“Whose Side Are You On?” (Captain America: Civil War)

Captain America Civil War Poster
A framing poster for Captain America: Civil War.

I remember when I heard that Captain America 3 was going to be an adaption of the Civil War storyline, I immediately rushed out and got a copy of the comic book from my local library. I loved it. It was fantastically written, interesting, and seriously morally ambiguous. The whole story was constructed to steer you through the different sides, but there was never a right decision. It was brilliant, so after reading it, I was naturally excited to see the movie. How’d it turn out?

After a deadly incident in Lagos, the Avengers are put under scrutiny for their actions. The UN agrees on the Sokovia Accords, deciding that the Avengers have spent too long with unlimited power and no oversight. Iron Man backs the legistlation, whereas Captain America sees it as a bad move. With their views in contrast, and the Winter Soldier back in the picture, the Avengers begin to fracture. From this one, there’s no going back.

Once again, Marvel proves that it can make a really good movie. The only difference now is that no one is surprised any more. Or, at least, I’m not. To be honest, I really reached the point a while ago with these movies where I’ll just go and love them just to see the characters again. The writers don’t have to throw some world-ending catastrophe at the screen, that’s just a bonus (albeit a very good one). If the entire movie was just a conversation between Ant-Man and Iron Man, I’d be OK with it. And it stands to truth that Civil War absolutely nails every character it touches.

Spidey (Cap 3)
“Hey, everyone.”

Captain America and Iron Man are both flawlessly done, and seeing their differing ideologies clash on screen is a real treat. Ant-Man is fantastic (I especially loved his quote “Think you for thanking of me”), The Winter Solder manages to be both scary and interesting at the same time, and you never know what he’s going to do next. People like The Falcon, Black Widow, and Rhodey are as fun as ever, and Black Widow specifically kept me guessing until the end. The Black Panther was integrated astoundingly well, and his plot-line was surprisingly very developed. The Vision and Scarlet Witch play off of each other very well, this is the closest Hawkeye we’ve ever gotten to the comics, and of course, there’s Spider-Man. I was very excited to see how Marvel would handle the character outside of Sony’s hands, and I was not disappointed. I remember Tony alluding to the character, and laughing out loud as the scene transitioned because I was so excited. As soon as Peter (played by Tom Holland this time around) walked on, I knew he was perfect. I fell in love with this guy from the first words that came out of his mouth, and his interactions with Tony were pretty great.

Vision Wears Clothes (Cap 3).jpg
The vision wears clothes in this movie, and it looks really funny.

So the characters are great, but how’s the plot? And remember, the one to beat is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That movie isn’t going down easy. But I was confident that Civil War could do it, as long as it did one thing: keep the feeling of moral ambiguity that the comics used. And I’m happy to say that the movie nails it. In fact, it does the ambiguity even better than the comic book did. Civil War threads the needle between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, and makes sure that in the end, no one is right. No one wins, and there are other little mini-sides going on around the conflict at the same time. It’s completely possible for me to be Team Cap, and my sister to be Team Iron Man, and us both to have a legitimate, serious discussion about it, and it’s also possible for both of us to be right at the same time. This movie fosters actual discourse, and it does it in a way that makes sure that it doesn’t take a side, but makes sure you (as the viewer) has enough information to pick as side based on what you see.

Flying Shot
Iron Man and War Machine fly into action.

This all seems a little familiar, though. I remember a certain other comic-book movie coming out around the same time, basing itself on a fight between two heroes. Which one was that, oh, right. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I think it’s more than a little funny that people thought Civil War was going to be this mindless and pointless “fight” between characters, concocted just to sell tickets, and only written in order to introduce more characters for more movies. I also think it’s more than a little silly how that’s basically a review of Batman v. Superman, not Civil War.

Civil War is brilliantly done. It’s serious, and makes you think, but it’s laugh out loud funny too. The same movie that draws real world parallels to the Patriot Act, the September 11th attacks, and the Guantanamo Bay prison also graced the world with a joke about the Winter Soldier asking the Falcon if he could move his seat up in a cramped car. And never once does it feel wrong. This is the kind of real maturity that I was talking about in my review of Daredevil season 2 a month or so back! I could go on for hours about how I loved all the characters, and how the plot was incredibly well implemented, or how fantastic of an adaption it was. But that would waste everyone’s time.

Civil War #7.jpg
The cover of Civil War #7, the final issue in the series.

The bottom line is, Captain America: Civil War is one of those rare movies where everything seems to be in it’s proper place. I laughed hard, I cried a little bit, the airport fight is the greatest action scene to ever grace a comic book movie, and the climax is one of the most heart-wrenching and gut-punching things I’ve ever seen in a film. But most of all, I thoughtCivil War is an incredibly multifaceted experience, and in the end, no one is right. In the end, everyone walks away bleeding, and nothing can ever be the same. And frankly, I don’t want it to be. Civil War is a long movie, and it feels even longer, in a good way. This movie is not just watch-and-forget, it’s an experience. There’s a reason why the slate of MCU movies is mostly new characters in solo-outings from now until Infinity War. It’s because this movie has lasting effects on everything in the future. In effect, there are no more Avengers. They’ve been splintered, shattered, scattered to the wind. It’s going to take a hell of a lot of effort to get the Avengers back on their feet, but it will take nothing more than what’s presented to make Civil War an incredible experience.

Captain America: Civil War was everything I wanted it to be and more. The character work is astoundingly good, the plot is intricate and ambiguous, and the movie skillfully threads the needle between sides, allowing the viewer to come to a decision on their own. With it’s brilliant approach to the classic storyline, Civil War is a movie that’ll be in my mind for a long time to come.

Good Job (Civil War).gif

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