When you look at the one sheet poster for Captain America: Civil War, you’d be forgiven for fearing that this is going to be an over-stuffed, overwhelming film. There are so many characters in this film, featuring a dizzying variety of superpowers, and alliances broken and forged. Would this audacious effort – featuring a popular comic book storyline that’s long been a fan favorite – collapse under its own weight?
You have nothing to worry about. This is a thoroughly entertaining film that works on multiple levels. By focusing on personal relationships and the difficult choices people make out of loyalty to one friend that end up feeling like betrayal to another, this film pulls off an incredible feat; it’s an intimate character story played out on the stage of some of the largest, most eye-popping set pieces you’ll see in a movie theater.
I’ve personally experienced a small measure of superhero fatigue in the past couple of years, but found Captain America: Civil War to be the perfect antidote. This is a can’t-miss movie. There are so many highlights that it’s difficult to list them all, but here’s my best effort.
The introduction of new characters. After seeing this film, I absolutely cannot wait for the upcoming Black Panther stand-alone movie. This complex, fascinating character, expertly portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, grabs hold of your attention every second he is on the screen. In addition, this is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film that has been allowed to include Spider-Man, and they hit a home run with a refreshing new take from 19 year old Tom Holland, who perfectly portrays Spidey’s youthful exuberance and sarcastic wit.
Expert inclusion of recently introduced characters. Some of the Avengers mainstays, such as the Hulk and Thor, don’t make an appearance in Captain America: Civil War, but you don’t even miss them. Paul Rudd’s hilarious Ant-Man, Elizabeth Olsen’s beguiling Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany’s arresting portrayal of Vision all steal enough scenes to more than make up for absence of the green monster and the nordic god.
The best superhero brawl on film – yet. I’ll try really hard to avoid hyperbole here, but a massive battle that takes place at an airport in the second half of the film is thrilling, entertaining, and exhilarating beyond all expectations. There is so much to love in this expertly paced and choreographed sequence. For a younger generation raised on the frenetic fun of Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers franchise, it embodies all of delights found while playing that high-octane iconic character free-for-all video game, along with hugely entertaining dialogue and action. My one potential critique of this incredible stretch was that the stakes potentially felt a little cartoony. The battle was between many superhero characters that we’ve grown to love, and you couldn’t help but know that none of them were going to actually get injured or die. However, any thoughts along these lines was quickly offset by…
A brutal throw down between two formerly close friends. Captain America: Civil War features excellent performances from its two main combatants – Tony Starks and Steve Evans. Their conflict erupts into an expertly directed final showdown that is agony for both of them – and painful to watch. It’s a gutting, deeply authentic climax, and forms the emotional core of an excellent film.
A couple words of warning. One, the action in this film, as with the previous Captain America installment, is a little grittier and more intense than in the Avengers films, and may be too much for younger children. Also, the story line featuring the film’s main villain can seem a little confusing over the course of the movie. At times, both my son and I were left wondering what was happening, and whether we’d somehow missed a scene or a line of dialogue. (Part of this is caused by some resemblance between the villain and the character of Bucky, which was probably not intentional, but can be disorienting.) However, rest assured, everything does make sense by the end.
Bottom line, Captain America: Civil War is an excellent, thought-provoking summer blockbuster, and you’ll want to see it in the theater as soon as possible.
Author bio: Jason Latshaw is a writer who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two kids, and a couple of gecko lizards.