Captain America: Civil War: The Spoiler-Free Review

The hypothetical war – that of hero against hero – has been part of comic storytelling for a while now. And while older incarnations have had the heroes face off to please the whims of some almighty being, more recent incarnations have taken on a more ideological slant. With Captain America: Civil War, the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe face-off onscreen in a clash of both fists and philosophies that will leave you wanting more, both in good and bad ways.

A spoiler-free movie review of Captain America: Civil War with
Direcow Avatar Direcow and Korgath Avatar Korgath

Direcow Avatar

The third installment of the Captain America series sees the heroes face the after-effects of Avengers: Age Of Ultron (yes, only two movies ago, though it feels like forever). Governments are getting worried that the heroes have too much power and cause too much destruction, introducing the Sokovia Accords, meant to let the United Nations decide when the Avengers can assemble. Iron Man agrees, Captain America doesn’t – and so the rest of the team take sides.

And when both sides clash, power against power – that’s when the movie comes into its own.

Directed by the Russo brothers – who did an amazing job with Captain America: The Winter Soldier – this new movie features some action sequences that are some of the best superhero fights ever. It does, in some sense, bode well for the Avengers: Infinity War two-parter, which the duo are helming… after all, Captain America: Civil War is almost Avengers 2.5.

Korgath AvatarIn fact, if I’m going to be bitterly harsh, I’d say this movie was more Iron Man 4 than Captain America 3. But yes, Avengers 2.5 is the best description. In fact, several members of the cast have referred to it as such, and there’s a reason for that.

Direcow AvatarWell yeah – I wouldn’t call it Iron Man 4, but it’s safe to say that there’s #TeamIronMan for a reason.

Korgath AvatarYes, I get that a movie called Civil War would need to involve him, but I don’t have any explanation why there was so much Tony Stark in a Captain America movie. I felt several scenes involving Stark (who’s already had 3 movies of his own) came at the expense of spending more time with Steve Rogers and his supporting cast of characters in his own movie franchise. If I find out that Sharon Carter’s limited appearance in a Captain America film were cut in favour of Stark… but… I get ahead of myself.

teamcap captain america civil war

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Let’s talk about what the movie gets right. I mentioned the action sequences earlier. If you’ve seen the trailers you might have caught a hint of the airport fight. Here, at this moment, is where the whole movie comes together – where you see each hero’s powers at play. It shows the peak of when the Russos and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have a feel of the characters, both in terms of action and personality. If you’re a comic book fanboy, this scene will be a blast.

But there’s the other side of the conflict – the ideological one: Should the heroes be answerable to Governments, or will that end up making them a loaded gun for a committee to point at? But yet there’s where the main “Civil War” crux of the movie falters. Call it a Civil War – and on paper it sounds like one – but it just doesn’t come together as much as it could have.

staron steve rogers sharon carter captain america civil war

Korgath AvatarYep, that’s the one major flaw of the movie – the ideological conflict was never as fully developed as the physical conflict. While I feel there’s more than enough precedence (even in just the MCU alone) why Steve chooses personal freedom over handing control of the Avengers to the United Nations, this movie presumes you already know all that. There isn’t, however, enough evidence why Stark would choose to accept oversight, even necessitating an extra scene with Stark and Miriam, the mother of a victim of the Avengers’ battle with Ultron in Sokovia. Alfre Woodard was cast as that mother to deliver some major guilt-tripping to Stark, but even she didn’t seem like sufficient motivation to make Stark sign the Sokovia Accords.

Direcow AvatarTry as it might, there’s just not enough impetus either way – especially if you’re new to the franchise (but why). In a sense, kudos to Marvel for continuing to do movies as a series extremely well, but there are just some hoops you need to jump through to really get involved with their conflict. I’ve known the characters and I love them – but that felt like the bigger reason why I cared, rather than what they pontificated onscreen.

Korgath AvatarAnother struggle that Captain America: Civil War has with being part of a juggernaut even by superhero film franchise standards? Trying to give each character enough screentime. I love that they did a featurette for Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Agent 13, which I’m going to insert here because I can:

The women really got a chance to shine in this movie, but I couldn’t help but feel like they could’ve had more time in the limelight if not for some seemingly unnecessary casting for this movie. Yes, I’m talking about Everett Ross (played by Martin Freeman) was shoehorned into the plot for no apparent reason at all. Freeman barely has two lines in two appearances in the whole movie, and it’s not even obvious that he’s (most likely) playing a bigger role in 2018’s Black Panther film.

Direcow AvatarWhich results in what feels like this movie is spending just too much energy laying the ground for future movies. I suppose that’s going to be how Marvel does it moving forward, and taken in isolation most of the new characters are really great (especially Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther), but it just ends up distracting from the main issue.

Korgath AvatarChadwick Boseman as Black Panther was such an incredible scene stealer. He plays amazingly well opposite Scarlett Johansson (making me pretty convinced that she’ll appear again in his movie – because she honestly deserves to be in all the MCU movies if she’s not getting her own) and carries himself with the intelligent, regal aura that epitomises the Black Panther. My only gripe would perhaps be that his impetus for getting involved – felt too shallow and unfounded, but he more than earns his place in the movie and I can’t wait for 2018.

Direcow Avatar

Indeed – and after all, that gripe goes in line with the rest of the movie not giving enough raison d’etre to each character. But Captain America: Civil War really paves the way forward for the MCU (good and bad), by bringing the other scene stealer, Spider-Man, back home to the MCU. It’s easy to say that Tom Holland might be the best onscreen Spidey yet – the quips and his fighting just feel perfectly like our friendly neighbourhood hero in truly there. (And if you’re wondering, why he gets involved isn’t quite like the climactic unmasking in the comics.)

Spider-Man Tom Holland Captain America Civil War

Korgath AvatarI really appreciated that Marvel finally got the chance to do Peter Parker right – in that Spider-Man really started out in comics as a teen, with all the wide-eyed naivete that youth brings. But that being said, while I am the biggest fan of Marisa Tomei, was she simply cast so that Tony Stark could be creepy and keep telling Peter Parker how hot his aunt and adoptive mother was?

Direcow AvatarMaybe it’s so we know Tony is horrible, so it’s time to side with #TeamCap. Not the best way about it, mind. And that makes him a better villain than Zemo.

Korgath AvatarI won’t spoil the movie, but after the horrendous way Zemo was handled in this movie, I’m really holding onto rumours that he returns in some shape or form for a future MCU film. As a Captain America fan, it’s been really difficult to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe flub the portrayal of each classic Cap villain – Red Skull, then Strucker, and now Zemo. Loki had better not be the only memorable villain the MCU has produced.

Direcow AvatarYet, with all the niggles, this is a movie I feel comfortable in telling you to watch more than once. Not just because of that amazing fight, but because there is a lot of emotion pouring from the heroes, many of whom we’ve known for close to a decade. Ideologically speaking you know where they’re coming from, and you know Tony and Cap have always been at loggerheads – so it’s easy to fill in the blanks the movie fails to fill. (However, this doesn’t necessarily apply for every character.) And it’s still finely balanced in a way that you can’t right out say who’s wrong – they all get multiple moments to prove their point – it just could have been deeper, especially when it all seems so serious.

Korgath AvatarThat said, we did agree that comic book geeks, especially Marvel fans, may have a hard time reconciling the events of the 2006 seminal crossover series with this movie. Much derision has already been had about the smaller cast of characters (not that it was ever practical to have so many superheroes crammed into a movie), but I was particularly annoyed by how narrow a scope this movie chose to take on.

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I think part of that comes from a misdirection of sorts, that the ideological battle ended up being fought for the most personal of reasons. That’s not to say that it’s impossible – people have all sorts of personal reasons that feed into the larger reasons for why they fight for a cause – but that’s one thing the movie could have done much better on.

And there was such hype riding on the movie – the guys at Disney really ran an amazing campaign, coupled with a great trailer, that kept expectations high. In the grand scheme of things Captain America: Civil War isn’t disappointing, but after the superlative Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one just expects so much. But I did have fun, and I’m in for more MCU goodness – so, a successful job by the Russos?

Korgath AvatarYes, I may have hyped myself up too much to enjoy the movie properly, but I did enjoy the movie and I’m looking forward to watching it again soon. Plus, I can’t deny that it’s really cool having #TeamCap in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands and lighting up the Helix Bridge at 8pm tonight to respond to the Paris and the Eiffel Tower being #TeamIronMan. Don’t forget to catch it!

Peter Lin

His teenage years spent nursing a giant man-crush on Steve Rogers, the first Captain America, Peter naturally found himself drawn to many other heroes who depicted strong, manly qualities, including the honour-bound warrior Worf, first Klingon in Starfleet, and the muscular rock hard abs of The Thing.

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