Captain America: Civil War Review
Last night we sat down to a Captain America triple bill, which closed out with a midnight showing of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – the much anticipated third instalment that is set to “change the MCU forever”. Below you will find our spoiler-heavy review of Captain America: Civil War.
First it should be said that in the run up to the titular film, we enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier much more this time, than we did on our first viewings of these films upon their release. There was something great about revisiting the films all in quick succession and getting fully into that Cap/Allies state of mind. It made the whole marathon very enjoyable indeed. It also placed us in a great Bucky-focused mindset, which is the perfect field of vision to have when going into Captain America: Civil War.
This is because, despite what the trailers might have you believe, the majority of Captain America: Civil War (particularly the first two thirds or so of the film) is actually about Bucky, far more than it is about the political standoff between Steve and Tony.
This is no bad thing, as we adore James Buchanan Barnes and this is a Captain America sequel after all. It just leaves you feeling a little misled by the film’s title and trailer. Only in the later legs of the film does the conflict ramp up and the civil war erupt (yet even then, with a light-hearted approach).
One key weakness for the film is certainly its villain. Despite Daniel Bruhl being a fine actor, the film uses his character Zemo (who will undoubtedly go on to become Baron Zemo) only as a vapid plot mechanism. Much like Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zemo only exists to bring the titular heroes to blows. Both Lex and Zemo are too weak to take these titans on alone, so they manipulate our heroes and heroines into the fighting one another.
In fact, Captain America: Civil War shares quite a few similarities with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, many of those being things that critics cried about as being pitfalls in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, yet, hypocritically, the same critics do not seem to mind these devices within Captain America: Civil War. As well as the above similarity, both films have a major fight happen purely on the basis of a misunderstanding (T’Challa and Bucky here), both films have an opening parental flashback scene that exists only to give extra emotional impact in the film’s final act, and both films fail to truly kill off anyone (although Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice came much closer and had more bravado with this).
We expected a big death (other than Peggy Carter) in Captain America: Civil War that would “change the MCU forever,” but despite several teases at character deaths (one in particular provoked tears from some audience members sitting around us), Marvel completely lacked the courage to execute a single one.
In the comics Captain America dies. Despite Cap being our favourite character, we feel that the inclusion of this (or of any important death) is one of the key components that was missing from making Captain America: Civil War a truly great film.
T’Challa proves a worthwhile addition to the MCU. While not a dazzling character by any means (bar one fight scene, in which he pulls of a ridiculously impressive leg move) he certainly serves to add something new and unseen to the MCU. Bucky proves as intriguing and cool as ever, both in dialogue and in battle (with one particular motorcycle spin being our highlight there).
It is Spider-man who is one of the true highlights of Captain America: Civil War. Tom Holland quickly proves that he is the right choice for both Peter Parker and Spider-man. His youth adds a certain naivety to the character and his and Tony’s interplays are exceptionally fun. Finally, has someone got Spider-man right. All of his scenes left us wanting more and now have us looking forward to Spider-man: Homecoming (a word which, notably, Zemo used a few times in this film, when commanding Bucky).
When it comes to Steve and Tony themselves, Steve remains as engaging as ever, with one of our favourite moments being when he rolls a tear while carrying Peggy’s coffin. Whereas Robert Downey Jr does a solid job of making Tony comes across as the misunderstood antagonist who is desperately trying to make everything right, yet who fails through his own brash decisions.
One of Marvel’s biggest flaws is their tendency to rely too heavily on humour, which can detract from the seriousness of the story that they are trying to tell. Ant-Man’s inclusion in this film ups the humour-count and, for us, pushes things just a little too far. During the large airport battle between the two teams, Ant-Man flits between being tiny and being giant-sized, all the while cracking jokes.
We feel that lowering the humour-count would have served Captain America: Civil War much better. Yes, it served to have our audience shouting in glee, unable to contain their mirth, but given the dark nature of the conflict between Cap and Iron Man, we feel that this film warranted a little more seriousness, which would have served to add more weight and gravity to the dispute.
We really enjoyed Captain America: Civil War overall and it only fell a little short of our high expectations. There are moments in film that feel tepid (mostly in the first half), which will have you thinking ‘is this all?’ but those quickly fade once the action escalates. Despite its scattered flaws, this is an undeniably huge, commendably ambitious, very fun and ultimately enormously exciting ride. Whether you’re an MCU fan or not, you’re certain to get a vast amount of enjoyment out of this film.
Image Credits: Marvel Studios / Disney