'Captain America: Civil War' --A Review

Well, this was a bit of a milestone movie for us, as I took Little Man along for this one and you know what? He actually did pretty well... granted, there were multiple trips to the bathroom and I did buy an extra bag of popcorn to tide him over through the end of the movie- but overall, he liked it. He thought 'it was really long' but liked seeing Spiderman. (No idea where he's picked up Spiderman from, but of all the superheroes out there, he seems to mention Spiderman the most.) He liked it! So there's that...

Thankfully, potty trips didn't seem to deprive me of too many important plot points and the overall movie was incredible. In fact, of all the Marvel 'movie trilogies' there have been so far, Captain America probably ranks as my favorite (at least for now)* and they've saved the best for last and then some.

The movie opens with Captain America and Iron Man in two very different places: Captain America is still leading the Avengers (Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine) and they're in Nigeria, trying to capture Crossbones who's after a biological weapon. They manage to secure the biological weapon, but when Crossbones tries to blow himself up to take out Captain America, Scarlet Witch elevates him into the air a little too quickly and the resulting blast takes out a hefty chunk of a nearby building. (Which sucks, but given the alternative was blowing Captain America, herself, and a very crowded marketplace I think it was a 'six of one half a dozen of the other' type of thing.) It proves to be a bad deal though, since a delegation from the reclusive African nation of Wakanda are killed.

Iron Man is still adrift. Trying to wrestle with the consequences of his actions in the wake of creating Ultron (and wrecking a whole country in the process) he's confronted by a mother (Alfre Woodard) after an MIT symposium who tells him her son had been killed in Sokovia and wants to know who's going to avenge him...  that turns out to be a real punch in the gut for Iron Man, because when in the wake of the bombing in Nigeria, the nations of the world demand some rules for the Avengers and how they're used, Iron Man decides that he's onboard.  Captain America, however, is dubious and ultimately unwilling to sign the new 'Sokovia Accords.'

When the signing ceremony is disrupted by a bomb that kills the King of Wakanda and Captain America's old friend Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) is implicated, the conflict springs to life, as Cap sets out to bring his friend in by himself and Iron Man and Company try to do things their way- and a new player T'Challa, the new King of Wakanda and now assuming the mantle of Black Panther (played to absolute perfection by Chadwick Boseman) sets his sights on tracking down the Winter Soldier as revenge for his father's death.

Captain America, convinced of Bucky's innocence goes underground and assembles his team. Iron Man, now prodded back into his suit at Cap's actions assembles his team (including Spiderman!) and the ultimate superhero showdown happens and it's amazing! But when Bucky and Cap escape to track down final proof of his innocence, the truth that the find may create a permanent rift between the two groups of heroes and the consequences of that remain to be seen.

(I think that's pretty spoiler-free, all in all, don't you?)

Anyway: where to begin with this movie? If Batman v Superman was also supposed to be an exploration of the consequences of Superman's fight with Zod at the end of Man of Steel (admittedly, I haven't seen it yet- but I've read enough reviews to glean that much) then Captain America: Civil War takes the exploration of the consequences of superheroics to a deeper and more satisfying level. This isn't just about the damage they leave in their wake. It's about the personal cost as well (with Scarlet Witch wrestling with her mistake at the start of the movie, the whole existence of Crossbones after Cap 'dropped a building on his face.' T'Challa's drive for revenge in the wake of the death of his father...) personal choices and consequences run throughout this movie- so it's a theme explored on both the micro and macro level which makes for an ultimately more satisfying narrative.

I have no earthly idea how the Russo Brothers (who directed this magnificent piece of cinema) managed to keep the insane number of superheroes straight and keep this thing from becoming an ugly trainwreck, but they did. There's balance here...  no superhero gets short changed or forgotten about (except possibly Vision, though he does rock some awesome sweaters) and can I just say how excited I am for the new Spiderman? Tom Holland seems like an actual high schooler and not a 30+ year old playing a high schooler and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May? It works for me. And Black Panther? So perfect... so pumped. Especially how nuanced his character arc in this movie turns out to be!

Overall: By any stretch of the imagination, this had a very good chance of being a hot steaming mess. The fact that it wasn't and the fact that it was a genuinely good movie- even if, perhaps, it was a wee bit too long for a four year old, should tell you all you need to know. This was probably the best Marvel movie yet and it sets up so many exciting things to come. Marvel will, undoubtedly, continue to take my money for a years to come. **** out of ****


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