Verdict: “Civil War” follows Marvel’s winning formula with an unmistakable touch from the Russo brothers. It offers a deeply emotional struggle for the characters along with the outward struggle against the main villain, who was, frankly, forgettable. There was definitely fan-service (that bicep shot will haunt me until the day I die), but, overall, the dynamic between Captain America and Bucky Barnes, and the resulting conflict between Team Cap and the rest of the world, was heartbreaking enough to carry the movie on its own.
Best Shot: Although there was plenty of action, the best scene was definitely the chase scene in Bucharest towards the beginning of the movie. Bucky yanks a guy off his motorcycle and mounts it in a smooth 180 degree spin that no one should ever try in real life.
The final installment of the “Captain America” trilogy pitted Team Cap against Team Iron Man in the ultimate fight for freedom versus justice. At least, that’s what the movie’s tagline said. The actual storyline was much more nuanced than that.
Robert Downey, Jr, who reprised his role as Tony Stark, is fighting to get Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, to sign the Sokovia Accords, which would put the Avengers under the control of the United Nations. While there are some people who are vehemently against Team Iron Man, I understand where Stark is coming from. He’s still reeling from guilt over the destruction of Sokovia during the battle against Ultron, a giant murder bot he created with Bruce Banner; as well as trying to cope with the PTSD he developed after almost dying in New York to stop Loki, something none of the films after Iron Man 3 have even touched on. He wants people to stop getting hurt.
Captain America, on the other hand, doesn’t think the Accords will change anything. Cue in Stark’s massive ego and the conflict sparks off right away, despite Cap dealing with his own guilt over the civilians killed during Cap’s fight with Crossbones in Lagos. However, before any fighting can really happen, Rogers receives a particularly devastating text message which sends him to London, cutting the conflict short, or so we think.
Here comes the villain: Helmut Zemo, a completely different Zemo from the comic books. He is a Sokovian soldier who lost his family off-screen when the Avengers destroyed Sokovia in “Age of Ultron.” Since then, Zemo has been planning how to return the favor to the Avengers. Unfortunately, there was little to set him apart from other revenge-crazed villains in action movies, and his whole “no I in team” plan mimics what we’ve already seen in “The Avengers,” just without the happy ending.
Despite the return of several old faces, it was Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa (a.k.a. the Black Panther) who stole the show. T’Challa was really the only character who was allowed to grow in the movie, paralleling Zemo’s revenge path after the death of his own father in Vienna. In the end of the movie, T’Challa is able to see what revenge has done to Zemo and stops himself from going down that path – a predictable piece of characterization, yes, but an effective one.
Another predictable plot point came when Sharon Carter, who was introduced in “The Winter Soldier” as Agent 13, finally got an on-screen kiss with Rogers, which really didn’t have a place in the movie. It was awkwardly timed and felt forced. Carter, played by Emily VanCamp, had maybe five minutes of screen time in “Winter Soldier,” so we really don’t get to see their relationship develop. Also, the writers seem to ignore the fact that Rogers was also in love with Sharon Carter’s aunt Peggy Carter in “The First Avenger,” (creepy) and the fact that the beginning of Roger’s and Agent 13’s relationship was literally her spying on him in “The Winter Soldier” (again, creepy).
Though not a perfect movie, “Civil War” is certainly Marvel’s best. We see an incredible struggle both internal and external and Cap finally gets Bucky, his old World War II pal turned brain-washed assassin in “The Winter Soldier” back at the cost of his shield. It sets up for future movies without feeling like that was its only purpose.