Note: I’ll be using a few abbreviations in this review. They can be found above the movie poster in parentheses.
Another note: This is going to be a long review. Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle.
Last note: This review is not particularly refined, but I wanted to have thoughts up here while the movie was still fresh in my mind.
Remember how excited I was to see the second Avengers movie last year? How I had been waiting since the release of the first film with such eager anticipation… What I didn’t mention was how predictably disappointed I was, I think. Even after the original Avengers, I knew the second one wouldn’t live up to the hype. Still, I was super duper hyped, maybe the most hyped I’ve been for a movie in a long time.
UNTIL Disney/Marvel announced Phase Three. And then I knew that I was just mega-super-ultra excited for Captain America: Civil War (CACW) for a couple of primary reasons (to simplify my excitement for you all):
- Captain America is my favorite Avenger (not least because I love Chris Evans) and I’ve loved his movies.
- Captain America: Winter Soldier (CAWS) was intensely good, and I was really glad to see that the Russo Brothers, who gifted us with that great movie, were returning for this movie because-
- I was so tired of Joss Whedon for Age of Ultron (AOU) and trust the Russo Brothers to do better than Whedon did with his second chance.
- When the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was first established, one of the most prominent comic book storylines that I heard about was the Civil War storyline, so I was thrilled that they were going to bring it to the MCU.
TL;DR This was definitely better than Age of Ultron and was a lot of fun to watch. Me being me, of course, this movie was not perfect, and I’ll talk about that. As per usual, this review will have spoilers below the trailer; before the trailer, there may be information from previous Marvel films and promotional materials.
I have a lot of complaints, but I want to talk about what I really loved about this movie!
Spider-Man was great. I’ll admit that I was one of the people who was upset when Andrew Garfield was replaced. I love him as an actor, and I liked his portrayal of Peter Parker. (I liked Tobey McGuire’s, too, until that last movie… which wasn’t his fault, but I mean…) However, I thought it made a lot of sense to cast an actual teenager to play teenage Peter Parker. I will admit, also, that I was pretty biased against Tom Holland being cast, I think because the photos that I saw of him were of a really young Holland, young teens for sure. I thought that Marvel had gone a bit far on the younger casting, and was not sure how I felt about essentially a middle school child being Spider-Man. But Holland was great! You really get this sense of Peter being a high schooler, nervous around the other Avengers, nervous about his Aunt May finding out he’s Spider-Man, just… nails that teenage nervousness. He’s still pretty charismatic but in that Peter Parker way. One of my big issues with Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker was that I was not convinced that an “awkward geek” would be as charming as Andrew Garfield was.
I also liked that the suit we see in the trailer is provided by Tony Stark, because honestly, I never bought the story that Peter Parker made his suit on his own.
Black Panther was great. Oh man, I think that T’challa’s first (hero) appearance was almost more anticipated than Spider-Man’s, at least by the people at my screening, judging by the applause and cheers for each character. While I do wish there was a little more depth to his character in this movie, I know he is getting his own stand-alone film really soon, so I was happy for the characterization that we got in CACW. Black Panther is such a great character, and I think really needed in the MCU. As a prince, he brings this dignity to the Avengers that Thor doesn’t quite bring because T’challa took his mantle more seriously than Thor did initially, and that’s because being the Black Panther is not a superpower that was thrust upon him. It is a royal duty that he had to earn.
It was funny! I laughed a lot watching this, and I didn’t feel burdened by an obligation to laugh like I did with AOU. (Looking at those one-line zingers, Joss…) Marvel movies are always really funny, especially because they cast some great comedians to play our heroes, and sometimes I take that for granted, so I wanted to be sure to let you guys know that I got lots of giggles and chuckles in while watching.
Obviously, seeing so many Avengers on screen, at once, interacting with each other was amazing. There’s a lot of great banter because, again, half our characters are pretty snarky. Sam (Falcon) and Bucky (Winter Soldier) bickering as the two of Steve’s (Captain America’s) best friends. “I hate you,” Sam says pretty directly to Bucky. “We’re still friends, right?” “Depends on how hard you hit me.” Natasha (Black Widow) and Clint (Hawkeye), who are no longer romantically-linked (maybe) are questioning if they are still BSF – best spies forever – given that they stand on opposite sides of the Civil War.
Before this review gets too long, though, I do need to talk about some of my beef with this movie…
I hate this shaky style of shooting action sequences. I get that it means action sequences don’t have to be as carefully edited and CGI-ed but it gives me such a huge headache trying to follow these close shots of shaky action. Is it a realistic? Sure. But I am not at a movie to see what it would’ve looked like if I filmed the Avengers fighting. I would be so happy if they would just pull back the camera and let us take in a steady scene. The people are moving; the camera/frame doesn’t need to track that movement.
The Bechdel Test gets epically failed. There are basically only three female characters in this movie: Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Sharon Carter. They don’t speak to each other EVER throughout the entire film, I think. They are barely even in scenes together. (The closest we come to pass is when one of T’challa’s female associates tells Natasha to move. Literally by saying “Move”.) This is a little bit atrocious, and I’m really disappointed with it. In fact…
As per usual, the romantic subplots were awful. Look, the only MCU ship I’ve boarded is Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Every other romantic storyline is pretty poorly done, to the point where I think they are just distracting. The ones explored in CACW are canon according to the comic, but I don’t think they were done well at all. They seem very baseless and, honestly, if you’re not going to take the effort to show the build-up, then don’t bother at all, Marvel! UGH. They weren’t completely out of no where (like my big issue with AOU) but they still weren’t particularly good, and I’ll discuss why in the spoiler section.
Poor. Villain. Development. Marvel has a consistent problem with not giving us very compelling villains. We don’t sympathize with them, they are flat and one-dimensional, they seem to only exist to do some bad thing that our heroes have to thwart. (With the notable exception of our favorite Marvel villain, Loki.) The villain in this movie starts to be a bit sympathetic, but we don’t really understand his motivation. What sets him apart from other people who suffer similar tragedies that lead him down his dark path. How did he come across the resources and the luck that get him so far as to be the bad guy for what is, essentially, an Avengers movie? We really don’t have any idea, actually. There’s nothing really to him. There is a point in the film where Black Panther tells him not to allow revenge to run his life, as he has let revenge run his own. (I was glad that he acknowledges that his character also lacked depth because of this single-mindedness.) I just want Marvel to get a little better with their storytelling as far as making us really care about the villain.
A lot of Iron Man angst for a Captain America movie, even about Civil War. This was Annie’s biggest problem with the movie, but we explore so much of Tony Stark’s past and his angst and his struggle, and I understand that one can argue he’s the primary antagonist to primary protagonist Steve Rogers, so maybe this is Marvel’s way of finally giving us a good villain to match Loki. There won’t be any more Iron Man movies, but it did seem like a lot of Tony Stark angst, even more than Steve Rogers angst. You can argue that Tony Stark’s angst fuels the Civil War more than Steve’s, but then… maybe don’t make it a Captain America film. It’s in the title, folks. Make it another Avengers movie. Make it an Iron Man movie. We definitely do a deeper dive with Tony’s feelings than we do with Steve’s.
Also, I think it’s accurate to see that the sides are chosen based on what leader people will rally behind. I am #TeamCap because I believe in Steve Rogers, but ideologically, I think that there should be oversight on
superheroes mutants enhanced humans. However, as far as the story and the leader, it’s much easier to be on Captain America’s side because Tony Stark primarily wants checks on superpowers because of the devastating effects of HIS power in particular. And I guess he knows that he can’t be controlled unless they are all being controlled. But do you think Ant-Man thinks supers should operate independently, or Spider-Man thinks the United Nations should be in charge of the Avengers? Maybe, maybe not. But ultimately, Ant-Man is on Team Cap because he is recruited to that team, and the same goes for Spider-Man. I liked this about the movie, in fact; the following of a leader because that is the side you start on, not necessarily because you agree with their ideology.
I have a lot more to say about this movie, which I did really enjoy and cannot wait to see again. I am also really excited to see the rest of the Phase Three films, as we have been introduced to characters that we have only begun to get to know, like T’challa and Everett Wood. But there will be spoilers coming up, and they will be after the trailer.
Captain America: Civil War will be in theaters May 6 in the United States and is out now in most international theaters.
OKAY LEMME TALK ABOUT STEVE AND SHARON. I hated this so much. I know Steve Rogers is romantically linked to Sharon Carter in the comics, but for goodness sake, he buries Peggy and discovers that Sharon was her niece, and then they kiss? And it’s supposedly a long time coming, even though we have not really seen this build-up onscreen? (I am assuming it’s not on TV, since I don’t watch any Marvel on TV.) (EXCEPT AGENT CARTER) Marvel has to stop with thinking they can meet us less-than-halfway with these storylines, and especially romantic subplots that don’t add to their current story.
For example, I didn’t really love Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Vision’s awkward budding romance, but at least you see the build! And I know that Wanda and Vision get married in the comics, but this was still a little bit awkward. Personally, I was weirded out by this because 1) Vision doesn’t seem like a character who really would ever need or want romance or love in his life? Biologically speaking, he really doesn’t need affection, and I mean, he has an artificial intelligence for a brain? I don’t know about what kind of programming Jarvis had, though, so maybe, but 2) Wanda is young, and we know this because Steve and Tony call her a “kid”. I mean, is she a teenager or something, what the heck?? She’s not as young and bright-eyed as Peter Parker but she is one of the younger Avengers, apparently? I don’t know, it was a little weird, but I appreciate the effort to try to build this up.
I don’t to see anymore Sharon Carter but I don’t think I’ll get that wish. (Nothing against you, Emily VanCamp.)
Also, just so you all can rest easy, no major characters die. I know people were speculating that Cap or Rhodey (War Machine) would die in this movie, but neither of them do. Of course, scores of civilians die, and that’s part of why we are in the mess we are in to begin with, eh?
I have a lot more thoughts on this movie, but I want to push this review up and take the time to think some more, maybe rewatch it so that everything can sink in more.
Are you going to watch Captain America: Civil War in theaters?
Who’s your favorite Avenger and/or character in this movie?
What do you think the missing Avengers (Thor, Hulk) were doing during the events of this movie???