The 400 Word Review - Captain America: Civil War
By Sean Collier
May 9, 2016
I’m not sure which presidential candidate can count on Steve Rogers’ vote in November. But after Captain America: Civil War, I could probably make an educated guess.
Political commentary, or at least meta-commentary, has always been associated with Captain America. The most recent standalone Cap adventure, The Winter Soldier, contained not-at-all veiled commentary on America’s drone and surveillance programs. But in Civil War, the politics are laid bare: Tony Stark is a tax-and-spend liberal who doesn’t think government oversight and regulation are bad things. Rogers is a small-government conservative who thinks that ceding any freedom creates a slippery slope towards ceding all freedom.
Don’t worry, though, this isn’t a debate. It’s a massive superhero battle royale. The politics are just the starting block.
After more Avengers-created collateral damage, Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is willing to play ball with the U.S. Government and the United Nations, who think they should be able to call the shots for the superheroes. Cap (Chris Evans) believes no one is more qualified to set the agenda than the Avengers themselves.
Things I won’t spoil make the latter opinion exceedingly unpopular, and Rogers and those loyal to him go into hiding. Not content to rest on their laurels, they begin tracking down a particular, returning baddie — leading up to a conflict with Iron Man’s team of compliant heroes.
The resulting fight scene (which includes two heretofore unseen Marvel favorites) is quite possibly the best single sequence yet filmed as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s not to diminish the rest of the action in Civil War, though; the battles here are downright spectacular, as directors Anthony and Joe Russo and cinematographer Trent Opaloch have nailed the staging and presentation of conflict better than any MCU crew to date.
The screenplay, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, is quite good as well (despite some slowdowns in the first act). But it’s made much better by comparison. DC and Warner Bros. may have hoped to steal thunder from Civil War by releasing Batman v Superman first; both films contain heroes in conflict, after all. But where the battles in DC’s film were unmotivated at best and stupid at worst, the conflict in Civil War feels inevitable, weighty and understandable. I get these characters, and I’m invested in what happens to them. That’s part of the reason that Civil War is the best Marvel movie yet.
My Rating: 9/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark