What is it?
Captain America: Civil War is yet another installment in the outrageously popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie franchise. SO MANY AWESOME movies in this franchise, and so many more are coming.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with all the awesome in the last eight years, this new franchise from Marvel Studios launched in 2008 with the first Iron Man movie. Honestly? Movies haven’t been the same since. And it’s never been cooler to be a geek (although I’m proud to say I was a geek long before it was cool).
This movie is the third in the Captain America scion of MCU movies, though frankly it could probably also be called Iron Man 3.5.
Who’s in it?
So. Many. People. Before the first Avengers movie in 2012, I think people would have downplayed a movie with twelve main characters. But Avengers proved that a movie can exceed everyone’s expectations with a star-studded cast. The best reason for this is the writing and directing, which makes sure that just the right amount of time is spent with each characters. A lot of it has to do with the fact that nobody is out for the spotlight. All the actors care about the story and each other, so no one actor overpowers the other.
However, because this is technically a Captain America movie, Captain America is front and center. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is better than ever. But every protagonist needs an antagonist, and Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) as Iron Man steps in to fill that roll brilliantly. Even though the true villain is actually someone else (Helmut Zemo played by Daniel Brühl), Captain America and Iron Man duke it out in a fight over ideals, and they aren’t fighting alone.
Team Cap is made up of some of the heaviest hitters in the Avengers: his best pal Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), aka the Winter Soldier. High-flying and hilarious Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as The Falcon. Massively powerful yet still childlike Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) as Scarlet Witch. Bow-and-arrow-wielding, retired SHIELD agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) as Hawkeye. And MCU newcomer Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as the little-big-hero Ant-Man.
But Cap has others on his side too, including SHIELD/CIA agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), niece of Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) from the first Captain America movie and the Agent Carter TV show.
So with all that muscle on Cap’s side, who all is on Iron Man’s side?
Team Iron Man
Well, he has Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) as his best friend and terrorism-fighting partner War Machine. He’s also got SHIELD Agent Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johannson) as Black Widow. Iron Man also has The Vision, who was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron, a super-duper cyborg type powered by the yellow Infinity Stone (Paul Bettany). But Iron Man also gets a few extras on his side, and Civil War is the movie that introduces them: Black Panther and Spiderman.
Black Panther is Prince T’Challa of Wakanda (Chadwick Boseman), a reclusive yet highly advanced African nation. Spiderman … Oh what can I say about Spiderman? Other than if I have to pick a favorite from the Marvel Comics, Spiderman would be in my top five. Spiderman, the hilariously adorkable Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a teenager from Queens who has the ability to climb walls (among others, but this post is already too long).
But, of course, they’re not alone either. There are many other established Marvel Characters who pop in for a visit, including General Ross (William Hurt) from the Hulk movie. There are some newcomers as well, including Everett Ross (Martin Freeman… MARTIN FREEMAN!) who is actually a character from the Black Panther series of comics.
Okay. I think that’s it. Golly, that’s a lot of people. But I didn’t even notice it.
What’s it about?
When the New Avengers cause some civilian deaths on an operation, the world’s governments require them to sign a document that places them under United Nations authority. Captain America sees this as a loss of freedom and refuses to sign; Iron Man sees it as a necessary evil. But when Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is accused of a horrible crime, Captain America goes off to save him, which ignites a massive conflict between the heroes.
What did I like?
I don’t have enough room to tell you everything I liked. But I’ll just focus on the main part of it. I walked into Civil War expecting it to be full of angst and trauma. I expected painful scenes and beloved character deaths. What I got instead was an awesome adventure with all my favorite characters who were all very much in character. Lots of humor. Many laugh-out-loud moments. But also many moments where I was perched on the edge of my seat in shock and horror, in fear for the people on the screen.
So many of the twists in the storyline I didn’t see coming. I know a lot about these characters and their existing storylines, and I knew that Marvel needed to take some liberty. They did, and I loved every minute of it.
I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough backstory on the new characters to introduce them correctly. I was worried there wouldn’t be a good enough reason for these heroes who had loved and supported each other for eight years to turn against each other. I was worried that the lightness and humor of previous Marvel movies would be lost in the trauma and angst of imploding emotions.
All my worries were entirely unfounded.
The Falcon/Winter Soldier dynamic is a riot. Hawkeye is his marvelously snarky self. Also Tom Holland as Spiderman makes me so unbelievably happy.
What did I not like?
I don’t like Iron Man as the bad guy. There. I said it. I’m a big Tony Stark fan. He’s probably my favorite among the Avengers, and while he’s got his flaws (more than a normal person) he’s still a hero.
But what the writers did in Civil War is well done. They set up a scenario that is believable and sympathetic, where you recognize why he’s doing what he’s doing and you understand it.
Still. I’m looking forward to his role in future Marvel movies where he isn’t trying to smash Captain America’s face into the floor. And since there are now strong rumors of an Iron Man 4 coming, I may just get my wish.
Should you watch it?
Yes. Go see it. Today. Take everyone you know. The themes of friendship and family, right and wrong, freedom and control, justice and vengeance are heavy in this movie. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. It’ll make you think. And that’s everything I want from a movie.