Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie
Swift shot: How far would you go to protect a friend? Would you take on an attacker, or the police, how about a nation, try 117 nations? That’s what Captain America (Evans) has to deal with in Civil War. His best friend, Bucky has resurfaced, and now the UN wants him captured, dead or alive. To make matters worse, any super hero who fails to abide by the UN’s super-hero registration accords is considered a rogue criminal and is to be dealt with accordingly. Alliances crumble, friends are betrayed, and the Avengers bisect.
Civil War asks difficult questions about power, authority, and the right to choose how you will defend yourself or others. There are no easy answers. The international community puts unrelenting pressure on Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) to lead the registration signing effort, thus bringing his unchecked Avengers group under the sole control of the UN. [Swift aside, anyone who has worked with the UN to “help people” knows how ineffective they are.] Yet, Tony (fresh off a time-out with Pepper) decides to essentially hand his nuts to the Useless Nations.
Tony’s lap-dog obedience to the international community disgusts Steve. Cap doesn’t think he needs to get permission to help people. He feels the Avengers do more good than harm. Tony used to be anti-government, but he has now decided there needs to be some sort of control mechanism in place for the Avengers. Irony isn’t lost on him that most of the serious Avengers problems were his personal fault. Regardless, Tony puts it to Cap that Cap either signs the Sokovia Accords or he’ll be a criminal. As with most conflicts, there is a middle-ground solution, but that isn’t ever explored in Civil War. After all, you can’t have a war without the lack of communication or compromise.
The audience is forced to choose a side, and it might not be as easy as you think. The writers do a good job of showing each side’s perspective, where Tony is none too eager to do battle with his friend, and Steve really has a personal stake in the fight driving his decision not to budge. Essentially, Steve doesn’t want to ask the UN every time he wants to wipe his ass which ply he should use, and Tony disagrees. You can probably figure out which side I chose, especially if you follow me on Twitter. [You shouldn’t follow me on Twitter; you wouldn’t like me on Twitter.]
What really makes Civil War a great film is that classic cinema element . . . the chase. In this case, three sides are chasing Bucky. Of course, with Cap helping him, he’s not an easy target to track down. A new hunter joins the pursuit, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman); he has a personal score to settle with the Winter Soldier. Notice I mentioned three sides? Well, of course as the Avengers implode and fight, real criminals don’t take a vacation. And enter . . . Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), or at least a guy named Zemo, for now. He too has a personal agenda with the Winter Soldier. Basically, it sucks to be Bucky in this film, because he’s always running and fighting for his life. Bucky’s lucky to have a friend as loyal as Steve Rogers.
Of course Cap isn’t alone, he’s got his new best buddy, Falcon (Mackie) who has received some awesome upgrades since the last time you saw him. And Wanda, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) eventually works with Cap to get to the bottom of why everyone is after Bucky. Wanda is the catalyst for the Sokovia Accords, and she struggles with what to do. Ultimately she decides that she can’t let fear dictate her actions.
I am no fan of green on green, or cape on cape, violence. I understand the comic book appeal though, where sometimes you want to watch these leviathans fight. And unlike a certain DC film, at least there was a lot more thought put into why these friends would come to blows. Let’s face it, you want action in these big blockbuster comic book films, and Civil War delivers! There were a few too many hand-to-hand melees for my liking, but I will never get bored watching Black Widow (Johansson) spinning around and kicking some ass. I can watch action heroes punching and kicking for only so long. Eventually, I better see something incredible. Luckily, Civil War got that message, and some fresh powers and upgrades are wisely deployed.
With a few hero cameos seasoning the script where necessary, Civil War introduces a new (highly anticipated) character that will be back in a Marvel film! I will let you decide if he was introduced the way you’d like. I wasn’t thrilled with him out of his onesie, but once he was swinging around fighting, and ceaselessly chatting with his friends and foes alike, it was hard not to love him. Of course, I am talking about Spider-Man. I’ve only seen Tom Holland in one other thing, so I will reserve my judgement for his return. A Marvel universe without my favorite web-head was hard to endure, but all is right with the world now.
As the plot thickens, and hidden agendas and truths are revealed, the stakes get personal for everyone involved. And the harsh reality of fighting each other comes with some permanent consequences. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt . . . right? I liked that there were actual consequences for doing battle with each other. If you’ve ever been in a fist-fight with your best friend and he left a permanent scar on you, that’s essentially what you get with Civil War. There are no easy battles, each one of them takes something out of you, and Cap and Iron Man may never be the same again.
Which side will you choose? Will you keep that allegiance after the film? You’ll have to see Civil War to know for sure.