Doing what’s right has never been black and white. Yes, good and evil define each other, but they also have the ability to create one another. Captain America: Civil War takes our Marvel heroes further away from the confinements of the typical comic-book movie structure, giving them complex problems to deal with. Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo see our heroes dealing with collateral damage and political pressures to put in place a system of accountability to direct the team. The players choose their sides, as a new evil is pulling strings to tear them apart. This all-star cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and Chadwick Boseman.
The Russo brothers achieve a perfect balance of action, humor, drama, and fantastic character development in its two and a half hour run-time. The fights all have weight behind them, not only because we care about the characters and know them from the previous films, but because we are invested in their new story of dealing with the politics of being superheroes. Every punch, kick, and blast entertainingly pushes the story along. The CGI and practical stunts are impressively mixed together, making for great eye-candy. The airport battle, which seems like a prelude to Infinity War, is worth the price of admission alone.
The screenplay for Captain America: Civil War tackles important issues of checks and balances in the superhero world, but it also explores how vengeance can give us tunnel vision in the worst possible way. It’s not exactly anything new, but how it’s portrayed really raises the stakes, and allows the villain, Zemo, played by Daniel Bruhl, to get under the skin of the two head honchos. The script works very well, unraveling the mystery of who Zemo is, and by the time we know what drives him, the two major themes of the story come together.
The characters are all given their moments to shine, led by Captain America and Iron Man, and their clashing beliefs about the controversy of putting the Avengers in check. It presents the audience with thought-provoking questions that make the heroes feel real. How much can be swept under the carpet before the Avengers are seen as a group that hurts more than helps the world? The Avengers protect the world, but in doing so, they seem to create villains in the process. Vision’s explanation of causality is completely logical: the team of heroes invite challenge; therefore, encouraging opposing forces to emerge. Then again, the team needs their freedom to protect the world in order to be the most efficient criminal deterrent.
There are so many great performances in this film that it’s difficult to give all of them praise in one review. First of all, Chadwick Boseman as T’challa aka Black Panther, gives a dedicated performance. Boseman is a royal badass that we truly feel for. He’s a man influenced by vengeance, yet we admire his stoic honor and ability to evolve.
Chris Evans as Captain America is the patriotic boy scout that really is the clean-cut, ideal hero. His relationship with Stark has always been rocky, especially because of Stark’s daddy issues, but they’re better together than apart. Evans delivers another worthy performance as Captain America, a man trying to do what’s right in a world that has gotten more complicated. He is still trying to bring the Winter Soldier/Bucky back into some state of normalcy, protecting his long-time friend from the true villain of the film. In Civil War, he’s still that do-right man, but the film also suggests that what will rob him of his purpose in life is peace.
Then there’s Iron Man/ Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr. really gets to flex his acting chops in this film, as Tony Stark is spiraling down from the burdens of being a superhero. Downey Jr. reminds the world that he’s one of the best actors in the game, in case any of you forgot, with his performance here. At this point, Stark’s relationship with Pepper Potts is collapsing, and he’s feeling the weight of the consequences of being Iron Man more than ever. Downey Jr. is amazing as Iron Man/ Tony Stark, carrying a good portion of the dramatic weight in the film, while still managing to be the narcissistic genius we’ve come to love. Stark is accumulating more demons to fight off as he continues to prove to himself that his heroism is bigger than his ego.
There are a handful of supporting characters to mention that are incredible. Yes, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man is amazing in his first appearance in the MCU. He has an ample amount of screen-time, and he perfectly embodies the character, and is probably the best on-screen interpretation of Spidey yet. Paul Rudd returning as Ant-Man is also note-worthy, especially for his comedic timing. Rudd portrays Ant-Man as a fanboy, as he’s just happy to help the heroes he admires, especially Captain America. The moment he hands Cap his shield is perfect comedic delivery by Rudd.
Captain America: Civil War is one of the best superhero movies of all time. It cracks the surface of the superhero life, getting into the complexities of what it takes to do the job. Right and wrong is just a matter of where you’re standing, and this film shows that even superheroes deal with that every day, never-ending struggle.