REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War Poster
Theatrical Release Poster – Marvel Studios – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The following is a spoiler-free review of Captain America: Civil War, a Anthony & Joe Russo film. The reviewed film was seen in IMAX 3D.

This is a spoiler-free review, and the review thus won’t go into anything else than what is in the trailers. If, however, I need to mention a location, plot-point, or a character that could spoil something in the film, then I’ll only hint at it.

I’ve wanted to see this story on the big screen for a very, very long time. It’s the one story I’ve always wanted them to make into a film, ever since I first read the comic book crossover from 2007 (Mark Millar’s Civil War). But to be perfectly honest with you, Captain America: Civil War is so much better than the comic book.

Captain America: Civil War sees Captain America (played by Chris Evans) and the ‘new’ Avengers-team, which assembled at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, fail at protecting lives on a mission in Lagos, Nigeria. This is ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’ for the United Nations, as they’ve finally had enough. Superheroes need to be controlled: superhero activity has to be regulated.

This divides our heroes – especially Captain America and Iron Man (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) – and the situation reaches a boiling point when the Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan), Captain America’s old friend, returns to wreak havoc. Slowly, but surely, the ideological differences evolve, and the two central characters in the Avengers finally battle it out.

Okay. Captain America: Civil War is amazing. It is absolutely impressive from start to finish. Marvel Studios gave the Russo brothers the reins to the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Joss Whedon left after Avengers: Age of Ultron was completed, and it might be the best decision they’ve made since they chose Robert Downey, Jr. to play Tony Stark/Iron Man.

The Russo brothers made an intriguing political thriller with Captain America: Winter Soldier, and this follow-up film is just as good, even if it is rather different. Here they’ve been given every single Marvel Studios character to work with, but the film never loses sight of what it is supposed to be. This isn’t really ‘Avengers 2.5’, even though it highlights most Avengers-members. Captain America: Civil War is a superhero crossover centered around Steve Rogers and his friendships.

And in this ‘versus-style’ superhero film, you definitely understand why our heroes are at odds with one another. Their motivations are very clear: Stark has his reasons, and Rogers has his. I thought both sides made sense, and there really isn’t a wrong answer here. You get to hear out both sides in great scenes that add to not just Rogers and Stark, but also characters like Rhodey (played by Don Cheadle), Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie), and the Vision (played by Paul Bettany).

By now you should have gotten the idea that there are a lot of characters in this film, and I went into the film fearing that the many characters would take away from the plot. I was worried that the story would feel convoluted, or that the Russos maybe couldn’t handle the astounding number of heroes that are on-screen in Captain America: Civil War. But I am so happy to state that all of the characters work really well in this film.

The three standout characters in this film are Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Ant-Man. Now, we already knew these three would be in the film, but we didn’t know how many scenes they would be in. Now, I didn’t count every scene they were in, but I felt like Ant-Man/Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) was in less scenes than Spider-Man/Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) was, which was somewhat of a surprise for me.

Black Panther/T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) is a completely new character for the majority of audiences worldwide, and people are going to be shocked by how much they like this character. Black Panther is played perfectly by Chadwick Boseman, and I can’t wait to see him in more films. Black Panther already feels like a member of the Avengers.

Black Panther and Spider-Man were two of the standout characters, and the actors that portray them do a really great job here. But my favorite performance of the regular Avengers in the film comes from Robert Downey, Jr.. Evans is great too, but I don’t think that Downey has been this good since the original Iron Man-film.

Now, there is one character that I can’t mention by name, seeing as the trailers haven’t really highlighted him at all. But Daniel Brühl’s character plays an important part in the film. His character is very manipulative, and I liked what they did with the character. But he isn’t memorable really, which is a shame. That’s pretty much all I can say about him in a spoiler-free review.

But the best thing about this film is the fact that it contains the best action sequence ever put to screen in a superhero blockbuster film. You are going to hear and read this a lot, but there is a thrilling 17-minute long ‘airport scene’ in this film. You’ve been shown glimpses of the sequence in the trailers, but you have no idea what you are going to get with it.

It is the single-most impressive sequence I’ve ever seen in a superhero film, it is one of the best action sequences I’ve seen in years (maybe ever), and it is every superhero-fan’s dream. Every single character gets a moment or two to shine, and then some of them team-up for awesome stunts and such. It is a breathtaking sequence, which was shot completely in IMAX. You’re going to love it.

Now, I clearly love the film. I’ll even go as far as saying that it probably is my second favorite film yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, no movie is perfect, and there are some things that bothered me a little bit. Still, though, they are more nitpicky issues than real problems with the film.

One of the things that Marvel Studios haven’t been able to do is to tie a specific theme to every character, and there aren’t a lot of truly great musical scores in the Marvel Studios films that we’ve seen so far. Henry Jackman’s score for Captain America: Civil War is forgettable, underwhelming, and only really stands out positively in the aforementioned airport-scene.

The only other thing that bothered me could be called somewhat of a spoiler, so don’t read this paragraph if you want to be completely spoiler-free going in, but I thought there was an element that felt a little bit forced and awkward. There is a romance in the film, and it felt kind of sudden and forced to me. But I won’t say anymore than that.

All too often, I see people leaving the theater right when the movie ends. This is a Marvel Studios-film, and, of course, we get something during the credits. There are two scenes here: one during the credits, and one at the very end. I won’t say anything about what you see in these scenes, but they are definitely worth the wait.

9.5 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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