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Review: "Captain America: Civil War" is nearly everything we hoped for
With the absolute disaster that was "Batman v. Superman," it's nice to have another Marvel movie to take the bad blood out of my mouth.
Directed by the Russo brothers (who also directed "The Winter Soldier"), Civil War is the third installment in the acclaimed "Captain America" series of movies. The movie picks up where "Avengers: Age of Ultron" left off, with the team two Avengers (Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, Black Widow, and Captain America) in pursuit of Crossbones (Frank Grillo), who is after a biological weapon. The team saves the day, but the operation goes south, as Crossbones detonates a suicide bomb that takes innocent civilians with him.
This leads to an international crisis that downplays everything The Avengers have accomplished by focusing on the innocent civilians that got caught in the crossfire during their heroe-ing. The world wants to have The Avengers held accountable fr their actions, but their solution is far from perfect.
Under the proposed Sokovia Accords, The Avengers would need the approval of an international body that would oversee and control them. Given that in the last "Captain America" installment, the government turned out to be Hydra, it is understandable why the Cap wouldn't be thrilled about The Avengers being overseen by a governing body.
The movie is very character-driven, which I like. We see why Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) wants the Accords ratified, as he is confronted early on by the mother of a boy killed as a direct result of The Avengers's intervention in Sokovia. Captain America sees the Accords as impractical, as once they prevent The Avengers from resolving time-sensitive crises (which is actuated in practice when he discovers more Winter Soldiers).
Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) also gets more characterization, which allowed me to get invested in the character like never before. I was actually rooting for his survival, despite the atrocities he committed in the past.
The only element that did not work was the villain. Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) is not a name I will remember anytime soon; I had to look up his name, that's so little of an impression he made on me. His function in the narrative is interesting (he references how villains have tried to rip apart The Avengers before and failed, believing that the only way to destroy the team was to have them rip each other apart), and his motivation is solid (his family was killed in Sokovia during "Age of Ultron"). I also like this actor, but he is no comic book villain. I much would have preferred that Zemo have traded places with Crossbones. Crossbones was a fun villain with character, who died before the movie could get proper mileage out of him.
The fight between Team Cap and Team Iron Man is perhaps the strongest part of this movie. It is not only a visual spectacle, but it is hilarious. The Russo brothers have taken advantage of how each characters works off each other (or lack thereof). The old Avengers are as amazed at the power and quips as the newbies as we are, leading to some great one liners (my favorite is Bucky's observation "everyone has a gimmick now").
Tom Holland works great as Spider-man, as does Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther. Despite what many review sites have been claiming, Holland's Spider-man is integrated into the narrative organically, and it works. Sure, he is new to the scene, but so is Black Panther and Ant Man, who are in the narrative for a specific purpose other than to set up more Marvel movies; Captain America and Iron Man need help so they start taking in new recruits.
If you got thus far, you're in spoiler territory. No, no major superhero dies, which is a shame. I came in fully expecting the Cap to get the ax, but Marvel didn't have the conviction to pull the trigger. This might cause problems for them down the line, as they'll have to do something with the Cap, and Chris Evans is a very expensive actor whose contract will be up for renewal in the near future. During a year where DC killed Superman, it would've been nice for the MCU to show their rivals how to properly kill off a superhero.
In all honesty, I thought Downey's Iron Man was on his way out. During the conclusion of the final fight sequence of "Civil War," (Iron Man vs. the Cap and Bucky), Captain America beats Iron Man with the sharp end of his shield, planting it firmly in his chest, and damaging his nuclear core. The Cap stops before he goes too far, leaving Iron Man's core flickering. I fully expected Iron Man to die, given the beating that he took, but the movie later cuts to him alive, hours later.
In all honesty, I wouldn't mind it if Marvel gave Iron Man a dirt nap. He's arguably caused more harm than good (he is prone to creating destructive technology), and the last two Iron Man movies frankly weren't all that good.
We will see where the future takes the MCU. One thing is for certain, if Marvel wants to keep adding all these new IPs to their Universe, at one point they will have to grow some teeth and kill some heroes off. They are doing phenomenally now, but to do so, they need to change up their lineup.