365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America: Civil War is perhaps the greatest superhero movie that has not been directed by Christopher Nolan. My two favorite superhero movies (The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) both belong to him. At of this post, my third favorite would probably be a toss up between Batman Begins, Iron Man, and Captain America: Civil War. There are others (such as The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, etc.) that are up there, but there is clearly a distinction between the top 3 or 4 and all of the others. It is my hope that superhero movies continue to get better, but unfortunately, it feels like for every good one we get, we get 3-4 bad ones. So when we get a movie like Captain America: Civil War, it's important to take pause, see it, praise it, and encourage more movies like it because we know that poor movies will continue to be made because all of them seem to easily gross over $100 million. And the reason they day is our fault. We continue to see these terrible movies. But that is a different story for a different day.Not everything Marvel does is a hit. Not all of the movies involving members of The Cast are enjoyable experiences. I've absolutely hated Thor and Thor: The Dark World. And while The Avengers was entertaining, when watching The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was completely uninterested and turned it off. I may give it another chance, but I don't know. I'm not the biggest fan of the witty banter during fight scenes. I know that is one of the characteristics that really separates Marvel from DC Comics, but it gets completely old really quickly. And that was basically the first 30 minutes of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. When I wanted a story and a little bit of drama, I got an action comedy routine between Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. I just wasn't interested in this type of movie. I realize that there is a sequence for watching these Avengers movies and when you miss one, you may miss a lot. But some of these lesser movies were truly abysmal. Before I get into my review of Captain America: Civil War, I will say that one of the best things it had going for it was that there was no Thor or Hulk in it. I'm still waiting for a good movie that features either of these characters. Unfortunately, by not seeing The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I missed the introduction of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen - Godzilla, Oldboy) and Jarvis/Vision (Paul Bettany - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, A Beautiful Mind). And because these Avenger movies are all intertwined in some way, I had to pick up the pieces on my own about these two characters. It wasn't the end of the world, but I could see future Avenger movies becoming more frustrating with each prior movie missed.

Brother directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, You, Me, and Dupree) seem to co-direct all of their movies. And it seems to work for them. In fact, they've been chosen to direct the third installment of The Avengers movie (2019's Avengers: Infinity War, Part II). With this movie, the duo had the cast of casts and probably the coolest script to work with. It was different than all of the other movies involving The Avengers. You've got The Avengers, at first feuding, and then going after each other physically. And it was completely believable. It wasn't just some lousy movie with a big battle that the Russos knew they could get away with and still make a ton of money from. The brothers also got Spider-Man (Tom Holland - The Impossible) to work with. I'll talk about the incorporation of Spider-Man and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd - This Is 40, Ant-Man) later in this review. I'll preview in saying I understood from a couple of different reasons why they were incorporated, but, at the same time, questioning their importance and their actual positive impact on this film.

As mentioned, this is as believable a superhero premise as there is out there. The setting is Nigeria and Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo - End of Watch, The Grey) is trying to smuggle a bioweapon from the Center for Infection Diseases. After Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans - Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Snowpiercer) corners him and demands who is a buyer is, Rumlow says it is Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan - The Martian, Black Swan). This has Rogers in disbelief, but before he can manage to ask any more questions, Brock blows himself up with the bomb. The Scarlet Witch instinctively contains the burst and does save a bunch of people, but in the process sends the bomb into a nearby building, killing a handful of relief aid workers in the process.

Ironically, this brings up a very similar question that is posed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That question is how does society hold these superheroes accountable for their actions. Just like Batman and Superman, characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and The Scarlet Witch clearly do more good than harm, but what can't be ignored is the innocent lives that get lost along the way with, seemingly, no repercussions. The national governments, as well as The United Nations, want The Avengers (who are basically private military contractors) to defer to them. US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt - A History of Violence, Kiss of the Spider Woman) is now referring to The Avengers as dangerous heroes who ignore sovereign borders and seem unconcerned by damage caused. In fact, there are some who refer to the group as vigilantes. Essentially the US Government wants to assume control of The Avengers. And this is where the division occurs. There are those who agree that The Avengers should have government control over them just like they do other government assets. Some of The Avengers even confess that they act out of impulse or compulsion and then find ways to justify it afterward. Just like all of us, their past struggles in life influence the actions they make in their current life. And without some sort of regulation and without some sort of strict accountability for their actions, what makes The Avengers any different from civilians who cause injury or harm to others. Chief among those supporting regulation is Tony Stark/Iron Man (The Judge, Iron Man) who knows that he's had far too much independence and too much control and that his actions have often been obscured by past trials and tribulations in his personal life. The most notable opposer of this new regulation is Rogers who believes in what The Avengers do and part of what makes them such a cohesive, efficient, and effective unit is their ability to make decisions on their own and on the fly without the government red tape.

Herein lies the chief storyline. There are many others, but ultimately the story revolves around this chief concern. The decision that The Avengers make on this issue will forever change how they operate. And because they cannot agree, we get the civil war between the group. It is actually quite riveting to see the human side of so many different superheroes in such a short period of time. We learn what drives them. We learn what haunts them. We learn what they believe in. So while there are lots of subplots and plenty of action, it is the internal strife that really separates this movie from so many of the others. Siding with Iron Man are his forever loyal comrade Lieutenant James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle - Hotel Rwanda, television's House of Lies), The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson - Lost in Translation, Don Jon), Vision, and T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman - 42, Draft Day) who decides to join forces against what he believes are the rogue superheroes after his father is killed in Vienna during a meeting where regulations concerning The Avengers (called The Sokovia Accords) were set to be discussed. On the other side of the line are those who do not support regulation. The leader of this group is definitely Rogers. With him are The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson/Falcon (Aaron Mackie - The Hurt Locker, Man on a Ledge), Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker, The Town). And because they can, the Russos also introduce Spider-Man into the film (Holland's Spider-Man has his own origin story coming in 2017). And to balance out Spider-Man's introduction, Ant-Man is also called back into battle. Spider-Man and Ant-Man certainly were not needed for this film to work and, at times, I wish they weren't brought back at all. The added a certain comic element that just wasn't needed. You already had enough going on. But, again, I understand why the Russos had them in the film for a number of different reasons.

Captain America: Civil War is is one of the best superhero movies of all-time. It isn't as dark as Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise, but it is still good. As with all Marvel movies, it is certainly lighter in tone when compared to the DC Comics movies and some of the inside joking that occurs during the battle scenes is a little ridiculous. But when compared to a lot of the other Avenger movies, this one certainly is deeper and takes itself far more seriously. The battle scenes are fantastic. They are not overblown, too loud, or too long. And they have a purpose. Sure, it is a little over the top to believe that these unbelievably fast and strong forces are striking each other and nobody really gets hurt, but I guess that is the fun of it too. Like with almost all superhero movies (Nolan's Batman movies might be the exception), you certainly have to suspend your beliefs when walking into the theater. But if you are able to do so, you have set yourself in for an enthralling ride.

This movie is not to be missed, especially on the big screen.

Plot 10/10
Character Development 10/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 8/10
Screenplay 10/10
Directing 10/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 10/10
Universal Relevance 9/10

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