at Batroc (Ha! Leaping… at Batroc… Ehh, go look it up) to firmly set the story in motion. It all flows solidly and relentlessly from there. It’s a pitch-perfect action spy thriller, and I’d happily hold it up against nearly any of the Bond movies. Civil War could have worked just as well. Bucky Barnes’ path to redemption isn’t going to be an easy one, as this story clearly illustrates. Luckily, he has a friend for whom the word “stalwart” might very possibly have been coined. And while the stance of Team Iron Man is not without validity and reason, the burgeoning confrontation is every bit as inevitable as it is tragic. The essential thread of the movie hangs upon the fact that all the various differences between Steve and Tony have finally reached critical mass and boiled into what threatens to be the dissolution of their friendship. And the movie follows that thread with unerring accuracy. Well… Almost. Midway through the movie, we find that the Marvel One-Shot “When Tony Met Peter…” — possibly intended for the Blu-ray bonus features — has been gracelessly wedged into the middle of the narrative flow. Quick disclaimer at this point in the review: I love love LOVED Spider-Man’s inclusion into the MCU. I eagerly await Spider-Man: Homecoming. Based upon the generous taste provided by Civil War, Tom Holland looks to be on track to alchemically combine the best elements of Tobey McGuire’s Peter Parker and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man into what has the potential to be the definitive screen version of the Webbed Wonder. And, as a bonus, I was able to rekindle a long-dormant and totally out of character crush on Marisa Tomei, a fire that guttered out about the time she did that weird gorilla heart movie in the middle of Christian Slater’s early-nineties spinout. But looking at the movie Captain America: Civil War, I need to play devil’s advocate. Just how necessary was Spider-Man to the plot of this movie? Or Ant-Man, for that matter? To be sure, the most joyfully entertaining moments of the 20-minute airport brawl wouldn’t have happened without those two characters, but they truly did nothing to serve the central plot of the movie at hand. They were only there to be connective tissue to a wider shared universe. And that’s all well and good. After all, part of the continuing success of the MCU is the audience’s investment in that continuity. In fact, it hearkens back to the wonder of the earliest Marvel Comics (back in the days of the Mighty Bullpen), when it was rare to pick up any comic book with that banner across the top of the cover and not find at least one random character cameo. It was a major part of the appeal of these books throughout the Sixties and into the Seventies. And I think that was the vibe the filmmakers were trying to achieve, which they did. And it was a blast. But at the same time, the modern audience needs its storytelling to remain organic and free of anything that smacks of studio interference in the creative process. For anyone not living in a bomb shelter for the past six months, it was common knowledge that Sony had cut a shared custody deal with Marvel Studios, and we knew Spider-Man would be introduced in this movie. But that introduction felt exactly like it was included because someone at Marvel Studios told the Russos to include it. They handled his inclusion with deft humor and perfect pitch, but it was little more than a sidebar to the story being told. And here’s where I take a moment to make the obligatory comparison to Warner Brother’s recent stinkbomb of a superhero brawler. The biggest flaw of Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice was its incessant preoccupation with planting the seeds of other movies at the sacrifice of the story it was trying to tell (assuming there was one – if there was any exposition in that film, it must have come out of Jesse Eisenberg’s mouth, and unfortunately, this writer was forced into his inner “Happy Place” whenever “Lex Luthor” (quotes intended) walked on the screen. Truthfully, my opinion of Dawn of Justice could have been greatly improved if a bald-headed Clancy Brown had stepped out of the shadows, slapped Eisenberg across the back of the head and said “That’s just about enough, son.” sometime in the third act). Roughly stitched between the flashbacks and bomb blasts and dream sequences inside of dream sequences (honestly!) and manly grunts were promotional reels for the DC Cinematic Universe’s upcoming slate of films. It was sort of like watching trailers in the middle of the movie. At no time did any of these teasers contribute to the storyline in any way other than to make me scratch my head. I just don’t think anyone really wants to see how the sausage gets made, you know? And here we get to the caution flags I want to wave at the Russo brothers as they begin work on Avengers: Infinity War. I’m as eager as anyone else to see what surprises are in store for the epic confrontation with Thanos over the Infinity Stones. But please make sure the story is straight and true. Of course, the sheer scale of the production stirs the temptation to draw together the casts of all the movies, the ABC television series, the myriad Netflix shows, Spidey, and (Fox-willing) maybe even some members of the X-Men into this epic confrontation. All this fan is asking is that any inclusions be absolutely essential to the story being told. Otherwise, it begins to smack of self-indulgence. Civil War is everything I wanted it to be and much, much more. The characters remained true to themselves, the emotional impact was real and raw, and even the digression it seems I spent a sizable portion of this review complaining about resulted in some of this fanboy’s giddiest heart-leaping moments of the entire two-and-a-half hours. It is part and parcel the very stuff of which all summer blockbusters should be made. — Rick Shingler When Batman v Superman flopped, one of the excuses we gave it was that it was too busy, attempting to be too many different things at once. It was a Man of Steel sequel, a Dark Knight Returns remake, a Batman origin, and a Justice League set-up. We told ourselves that nothing could be that many things at once without being a clumsy trainwreck. Then along comes this fucking beautiful thing, Captain America: Civil War. A movie that manages to effortlessly be a Winter Soldier sequel, a Civil War adaptation, a Black Panther origin, and a Spider-Man set-up, drawing off of a dozen movies that came beforehand and managing to be (arguably) the strongest entry in the entire MCU (I SLIGHTLY prefer Guardians of the Galaxy). Was Civil War trying to be too many things at once? Not a fucking chance. It was everything it needed to be. Its storylines and arcs wove together wonderfully, creating an MCU entry with jaw-dropping action, enthralling dialogue, a complex story that simultaneously manages to keep you engaged, and – something that has been grasped at but often missed by most other MCU titles – a powerful finish that can draw an emotional reaction from the audience. This movie is absolutely stupendous. There’s no limit to the positive things that can be said about it and, given the time and an audience with a non-existent threshold for boredom, it’d be tough to stop me from rambling on and on about how riveting Winter Soldier was, how Ant-Man stole every scene he came near, and even how the seemingly DOA Scarlet Witch managed to blossom into one of my favorite characters in Civil War. But this movie, despite being nearly perfect, does have some flaws. In order to properly comb over them, this review will contain UNMARKED SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. If you haven’t seen it (and I highly suggest you see it), save this review until after you have. As I said though, there are a few small flaws in this that I’d like to point out, because focusing on the negative is always more enjoyable and rewarding than gushing over the positive. Besides, Civil War doesn’t have anything to worry about. It’s the second-best film of 2016 with no particularly threatening competition on the horizon, so it shouldn’t mind if I take this moment to take a few jabs at this absolutely stupendous movie. Punch him, Bucky! Punch him LOTS! Once again, SPOILERS. First off, the plot seems incredibly tidy until the very end, at which point we realize that the Sokovia Accords and Bar– ahem, “Colonel” Zemo’s plans coincide at the exact same time with the exact same goal. Functionally, they blend with one another fairly well, each event building off of each other and leading to the core confrontation between the Avengers that ends up being the eponymous civil war. In retrospect however, it all seems very convenient. The Sokovia Accords (which Zemo had no part in orchestrating) created the exact environment between the Avengers’ relationships that would explode the second Zemo’s simultaneous plan to frame the Winter Soldier went into motion. This also includes other occurrences that brought things to a boiling point when they may not have otherwise, such as Sharon’s speech to Steve, and Vision holding Wanda… captive…? Wait… what? VISION HOLDS SCARLET WITCH FUCKING CAPTIVE? WHAT THE ASSING SHIT? We haven’t had any time with Vision since Age of Ultron! All we ever learned about him is that he was an intelligent and pure artificial life form that was worthy enough to lift Thor’s fucking hammer! Since when is he such a fascist piece of shit? This actually brings me to my second issue with Civil War – while it makes a lot of the Team Cap characters seem even more likeable and awesome than before (Falcon and Wanda are better than ever, Hawkeye is back with a vengeance, Widow is one of my favorite characters in the film), it has no qualms with making you despise the Team Iron characters. “He’s wearing it again, isn’t he? Please make him take it off.” On top of instantly turning Vision into a sweater-wearing, boundary-invading, fascist asshole who literally keeps Wanda on house arrest and won’t let her leave, Tony Stark is shifted from his snarky, loveable-if-misguided, anti-authority personality that we’ve all learned to love, to a guild-ridden, bull-headed, confrontational Nazi with no respect for the relationships he’s formed with his friends and teammates, willing to imprison the other Avengers for going against his new ideals. He even blames Falcon for simply evading a shot from Vision that ends up paralyzing Rhodes. Like… seriously? You command an attack that would have sent Sam plummeting to his fucking death, then get offended when he gets out of the way and the same thing happens to your buddy? What the fuck? There are a few more small problems. Crossbones shows up, is pretty cool for all of literally five-to-ten minutes, and then gets blown up. Like, wow, Marvel. You know you’ve been kinda having issues with the longevity of your villains, right? You got Loki, that’s cool. You turned Bucky into a hero, which works. And you finally pick a villain to transcend the last movie he was in, give him a cool new design, having him go toe-to-toe with Cap, and then you kill him? Why? Why not save him? Zemo was an, admittedly, pretty bad villain – the plan was good, but the character himself had no personality and less charisma – so why not give him a henchman? At least have Crossbones flee to return another day. Yeesh. Spider-Man is great – he honestly is. He’s not quite wise-cracking enough for my taste, but it really worked just fine for a younger, more insecure Peter Parker, with 100% less skateboard than the ASM version. My only problem here is that he… definitely seems forced. Tony’s basically just like “Hey, hey guys, you know who should really be in this movie? Spider-Man.” It’s literally that simple. And boom, there’s Spider-Man. They don’t even ever take the opportunity to exploit his innocence for the storyline, having him confused and moving back and forth between Team Cap and Team Iron. He pops in, brings a few chuckles, is part of ONE OF THE BEST FUCKING ACTION SCENES EVER MOTHERFUCKING FILMED, then promptly vanishes and isn’t seen again until the post-credits stinger. I get that the movie was already too long to include much more of him, but his appearance still feels a little bit weak. On a similar note, Black Panther’s character seems… insignificant. He’s cool, he looks cool, his fight scenes are cool, but we really see none of his actual character. His motivation throughout is “kill Winter Soldier.” If he appears in a scene, he’s either thinking about killing Winter Soldier or actively attempting to kill Winter Soldier, or potentially talking about killing Winter Soldier. On a good day, he’s just sulking about the last time he failed to kill Winter Soldier. Besides his thirst for misguided vengeance, both his motivation and his character outright do not exist. I now come to my final nitpick – right at the end. In the final confrontation between Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Iron Man, we learn that Bucky killed Tony’s parents. And here, we reach the most confusing segment of the film: Tony asks Steve if he knew, Steve says he didn’t know it was Bucky, Tony repeats the question, and Steve drops the Wham Line: “Yes.” How did he know that? Did he learn that piece of vital information while he was frozen for SEVENTY MOTHERSHITTING YEARS? Did he learn it in the 20-30 total minutes he had to talk to Bucky? Did Bucky look over and be like “btw bro Hydra killed Tony Stark’s parents and it might or might not have been me”? Did he learn that while he was with S.H.I.E.L.D., during that period of time where they were specifically withholding any kind of useful or sensitive information from Cap because THEY WERE FUCKING HYDRA? WHO THE FUCK WENT TO CAPTAIN AMERICA AND TOLD HIM THAT A HYDRA ASSASSIN KILLED THE STARKS? WHO?! WHOOOOO?!?! Okay, I’m good. But seriously. This whole exchange really feels like it was thrown in just to make Tony go berserk, and it succeeded in doing that, but I just really cannot see any possible way for Steve to have come by this information. The only way I can excuse it is if Bucky had told him, and if Bucky had told him, it follows that he would have also told him that he was the one who did it, just in case it became a problem later. It’s not like there was any reason not to, since Steve would have forgiven him on the spot if he’d said he just got back from pissing on Peggy Carter’s fresh grave after taking a flamethrower to the flowers. Whew. Got all that off my chest. Now, don’t let any of this make you think I didn’t love the hell out of this movie. It was truly an amazing and memorable experience – in fact, it’s because I was unable to stop thinking about it that I came up with the nitpicks above. I loved how Black Widow ended up betraying Tony, and in my head-canon she only joined his side as a double-agent in the first place, to help Steve. I loved every second that Ant-Man was in the film. I loved the slashfic-worthy intensity of Steve and Bucky’s brotherhood. I loved every second that I spent in the theater. It’s a fantastic film with some of the best action I’ve ever seen and a finish that really pulled me in, not to mention the fact that it flawlessly balances drama and humor (I laughed out loud at several points in the theater). If you haven’t seen this – well, first, shame on you for getting this far in the review, I told you there would be spoilers. Second, go watch it as soon as you can. If for no reason other than to see this shithead get blasted through several floors. — Alex Wolfe Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray - Psycho Drive-In September 14, 2016 […] you read our All-Stars Review of Captain America: Civil War, don’t expect a lot of contradictory opinions in this review. Well, a few, but nothing too […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.