Okay, so let me preface this review by explaining a little bit about what Marvel is doing when it comes to their properties. There are a few different "universes" to wrap our heads around. There's obviously the comic book universe but also the television universe, the cinematic universe, and the video game universe. I don't know that any of them really cross over although events from the cinematic universe seem to affect the television one from time to time. It took me until Sunday to really grasp that the comic book universe serves only as a starting point for providing storylines that the cinematic universe can make their own. Now that I fully understand it, I can enjoy the cinematic universe without any qualms. This review will deal with the latest entry into the cinematic universe (herein MCU). Enough preface - onto the goods.
Captain America: Civil War has been touted as both "the Avengers movie that should have been" and "the best comic book movie ever". As an avid MCU fan, I can agree with both statements for the most part. I thought the Avengers movies fell short of expectation and I think only Captain America: Winter Soldier gives this bad boy a run for its money. Clocking in at about two and a half hours, it has to cover a lot of territory and surprisingly I left the theatre feeling like it could have gone longer. I think a good movie makes time fly, leaving you wanting more. Civil War manages to hit all the right notes with only a few quibbles along the way. Be advised that there will inevitably be a few spoilers in the paragraphs ahead and the reader should have some knowledge of the MCU to date. Don't read this if you haven't seen the movie and wish to be surprised... You've been warned.
I foresee this review being mostly about the few quibbles that came up throughout the movie. As most every other review is ranting and raving about how amazing the movie is, this might stand out a bit as a result. I'll start with the main plot of the movie that sees the Avengers being required to sign the "Sokovia Accords" (basically puts all superhero activity under the watchful eye of the United Nations). Iron Man is still dealing with the guilty conscience that's been in place since the first Avengers film, so he supports the Accords fully and takes some of the heroes with him. Captain America doesn't support the Accords because "we lose our freedom when we give up our right to choose" and the remaining heroes side with him. The problem here is that Iron Man's side simply doesn't make any sense. After the complete disaster that SHIELD and HYDRA ended up making, it seems oddly curious that government intervention is again the solution. Furthermore, there's a lot of stress put on a few people ending up dead as a result of the insanity of various attacks the Avengers thwarted instead of focusing on the far greater number that survived as a result of their involvement. Regardless of how silly the motivation is, the "civil war" aspect resulting from the fallout over the Accords is entertaining and shown on-screen very well.
A second quibble is the strangely thin revenge plot. In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, a country named Sokovia (generic slavic sounding place) ends up totally demolished. People died in the attack that the Avengers ended up thwarting including the father, wife, and child of one Helmut Zero. If you're a comic book fan, you'll know that Helmut Zero is the alter-ego of Baron Zemo, one of Captain America's greatest enemies. In the film however, he's a military guy that was employed by the Sokovians. Long story short, he wants to break up the Avengers because their fight in Sokovia resulted in the deaths of among others, his family. Enter a year-long plodding revenge plot that requires activating the Winter Soldier along with ensuring that Iron Man knows that his parents were killed by him. "I'm not strong enough to kill them but if I can get them to tear each other apart..." is the mentality here. It wasn't the worst plot to surface in a superhero movie (OMG Superman, our moms have the same name so we should totally be BFFs... Worst. Plot. Ever.) but it was certainly questionable. Again, despite the paper-thin logic here, it somehow turned out to be wildly entertaining. In a surprise twist, Zemo doesn't meet his demise so he might be of some use in a future Captain America movie possibly in a more comic-centric role. Who knows?
Final quibble for me would be the strange involvement of a high-school teenager in a superhero fight at the behest of Tony Stark. In a majorly pleasing move by Sony and Marvel, Spiderman was included in this latest cinematic romp. The only thing is that Tony was whining earlier in the movie about a kid that ended up dead because of them "kicking ass" in Sokovia, yet he somehow thinks it's a good idea to steal Peter Parker away to go fight other superheroes while keeping it a secret from Aunt May. Don't get me wrong - I'm so glad Spidey was in the film. It's just the motivation to get him into the fold is suspect. Between his guilty conscience from a few movies earlier and this current whining about lives lost, it doesn't make sense for Tony to take the path he did. While I'm at it, did anyone else notice how Peter Parker explaining his motivation for being a crime-fighter at such a young age was exactly the same motivation Steve Rogers gave when he was defending his not signing the Sokovia Accords? Why did Tony accept it from Spiderman but not Captain America? Dumb.
I think that sums up my frustrations with the movie. As far as what the film got right, pretty much everything other than my few quibbles is 0n the table. Introducing several new characters and juggling all the characters on-screen was masterful. The comedic timing was ace. The fight scenes were the best in a film yet. That such a success was perpetrated by two brothers that before getting into the superhero movie business directed episodes of Community and Arrested Development only adds to the majesty. I can't speak highly enough of this movie and look forward to what rippling effects it has on the MCU. I highly recommend it to everyone and challenge all to not find Chris Evans absolutely dreamy as Captain Steve Rogers.
As a final thought, how the hell does the Winter Soldier always have such luxurious and voluptuous hair? Goddamn if that isn't impressive. Also, I'm glad Cap doesn't end up getting killed at the end of the movie like he does in the comic series. He'll live to see another fight in the upcoming Infinity War series!