Winter Soldier is the Empire Strikes Back of the MCU. The action, storytelling, and character development is on par with Avengers and better than the Marvel movies that followed. While I was excited for Civil War, I knew there was no way it could surpass Winter Soldier because I have idea what could be done to make it better. Not only does it deviate from the comics, the film has more characters, a deeply political story, and introduces a new Spider-Man. So much could happen and that has me worried. Was I proven wrong or will I be re-watching Winter Soldier for many years to come?
After an accident involving the Avengers in Lagos, the UN puts together the Sokovia Accords to regulate the activities of enhanced individuals. Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, questions the Accords while Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr, agrees to follow them, putting the two at odds. At the same time, Steve is trying to recover his old friend and former assassin Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, before the authorities track him down.
Civil War is what Return of the Jedi should have been as it puts our heroes through more drama and obstacles to test their resolve. It takes everything from Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron and pays it off spectacularly. Character driven is the key phrase here because absolutely every plot point is carried by how they act and behave with the new challenges.
While the actual story is tacked on like an episode of Agents of SHIELD, it takes the back-est of back seats to the drama of Rogers and Stark as they have a battle of ideologies. Keeping with his anti-establishment underpinnings and knowing firsthand the ramifications of government oversight, Steve feels the Accords would take more lives than save. Tony, a creature of guilt from being a weapons dealer and the direct cause of the Sokovia disaster, is content to allow regulation. The rest of the team has their own grievances and start to take sides, including newcomer T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman.
The ideological conflicts translate into the best fight scenes of the MCU. The early spats of action are extremely creative with Cap’s shield, Bucky’s bionic arm, and a host of other elements, culminating in a battle at an airport that makes the New York attack in Avengers look like the party fight from The Room. A lot happens and it does not feel like too much. It is what you have never seen before and everything you could possibly want.
And in regards to Spider-Man, Civil War does more good for the character in five minutes than a single second of the Amazing Spider-Man movies.
My gripes with the film are superficial. There are a lot of CG characters that stand out way too hard. Black Panther and Spider-Man are almost always computer generated in their movements, giving me painful flashbacks to parts of Blade 2. There was also a car chase where two characters are running amongst traffic and the animation looks like a gif of people running photo-shopped over footage of moving cars. It looked awful, like Crossbones’ botched costume. In the comics he was always a regular military guy who wore a mask and enjoyed killing people. In Civil War he looks like a bad sentai villain with a hard-shell mask, power-fists, and a ton of impractical crap on a cluttered vest. But that is just me.
Captain America: Civil War is the quintessential superhero movie. It uses each of the characters’ personalities and beliefs for the basis of emotional conflict. For all the great action and humor, the film is intense with feeling as everyone’s anxieties come to a head. Civil War transcends its comic book trappings and takes on a life of its own as a full-blown personal drama that happens to be about a guy with a shield beating up another guy in power armor.
Go. See. It.