I don’t know this “Marvel Comics” fellow personally, but I’m worried about him. This guy’s been churning out films nonstop, and it’s taking a toll on his work. The originality and entertainment factor of his movies has been ludicrously inconsistent. Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, and X-Men: First Class get three thumbs up from me (thanks to the help of some useful prosthesis), but Thor, Amazing Spiderman 2, and Fantastic Four are evidence that a train wreck can wear many faces.
So where in the spectrum does Captain America: Civil War fall? Frankly, it sits right in the middle. Captain America: Civil War may as well be titled Greatest Hits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the same film that Marvel’s been making since the first Iron Man, and while the fans of the formula will be as pleased as ever, bringing in Ant Man and a new Spiderman while also introducing Black Panther to the MCU isn’t enough to disguise that Captain America: Civil War is another verse, same as the first.
Civil War finds the Avengers coming apart at the seams. The world has taken notice of the collateral damage incurred in the first two Avengers films, when the team took part in massive battles to save all of mankind. Despite fending off a variety of apocalypses, the government wants to hold the Avengers responsible for the deaths and destructions that occur when they’re fighting. The issue divides Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) to the point of conflict: the former supports the new “Hero Registration Act,” whereas the latter thinks it’s bunk. When a new villain appears, Stark and Cap find themselves gathering allies to save the world while also battling their former friends.
Right off the bat, Captain America: Civil War fails to make Tony Stark’s stance seem reasonable. There are some respectable attempts, including one scene early on in the film in which a woman confronts Stark, holding him responsible for the death of her son, who was a victim of one of the Avengers’ battles. But on the other hand, much of the destruction caused by the Avengers occurred when they fought to save humanity, first from aliens, and later from Ultron and the city he’d transformed into a world-ending meteor. At the risk of sounding cruel, condemning the Avengers in that scenario would be like demanding an apology from a fireman who, while saving your cat from a burning building, broke a window. Tony Stark is supposed to be a genius, but instead, he comes across as an illogical moron. Captain America: Civil War crafts moral ambiguity with the deftness of an elephant doing origami.
Fortunately, the film delivers where all of the MCU movies deliver: big-budget action. One high point was the climactic showdown between Captain America, Iron Man, and their respective cadres of super-powered individuals. Lasers, explosions, and somewhat family-friendly violence abound in their chaotic confrontation. And Civil War has a charming sense of humor, as evidenced by a scene in which Captain America kisses a friend and Shield Agent and turns to see Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) grinning at him and nodding with support.
Ultimately, Captain America: Civil War entertains but doesn’t impress. If you haven’t tired of the Marvel formula, Civil War will scratch your superhero itch. But for me, Civil War feels like the same film I’ve seen countless times before. I believe that Marvel has the potential to create at least one more truly unique and inspired superhero film, but Captain America: Civil War is not that film.
*images from forbes.com, denofgeek.com, and comicbookmovie.com. Video from Marvel Entertainment