Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

Copyright: Marvel Studios
Copyright: Marvel Studios

Captain America: Civil War

Release Date: 5/6/2016

Studio: Marvel Studios/Disney

Running Time: 147 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 or extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem.

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely; based on the Marvel Comics characters

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt

Copyright: Marvel Studios
Copyright: Marvel Studios


Another year, another movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes out. Eight years and 13 movies in, there is no slowing down the train. The build up to continues the ultimate showdown in the last in the Avengers trilogy that will mark the end of their third phase, a 2 part event named Infinity War that will bring together the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy together to stop Thanos. The world will have to wait another two years to see the first half of that showdown, but until then, old friends continue to check back in, and new ones are introduced at least once a year as the universe continues to grow and grow. For their latest movie, Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) is given the spotlight for the third time as the beginning of Phase 3.

Copyright: Marvel Studios
Copyright: Marvel Studios

Civil War serves as a sequel to both The Winter Soldier (the previous solo Captain America movie) and to Avengers: Age of Ultron. After a mission to stop HYDRA agents trying to steal a biological weapon results in some fatalities, the United Nations steps up to tell the superheroes that they are to save the day under government supervision and minimizing collateral damage as much as possible, or they will be disbanded forever. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is on board with the plan, but Steve/Captain is not. Those who side with Stark are Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Vision (Paul Bettany), along with new characters Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and a brand new and recast Spider-Man (Tom Holland) as recruits. Those who take Captain's side are Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Other plot lines include the reappearance of Captain's childhood friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) who has been brainwashed as the vigilante Winter Soldier by a man named Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) who is up to no good.

Copyright: Marvel Studios
Copyright: Marvel Studios

Captain America: Civil War takes more than an hour of its 147-minute running time to find its groove when a big showdown between the two sides at a German airport takes place. This scene is when we remember why the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the closest we have come to having the movie equivalent of a TV series, remains so popular among moviegoers. The characters use their unique powers against each other while throwing one-liners around. The people running the DC Cinematic Universe could learn some things about how to set up a battle among your favorite superheroes here. Some of the characters who have played significant parts in the Avengers movies sit out from this one, including Nick Fury, Hulk, Thor and the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. Others, like Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), the niece of Captain America's old love Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell), are given bigger roles. After a couple of the last few movies in the universe felt like trailers for the big things that are still to come, dialing things back is a refreshing choice. I complained in my previous reviews of movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that they were becoming too familiar with their story formulas, so this is a welcome change of pace.

Copyright: Marvel Studios
Copyright: Marvel Studios

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (The Winter Soldier, the upcoming 2 part Infinity War) place action as a higher priority than the story (the opening fight in Nigeria uses a lot of handheld camerawork that could cause motion sickness in some moviegoers). But there is never any doubt of what the stakes are. The climatic fight between Tony Stark, Captain America, and Bucky is better than the one between Batman and Superman in Zack Snyder's turgid Dawn of Justice. Although the first hour could have been paced better and Zemo is insignificant to the primary showdown, Civil War is another fine entry in a franchise that we have come to rely on for 2 hours of fun.

As always with these movies, stay for the end credits for double stingers: one in the middle of the credits and another after the scroll.


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