Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Beautifully Hangs Up The Shield

Captain America: Civil War movie review
Photo Credit: Captain America: Civil War / Walt Disney Studios

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is arguably one of Marvel fan's favorite films of all time. For the next installment of Captain America's franchise, the series' fate rested on hardcore hype. After the amazing press tour and anticipated excitement this year, Winter Soldier solidly has some tough competition against Captain America: Civil War.

The old foe known as Hydra takes a backseat as a new question looms: should the Avengers face political consequences when innocent bystanders are killed and countries' security feel threatened as a result of their missions? 

U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross and the United Nations believe so. The Avengers are presented with an Accords, a document which the world government control their missions and dole out punishments if they step out of line. To not sign the Accords forces the Avengers into retirement or face charges as criminals if they act out.

Stark believes they should sign to stop more senseless deaths, but Rogers fears how much of their liberty they'll lose if they do. The line drawn in the sand between the Avengers is much deeper than who's team we are on. (Though I am Team Cap all the way.) This is just the start of the brewing feuds. Woven into their dissension are motivations dealing with vengeance, betrayal, justice, regret, fear, grief and responsibility.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo unite a lot of amazing combatants to make this civil war come to life. Familiar faces like Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, and Bucky keep the battle tied to previous Marvel movies, but also fresh by adding (fairly recent) newbies like Vision, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Spiderman, Ant-Man, and Rhodey. We'd assume with so many personalities squaring off, the freedom to explore who they are would be limited. But that's not the case.

Every character moves somebody else forward either to victory or demise. How the teams form plays against the action scenes and also raise the stakes for certain characters in peril. The airport showdown, in particular, provides a lot of laughs to see all these new superheroes battle it out, but it's also so creative with how they pull out all of the stops against each other - not necessarily to kill but because the dynamics are so dysfunctional (like people on a reality show who talk over each other and in confessionals about their problems but not to each other's faces). The Russos pulled maneuvers out of their hat which was just plain cool. You'll find yourself more invested than just in Roger and Stark butting heads, and that is pretty awesome.

Though the film toys about which team we're on, other villains heighten our sense of whether the Accords is needed or will do more harm than good. Zemo, a bereft war operative enacts revenge for what happened to his homeland Sovokia. Many have said that he doesn't offer much, but I thought he adds a lot of parallels to the Black Panther's agenda and corrects his course before it goes too far down the wrong road. The intricate story of Cap versus Iron Man, Zemo vs the Avengers, and the mix of political issues is full of action, humor, heart, and never loses its ability to entertain.

The film comes down to family: old and new, deceased and reborn, lost and rediscovered. Stark and Rogers are head the Avengers clan, and skeletons in their closets affect how the group moves forwards.

Tony *brush it off* Stark becomes a more conflicted leader, and in doing so, Roger's side of the struggle feels a little less intimate than how we've seen him before. He is not entirely missing in action, but Stark's obstacles are focused on more strongly for a fair portion of the film. Even if Rogers and Bucky's friendship successfully pummels our feels into a pulp, a more personal epilog to one of his other important relationship with Peggy would've made Rogers story more touching and complete. Her death was explored too quickly and delivered for laughs rather than something heartfelt. Chris Evans is wonderful as always (as is Robert Downey Jr,) but the old chapters Cap closes and the new ones he opens feels less detailed than the attention he's given in The First Avenger and Winter least until we're near the end of the line.

With so many superhero films released already, and Marvel making more films well into the future, it's hard to say Captain America: Civil War is the best there ever was or will be. It's too tall of an order and to each their own. But it's even harder to find a movie entertaining on its own, builds upon the comic book universe we (might) already know, and launch the next era of multiple franchises. The cast, story, and action is all great. There's nothing else to say except: I could watch it all day.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Captain America: Civil War? What are your thoughts?

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