Full disclosure: I was hyped for this movie. I’d been excited to see it since Marvel announced it, and when they and Sony/Columbia made a deal to have Spider-Man involved in the cinematic universe I was giddy. Did it live up to the hype, though?
Captain America: Civil War is, essentially, a story of consequences. Almost the entire Avengers crew has to come to terms with the casualties their battles have caused. They’re asked to make a choice: sign the Sokovia Accords and become a tool of the United Nations or walk away. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) approves of the Sokovia Accords while Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) doesn’t like the idea of putting the Avengers on an agenda-driven leash.
Having been a regular viewer of these Marvel films for about eight years now, I’ll be the first to admit that I did have my doubts going into this movie. How do you raise the bar and keep the story fresh and exciting? How do you introduce Spider-Man into this world? How do you keep the tone consistent while dealing with far more mature subject matter? Well, you hire Joe and Anthony Russo to direct and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to pen the script.
So, we’ll start with the directing. There were so many great sequences in this movie. I was never bored, as there was so much movement constantly occurring. This paired with the emotional engagement provided by actors who have come to live and breathe these characters makes for a fantastic viewing experience. The energy that comes off of these actors and that provided by the camera movements and editing keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire runtime, all 2 hours and 26 minutes. Also, the fight choreography in these Captain America movies has been spectacular, and they definitely raised the bar for this film that has conflict as a central element. Another storytelling enhancement provided by the visual filmmaking in this movie was the lighting. I liked how the movie was almost completely in daylight. It emphasized how these characters are all still good people that just happen to have differing ideas on how to make the world safer. Additionally, it keeps the movie from feeling melodramatic.
Going into the writing, I think it was great. Even with so many moving elements, plot devices, and characters to build, the story never felt crowded or lacking in focus. This, I believe, was accomplished by the writers wanting to tell a good story first and set up future movies second. I am especially impressed with how they handled bringing Spider-Man into the mix. Instead of there being some big ceremonious entrance, he’s brought in quickly with little explanation as to what his powers are and who he is. We know Spider-Man at this point, we’ve had a few reboots telling his origin story, so this Civil War story-line did not have to be bogged down by overemphasizing it. The writers got to the point and really honed in on the conflict between Rogers and Stark.
This is a sort of closing of an arc between them, as we’ve seen in past films how they’re always butting heads. Still, while all these squabbles have provided ample development and motivation for these two, there is still a lot more provided in this film. We really get to see the inner conflicts, the way these characters think and behave based on what’s happened in their lives and what they’ve caused. This happens a lot through dialogue, not necessarily the fight sequences. The simple human ways all the characters interact with and respond to one another help push the story further and add more layers of depth.
Overall, I’m truly impressed by this movie. I had high expectations that were exceeded and doubts that were cast aside through great writing, acting, and directing. The last time I enjoyed a movie this much was back in December with Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, and both feature a lot of movement, exciting visuals, and fun mixed with emotional heft with such ease that it leaves the viewer wondering how they did it all. Definite Stub It. Go see it with friends as soon as you can.
What are your thoughts on Captain America: Civil War? Comment below. Let’s talk about movies.