Review: “Captain America: Civil War” is the best team up in years

In this image released by Disney, Anthony Mackie, from left, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen and Sebastian Stan appear in a scene from "Captain America: Civil War."
In this image released by Disney, Anthony Mackie, from left, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen and Sebastian Stan appear in a scene from "Captain America: Civil War."

“Captain America: Civil War”(2016)
Rated: PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem, and language.
Runtime: 2 hours, 26 minutes
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

My spoiler-free review: This is the best superhero team-up movie since “Avengers” (2012), with great returns by favorite characters and introductions for new MCU characters Black Panther and Spider-Man.  But the fight you’ve seen teased so much in the trailers is just the beginning!  With a great blend of action, story, character development, and trademark humor and a scene-stealing performance of Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man, this is a can’t miss for all audiences who like action… I give this movie 9.5 out of 10.0.

Warning to parents: between the language and the intense fight scenes, this is not for kids under 10.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

Seeds of Civil War
If you’ve seen all 12 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies to this point you may have noticed the rift that has been building between Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Tony Stark (Iron Man)… especially in the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) when they argued about the creation of Ultron.  If that movie was the boiling point, this movie reaches the tipping point, when emotions blow up between the Avengers teammates when they disagree again about the need for a government oversight of their missions.

18 MCU characters
“Captain America: Civil War” deftly balances the inclusion of such a large cast with story and action.  This is the most Marvel characters in one film – I count 18 known characters, but I probably missed someone… just about every hero in the MCU except Thor and Hulk appear in the movie at some point.  Although there are references to the biggest hitters on the Avengers roster.  The action starts with many of the New Avengers in action that we saw at the end of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) … but are later joined by others from other movies.  Everyone gets some good screentime, Falcon and Ant-Man get some new technology, Vision wears casual clothes, Scarlet Witch is learning her powers, and General Thaddeus Ross has gone from hunting the Hulk to being Secretary of State Ross.

Black Panther and new Spider-Man
The new Spider-Man steals the scenes he appears in, it’s the most exciting appearance of all the characters because Marvel fans have been waiting to see Spider-Man in the MCU. His appearance was made possible by a deal with Sony Pictures that will see the friendly neighborhood hero in his own solo movie next summer before he pops up again in an Avengers movie. Tom Holland is great as the new teenage Peter Parker – the smart, wise cracking hero that’s in awe of being around the world famous superheroes.  The movie displays his abilities and powers and sets the stage for his solo movie.  He also makes a reference to “that old movie ‘Empire Strikes Back’”, much to my delight.  As promised, we aren’t getting an origin story here, this Spider-Man has had his powers and has been protecting people from street crime in Queens, New York for long enough to catch the eye of at least one of the Avengers.

Black Panther has been a character that we’ve only seen in video games, animated features, cartoons, and the comics.  Chadwick Boseman fits the role so well and in a short time, he and his father make a connection with the audience and the character, although shrouded in mystery coming from the (fictional) African country of Wakanda, is memorable as soon as we see him in action.  Boseman smoothly carries the characters’ arch from his first scenes to the end, and we see a leader emerging among the newer group of heroes.

Cold shoulder to Winter Soldier
There’s more backstory explored into how Steve’s childhood friend became Winter Soldier, it is a plot device that pushes through the movie but on my first viewing, it felt a little too manipulated to fit this storyline.  The filmmakers want us to accept what happened in the past and what’s about to happen in this movie.  I liked it better when we just knew he was brainwashed in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) not the contrived way we find out he was controlled this time around.  If this follows the comics, please let me know in the comments sections, or let me know on twitter (@aaronlafferty) !!!

Vision doesn’t look the same
Vision (Paul Bettany) spends much of the movie in casual clothes, maybe trying to fit in, maybe trying to save some cost of CGI and the makeup chair for Bettany.  In closeups, though, the process that turns Bettany into Vision doesn’t look as clean, whether it is the makeup or the CGI or both, he just doesn’t look quite the same until we see him later in full action mode.

The fight is just the beginning
About 90 minutes into the movie, the ‘Civil War’ battle begins.  While the previews have focused on the fight between Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man, there’s more to this movie than just the Avengers disagreeing over the Sokovia Accords that call for a United Nations Council to oversee the superheroes.  Much like the “Phantom Menace” of Star Wars Episode I, there’s more going on than what everyone sees, and the villain of this movie is played well, although without the depth that we’ve seen from other Marvel villains.

Believe the hype
The action is great, the writing is good, the story is interesting, the effects are cool, and the combination of new and old characters fulfills some childhood wishes.  This movie is the worth all the hype, but not really worth the 3D price, better to spend your dollars on concessions than for a few moments of 3D.

Don’t leave just yet!
There are 2 extra scenes in the credits….
The first is mid-credits, featuring 3 characters in a location we haven’t seen on the big screen before.
The second is at the end of the credits featuring Spider-Man and Aunt May.
Then at the end of the scene, there is a text statement saying “____ will return.”

“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard, Stan Lee, Kerry Condon (voice), Julianna Guill

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo [“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014)]

Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

The Plot: Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

So what did you think? Please post a comment!

@aaronlafferty
More from Laff:

List of my reviews on woodtv.com (formatting changed on older posts with new website)
List of my older reviews
Favorite Movies: My Top Movies of the 2000s
Twitter: aaronlafferty twitter
Facebook: Laff at the Movies facebook page

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