Synopsis: Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei
Director: Anthony & Joe Russo
Running Length: 146 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (8.5/10)
Review: With the release of Captain America: Civil War we’re now 13 movies deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and no one would blame you if you think all the Marvel films are starting to blend into one another. Before taking in the screening of CA:CW I was chatting with a friend, mentally trying to put together what events happened in which film and who was introduced when. I’m not as devout a fanboy to pull the connections out of thin air so it took me a while and in all honesty to full enjoy the offerings in CA:CW you’ll want to go back and re-watch 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. I made the mistake of not revisiting the earlier films and paid the price, too often playing catch-up.
So let’s just assume you’re up to speed with the goings on involving our superheroes, namely Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, The Iceman), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr., The Judge), & Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson, Her). Opening with a boffo action/chase sequence that finds Captain America, Black Widow, Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, Godzilla), and Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, Pain & Gain) stopping the theft of an infectious disease, the group winds up inadvertently bringing about the deaths of innocent civilians. The ramifications for their mission, compounded by the previous massive destruction seen at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron is cause for the US Government (led by a mostly awake William Hurt, The Doctor) to step in, attempting to regulate the Avengers with the help of the United Nations.
While most of the team is willing to go along with being governed, Captain America is wary of signing his name for fear of being unable to help whomever and whenever he pleases (and interesting reversal for a man once used as wartime propaganda). When his friend Bucky Barns (Sebastian Stan, Ricki and the Flash), aka the Winter Soldier, is possibly framed for a bombing at a peaceful meeting of foreign dignitaries, Captain America goes against his fellow Avengers and sets out to clear Bucky’s name while avoiding his former allies. Add into that some secrets from the past that link Iron Man to the Winter Soldier and a mysterious man (Daniel Brühl, Rush) with a bone to pick with our heroes, and you have a globe-hopping film that alternates between vengeance and allegiance.
I’m not going to lie, there’s a whole lot going on here but directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (returning to the director’s chair after Captain America: The Winter Soldier and getting ready to direct the final two-part Avengers finale) and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely manage to juggle the characters, action, and multiple plotlines with striking ease. Even Joss Whedon, who so memorably delivered The Avengers with nice complexity, couldn’t produce a follow-up that flowed as well as CA:CW does.
You may not remember every little Easter Egg that pops up and the action scenes may be slightly overwhelming but it’s never a chore to keep up with the pace. Okay, it’s about 15 minutes too long (it’s the longest Marvel film to date) and the performances tend to be on the stoically self-aware side (especially from Downey Jr. who seems to be going after a special Oscar for eye acting) but it’s the kind of crowd-pleasing adventure that audiences went looking for in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
What’s nice to report here too is that some of the most exciting parts of the film haven’t been spoiled in trailers…in fact some sequences from the trailers have been edited to REMOVE spoiler characters and developments. Marvel has a way with the element of giddy unexpected surprises and there are several neat-o secrets waiting for you.
Aside from the actors mentioned above, special shout-outs go to Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up) as Black Panther and Tom Holland (The Impossible) as Spider-Man. A reboot of a reboot of Spider-Man was of little interest to me but Holland’s introduction gives my Spidey senses hope that another take on the web slinging hero isn’t the worst idea in the world. If the character feels like a late addition to the mix, it’s because the deal to bring Spider-Man over to Marvel from his home at Sony didn’t happen until the eleventh hour, necessitating some obvious Spidey shoe-horning to take place. Boseman, as an African prince seeking justice for a fallen family member, is a cool addition to the group and a post-credit scene (the first of two) gives us a small idea of where he may turn up next. Jeremy Renner’s (The Bourne Legacy) Hawkeye, Don Cheadle’s (Flight) War Machine, Paul Bettany’s (Mortdecai) Vision, and Paul Rudd’s (Wanderlust) Scott Lang/Ant-Man all have their moment of glory though this is ultimately Captain America’s movie so enjoy them while they’re there (especially Rudd’s cameo which is better than a lot of Ant-Man).
With the uptick of comic book movies arriving in theaters, a small backlash is developing and I think it’s mostly out of overall fatigue. With each new Marvel movie, it’s becoming almost a necessity to go back and review everything that came before…something that’s good for movie theaters and their marathon screenings but bad for audiences that don’t have the time to devote hours and hours to do their homework. Recent failures like 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot and the critical disappointment in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (for the record, I liked it, get over it) might have given the Marvel studio heads a moment of fear. Yet their output is just continually in another league than their competitors and their juggernaut franchise lives to fight another day with Doctor Strange arriving before 2016 is over.
Check out my reviews of these other Marvel movies: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, & Avengers: Age of Ultron.