Captain America: Civil War Review: The Pieces Fall Into Place

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Captain America: Civil War Review: The Pieces Fall Into Place

Captain America: Civil War is the thirteenth entry into Marvel's Cinematic Universe. As such it comes in with a great deal of on-screen canon behind it, ranging from the first Iron Man film back in 2008 to last year's Ant-Man. By this time most of the characters are familiar and we know the vibe of them and how they fit together. This film could as readily have been another Avengers film, but it was Captain America's turn to get a lead credit. Civil War is as solid of a team-up film as we've seen to date and likely a better film than Marvel's The Avengers (though that first of the Avenger's films will remain a watershed moment due to it successfully having a full team really succeed at the box office). And it vastly restores the faith in the idea after Age of Ultron turned out so profoundly mediocre.

It's been a while since the events of Age of Ultron, and the team has settled into more of a regular routine fighting bad guys and generally saving the day. Unfortunately when the team is in Lagos to prevent a biological weapon from being stolen a building is blown up accidentally by an energy blast from Scarlet Witch. That, compounded by the damage caused by the Avengers in Sokovia (yea, they were defending it from Ultron, but it's pointed out that it was technology created by Tony Stark), causes the governments of the world to demand that the Avengers submit to United Nations supervision and approval. That interference causes a deep rift between the team members. One the one side Captain America believes it's an intrusion into their liberties (he sees it as a soldier), and on the other is Tony Stark who is horrified to realize the damage their actions has caused – he even comments "victory at the expense of the innocent is no victory." From there the tension begins to build.

A bomb goes off during a multi-national conference which was to ratify the Avenger's Accords, killing the conference leader (who also happens to be the Wakandan king) T'Chaka. As it turns out, his son, T'Challa is also the hero The Black Panther. The explosion only serves to drive home the need for the Accords as Cap decides to break off and hunt down the bomber.

Before long the lines have gone from disagreement to full scale war (Civil War, get it?). Ant-Man gets pulled into the mix, as does Spider-Man. Newly released from exile in the halls of Sony Studios, the character has been released back for use by the Marvel films in exchange for some of the Marvel characters to appear in future Spider-Man films. With Tom Holland in the suit, he stands out in most scenes he's in. During his relatively few scenes and perhaps only 15 minutes of screen time, he already establishes himself as far better suited to the role than Andrew Garfield ever was over two full films.

It's interesting that this film's story should occur so soon after the dumpster fire that was Batman v. Superman. In large part both films wrestle with some of the same points: responsibility when fighting a greater evil, responsibility for the deaths of non-combatants. The struggle between duty of individuals as part of a larger society and to be governed versus individual liberty and freedoms. Two key characters in a pitched very personal battle. So many of the same threads occur in both films, but where in BvS there was little empathy between the audience and the characters, here we've had 8 years to get to know most of these characters over those dozen prior films. Had this been the first film to be made, the connection between audience and characters would have been far less at play.

DC still generally carries the generally wholesome goodness that had been an aspect of so much of the comic's history. When conflicts are done, everyone hugs and it's good to go. With Marvel, things that break tend to stay broken. Friendships and trusts betrayed are not something that will be able to be patched over in the same kind of hug-it-out kind of way.

Solid performances go all around for the most part, however Hawkeye has really become a secondary character, with whom it seems that the writers barely know what to do with. Similarly Black Widow gets less attention and respect than Black Panther who for all of his relatively brief time on screen in this installment effectively steals the attention from everyone else. With some deft shorthand, it's already established that he has a deep backstory, something that over the many films since her introduction, Widow hasn't been able to be given. Now we're getting a Black Panther movie in a few years (which is great), but still not a single Black Widow film to be even whispered of (which isn't so hot).

It's a solid hit and Marvel will make bank on it once again. It'd just be nice if there was more depth to the women who've been part of the mix for so long.

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About Bill Watters

Games programmer by day, geek culture and fandom writer by night. You'll find me writing most often about tv and movies with a healthy side dose of the goings-on around the convention and fandom scene.
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