Captain America: Civil War (2016)

brooke I have long been enjoying the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I’ve been there through thick and thin, and with few exceptions, I have loved every movie.
Captain America: Civil War is not only one of the strongest films in the MCU, but hands down a great movie. Major props to the actors, writers, and directors.

casey I only object to using phrases like “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” because embracing marketing speak is letting the terrorists win (oops, I’m totally guilty). But whatever you want to call this big bundle o’ movies Marvel and Disney are making, Civil War is one of the best.

brooke Civil War is the third Captain America movie, but it’s really an Avengers movie masquerading as Cap’s film. You get almost the entire team in large portions of the film, including newcomers Spider Man and Black Panther.
btw, how amazing were Tom Holland as Peter Parker and Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa? I could not be more excited for the Spider Man: Homecoming and Black Panther movies after seeing their MCU debuts.

casey It’s nice to see an often-peripheral hero like Black Panther get a strong push, both through this movie and the new line of comics. As one writer noted, he’s actually one of the best-developed characters despite limited screen time.

brooke I don’t want to go too deep into plot details, but fair warning, we’re going to talk about the story, so minor spoiler alert.

casey Really, this isn’t the kind of movie where spoilers mean much. The nature of serialized superhero movies (and their comic progenitors) is the illusion of change that masks underlying stasis. Iron Man and Captain America have their differences in Civil War, which divides the Avengers, but ultimately everything is–and must be–reset by the end. Which isn’t necessarily a problem: the strength of these movies is in the character bits and watching their personalities bounce off each other, and only Guardians of the Galaxy handles that as well as Civil War.

brooke So, as the title indicates, the movie is all about a rift in the Avengers, centered around whether to accept UN oversight after the disasters that happened in AvengersUltron, and Winter Soldier, along with an operation that goes wrong at the start of Civil War. In an early scene, the Avengers sit around talking about the pros and cons of the proposed regulations, each making solid and reasonable points. But, as Linda Holmes explains, what ends up driving the plot is less the UN than the nature of the choice. Each Avenger is forced to choose whether they are on #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan (except for Thor and Hulk, who are on  #TeamNotInThisMovie). Then we watch as friends and teammates come to blows over politics, not unlike what happens on my Facebook posts.
Several Avengers initially pick #TeamRetirement but find themselves pulled back into the fray, because that’s the way humans (even superhumans) often end up dealing with their problems.
I’m personally on #TeamIHopeThereIsAnotherCompromise, but sometimes that’s not an option. You’re presented with certain choices, and one way or another you have to decide.

casey Thematically, the movie has a lot in common with Batman v Superman, raising questions about superpowered vigilantes, rule of law, and innocents caught in the crossfire. And, like BvS, Civil War mostly sets aside the philosophical questions in favor of more personal conflicts. Unlike BvS, that stuff is actually coherent and meaningful, mostly centering on Captain America and his erstwhile buddy/suspected terrorist the Winter Soldier.
What I like about Civil War is that it actually builds dramatically without leaning on the obligatory Huge Comic Book Finale. There’s a big Avengers melee midway through the film, which is a lot of fun, but the final act trims everything down to a few core players in a confined space in a way that actually raises the emotional intensity. I’m not sure the bad guy’s grand scheme actually makes sense, but it almost doesn’t matter because the movie earns its drama so effectively.

brooke The villain’s plot was a little scattered, but what makes this story compelling is the characters, this team we’ve been rooting for since Nick Fury showed up in Iron Man (Go #Team Avengers!)

casey Like I said before, one criticism is that movie ends roughly where it begins, but it’s a lot of fun getting to that point because Disney and Marvel show real affection for these characters. After the mediocre Age of Ultron, Civil War has me feeling optimistic about the series again.

brooke I completely agree with you there.
One mild criticism is that this isn’t a film you can jump into if you haven’t been following the MCU. It’s a cumulative story, a bridge between the ones before it and what’s coming next, and without having seen at least the previous Avengers and Captain America movies, you’re going to be lost.

casey Oh, one more thing: I’m always complaining about superhero movies tediously rehashing the same origin stories with every single reboot, but Civil War handles Spider Man’s origin perfectly: by blowing right by it.

brooke Anyway, go see this movie, brace yourself for the rest of Phase 3, and pray that the forthcoming two-parter Avengers: Infinity War is nearly as good.


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