Captain America: Civil War Review

As superhero/comic films continue to take over theaters, dominating the global box-office year after year, they continue to tweak the general effort. Considering the flood of titles that have already hit, and those we know are coming, that’s obviously something necessary for a genre that wants to keep box office success going. We aren’t going to want Doctor Strange to feel like we’ve just pasted a new character into the same outline, and the next Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, Black Widow, Black Panther, or The Hulk film shouldn’t just feel like the next episode of a TV show.

You’ll still make money, but people will get bored. Deadpool certainly showed that mixing things up can pay off big.

Thus, each new movie brings about a certain degree of messing with the formula.

Captain America: Civil War messes with the wrong parts, and doesn’t particularly care if you don’t like the fact.

As is this year’s standard among superhero films, the crux of the power play here is that people are sick and tired of the collateral damage that comes along with superheros attempting to defeat supervillains. Much like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film realizes this is a view that isn’t going to hold up if we look at it too long, after all, despite the alleged sell of a United Nations document, what’s the alternative? Just letting the bad guys do what they will? Yeah. Ok.

Captain America Civil War
courtesy Marvel

So, the movie whizzes through the ethical dilemma, and hopes you’re just along for the ride. That’s a bad move, because with this crowd of heroes, having Iron Man walk into a room and tell everyone what he’s decided they are all going to do is a silly play. Whatever laughable guilt trip we’ve thrown at him, he isn’t the guy to jump headlong into this, and he isn’t the guy who would act as though Cap’s, “What if they send us somewhere we don’t think we should go?” isn’t even worthy of a response.

The catalyst for the real division is that we have evidence that Cap’s old pal Bucky, The Winter Soldier, blew up the meeting of U.N. delegates that were ratifying what might as well be called “The Incredibles Act.”

In the end, some people want to sign, some don’t, and Captain America thinks Bucky is probably more or less innocent.

It’s impossible to avoid admitting that there is a lot of fun to be had with this one, even if you have to spend a lot of energy ignoring the inclusion of Spider-Man and Ant-Man. Spider-Man ends up providing some of the film’s best moments, but it would have been less insulting if they would have just spliced in actual commercials.

Captain America Civil War Spider-Man
courtesy Marvel

Fun aside, this one abandons that which made (most) previous efforts in the Marvel franchise so much more, an honest delivery of the characters. The premise may have a higher degree of difficulty here, but we aren’t even trying as hard as we have before. The explanation of Tony Stark’s motivation, assuming he isn’t suddenly a fifteen year-old who never heard of ethics before, is simply that he does whatever he has to in order to progress where the film needs him to. We want a serious amount of Iron Man and Captain America bashing into each other, and we’re going to get it.

The same is true of everyone… with the possible exception of Cap, who is more or less the same as he’s been in previous films. Scarlet Witch is on one side of the debate for much of the film, but changes her mind, because it says so in the script.

It is at least a heady script, with Daniel Brühl doing his best to sell us on a theory that even he doesn’t seem to believe, and the action scenes are well thought out, which is a step up from the last Avengers film.

As long as you don’t want to think even as little as all our heroes apparently do, you’re probably going to love this one, and it’s hard to give anyone too much grief over doing so. But, you might leave with a slightly bad taste in your mouth, especially since no one bothers to wonder about what they would have done differently had they signed something similar long ago.



Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.