Captain America: Civil War Spoiler-Free Movie Review

Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War
Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Marvel Studios

"Yeah, this is definitely one of my favorite comic book movies." That's basically what I thought right when the credits began to roll for Anthony and Joe Russo's Captain America: Civil War. Will a second viewing make my minor criticisms play a bigger role and open my eyes to new critiques? Of course, but right now, I have nothing but overwhelming love for the first chapter in Marvel Studios' Phase Three, and it's really tough to believe that any new criticisms will drastically change my overall opinion of the film.

The clash between Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) feels earned - it's something that has been building for quite some time. It's just as much of an Age of Ultron sequel as it is a Winter Soldier sequel. Obviously, you shouldn't go in expecting to see a faithful adaptation of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Civil War storyline. Doing a direct adaptation wouldn't be a good idea since the Marvel Cinematic Universe is obviously a completely different place, a place which has been shaped by very different events and is populated by different characters.

I would have liked to see a little more of an elaborate debate between Tony and Steve (Steve can make a lot of valid points, but Tony's fear of something worse is understandable, too), but for the most part, the conflict feels like an organic follow-up to previous events. The subject being debated may change as the story moves forward, but it still remains focused on these two being at odds.

It does feel like they try to talk it out and avoid the worst case scenario (i.e. smacking each other around), but in the end, it makes sense why they start slugging it out. You may end up strongly disagreeing with one of them in the final conflict, but hey, no one is perfect, right? And, by now, it should come as no surprise that both actors handle each scene very well.

Whether it's a lighthearted moment, a stern situation, or a heartbreaking development, you can always count on Evans and Downey Jr. to deliver.

How is Tom Holland's Spider-Man, you ask? The kid's absolutely awesome. Everything from the character's awkward and humorous personality to the impressive physical abilities just feels like Spider-Man. Even having a noticeably younger (and attractive) Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is addressed in an amusing way. His addition to the movie feels natural to me, too. In context, it makes sense why Iron Man would seek the young hero out. Spidey definitely brings a lot of laughs and entertaining action to the movie as well. It was an excellent way to sell me on this new version of the wall-crawler and make feel more optimistic about Spider-Man: HomecomingAnd speaking about being optimistic about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther is terrific. Everything you could want from the character is on display here. He's a badass combatant who can hold his own with the best. He's intelligent and composed, yet fearsome when he needs to be. And that costume design? It's so good! He's not forced into the story, either. His addition is completely justified and even brings more emotional weight to the story.

Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) isn't what many comic fans will expect him to be. He may not be one of the film's highlights, but in the end, he proves to be a strong addition to the story. At first, his narrative plays out in a pretty straightforward manner - some mystery here, some evilness there; nothing truly special. Nothing about it really leaves that strong of an impression, especially since everything else going on is just so good. However, as the movie races towards its conclusion, the character becomes far more interesting and it doesn't boil down to yet another boss battle and a countdown clock. Seeing as the foe had plenty of time to prepare and put his plan into action, I didn't find his elaborate scheme tough to swallow and there is some solid emotional payoff. Plus, I'm really happy with the way his story ended.

That's all I can say without spoiling it!

The rest of the cast is great. Captain America's closest allies (Sebastian Stan's Bucky; Anthony Mackie's Falcon) and the supporting characters like Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) each have memorable roles.Yeah, obviously not all of them are going to have huge roles, but they each manage to leave an impression and don't feel like they're there just for the sake of having yet another Marvel character present. Juggling this many characters couldn't have been easy, but I think they're put to good use.

Captain America: Civil War has the best superhero action I've ever seen in a live-action movie. Seriously. The big brawl at the airport was pure, non-stop joy - I couldn't stop smiling as I watched all of the hero vs. hero action unfold. It's a tremendous amount of fun and absolutely raised the bar for action in superhero movies. That's not the only great action scene, either. Obviously, it wouldn't be possible for the film to go even bigger and more exciting than the awesome airport sequence, so it never tries to. Instead, it follows that spectacular scene (can you tell I love it yet?) with a final battle that's small in scale and far more intimate. It all boils down to an intense, personal conflict. It doesn't deliver the same kind of high as the airport fight, but it's not trying to; it's going for a more gripping encounter and I'd say they pulled it off.

That scene had me engaged just as much as everything that came before it. The first act is full of more hectic action that relies on solid choreography and brutal hits. Unfortunately, there's pretty heavy use of shaky cam during these encounters and that does sometimes take away from just how stunning the brawls could have been. They still manage to impress, but the constant moving is definitely noticed. 

Believe it or not, my expectations for Captain America: Civil War weren't through the roof - my interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just isn't nearly as high as it once was. I thought this film would focus too much on building interest in what's to come (i.e. Infinity War) and it would have a predictable yet entertaining story. I went in expecting to have a pretty good time (Marvel Studios has certainly proved they can make fun films), but instead I was totally blown away. The plot may not be full of mind-blowing twists, but it's still so effectively told and it feels like a nice departure from the standard superhero stories we've come to expect. The conflict feels earned, the writing and performances are great, and it's overflowing with fan service. I still love you very much, Guardians of the Galaxy, but Captain America: Civil War is my new favorite Marvel Studios movie and it re-energized my interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it simply has it all and now I'm left looking forward to watching it all over again.

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Katzman, Gregg. "Captain America: Civil War Spoiler-Free Movie Review." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/captain-america-civil-war-spoiler-free-review-4043424. Katzman, Gregg. (2016, August 29). Captain America: Civil War Spoiler-Free Movie Review. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/captain-america-civil-war-spoiler-free-review-4043424 Katzman, Gregg. "Captain America: Civil War Spoiler-Free Movie Review." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/captain-america-civil-war-spoiler-free-review-4043424 (accessed December 15, 2017).