FlixChatter Review – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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The buzz over the latest Marvel blockbuster has been through the roof. It’s already made over $200 mil internationally before it even opened here in the US, so no doubt it will wipe out any competition here this weekend.

I have to say that despite my increasing superhero fatigue, I was still looking forward to this one mostly because I love the first two Captain America films, and I have faith in the Russo brothers’ direction. Like Zack Snyder with Batman V Superman, Anthony & Joe Russo had the tricky task of not only continuing the thread of the Avenger story, pulling off a large ensemble cast AND help launch/introduce individual standalone films (Black Panther, Spider-man). Suffice to say the Russos did a much, much better job than Snyder in delivering an entertaining Summer blockbuster that’s actually has depth and thought-provoking ideas. Interesting that The Avengers and Superman share a similar predicament in their effort to safeguard humanity, and how the DC and Marvel tentpole movies are dealing with the issue of accountability.

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The ‘Civil War’ in the title stems from an ideological conflict about what should be done in that issue of accountability and collateral damage, and whether a governing body (in this case the UN) should oversee them. Now, the fact that the perceived common enemy happens to be Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) BFF Bucky a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), it’s easy to see which side the Cap is on. The events in The Winter Soldier has undoubtedly made Cap wary of big government and how a centralized power could be manipulative and corrupt. So it makes sense that he won’t be so easily persuaded to sign something like The Sokovia Accords that’d essentially put the Avengers under UN control.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow: Just because it’s the path of least resistance doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. Staying together is more important than how we stay together.

Steve Rogers/Captain America: What are we giving up to do it?


Whilst the motive behind Captain firmly believing in self-regulation is more clear cut, I’m not as convinced why Tony Stark would support it with little resistance. A cameo by Alfre Woodard briefly reveals the burden of guilt on Tony’s part as the Stark companies supplies most of the weaponry (including Captain himself who was created in the lab of his dad Howard), but still I’d think he’d be more apprehensive about government interference in the Avengers.

I have to say that the film has a pretty slow start. I understand they’d have to establish the conflict and a reason for all the fighting, but it went on a bit too long for my liking and frankly, it all feels a bit tedious. Thankfully, things do pick up as soon as an incident happens at the UN meeting and before you know it, Captain becomes a hunted man wanted by the government along with Bucky. It’s there that we meet new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)’s member Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and he certainly looks the part. This is perhaps one of the most diverse cast in a Marvel film aside from the X-Men franchise.

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I think the fact that the same writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, are involved in the Captain America trilogy so far makes the film flow nicely and has a cohesive storyline. They also did a decent job showing the events in previous films to viewers who might not be familiar with the Avengers story, i.e. the battle in the fictional Eastern European country Sokovia in Avenger: Age of Ultron that caused massive collateral damage. Marvel fans would especially enjoy the references and inside jokes, especially during the actual civil war battle involving a dozen MCU superheroes. This is also the first time we see the new Spider-man (Tom Holland) as part of MCU and he’s definitely a highlight. Spidey is supposed to be a wisecrackin’ teenager and Holland’s captured that. All his comments as he’s fighting the other heroes, like referencing Empire Strikes Back and saluting Cap before he fights him, are a hoot.

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Spider-Man (to Bucky): You have a metal arm? That is awesome, dude.

The intro to the appropriately-aged character is full of good humor as he’s fanboying over Iron Man, who somehow still has time to flirt with aunt May (Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr’s co-star in the rom-com Only You) despite a brief 36-hour deadline to arrest Cap. There’s a lot of fanboy-ing going on in this movie that’s so hilarious. My fave part is when Ant-Man (the immensely affable Paul Rudd) meets Cap which got one of the biggest laughs in the theater.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man: Look, man, I know you know a lot of super people so… thinks for thanking of me.

Captain America: Civil War is commendable for having the right balance of story, character, emotion, humor AND high-octane action. The fight scenes are well-choreographed that you can see the action and despite the sheer number of people fighting, it wasn’t so bombastic that it’s headache-inducing. The story never feels cartoonish even with SO many characters involved and the battles feel sprightly and fun without being frivolous or silly. When one character is injured, we feel the emotion of fellow team members and the sense of solidarity is definitely there. The Captain America trilogy benefits from the strong base of Steve/Bucky relationship established in the first film. I totally believe why Cap would go to such length to protect his best friend and stand by his side regardless of what he’s done, and I think Bucky would’ve done the same if the situation were reversed. I love Evans and Stan even more as they become more at ease in their respective roles, and Anthony Mackie is always so charming and fun as Falcon. I also have to mention how I appreciate Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow more and more, and the fact that she’s undeniably torn between the two sides is a testament to her intriguing character arc.

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The key in making a huge ensemble cast work is they have to have a reason for us to care for the characters. It’s getting immensely tricky here but I think keeping the focus on just a small group helps. The final battle between Cap, Iron Man & Winter Soldier is not only cool to watch but it also carries a certain emotional weight because there’s something personal that affects the three of them. It’s perhaps one of the most compelling dramatic moments from RDJ that I’ve seen in all the Iron Man & Avengers movies so far.

That said, I don’t think this film is perfect and I don’t think it’s the greatest MCU film so far, as many critics have said. I’ve mentioned about the rather sluggish start, but there are also moments that don’t really work. Daniel Brühl is a perfectly capable actor but he barely makes a dent here amongst an ocean of characters, though I think the character’s motive is a pretty decent one. The romance between Cap and Sharon Carter also feels so obligatory and the lack of chemistry between Evans and Emily VanCamp doesn’t help. Oh how I miss Hayley Atwell‘s Agent Carter who’s such a strong female character who doesn’t need any superpowers to make a difference. I also find the music unmemorable as I barely remember any of it, which is odd given I LOVE what Henry Jackman did with The Winter Soldier.

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All in all, it’s a VERY good film that ties all three Captain American movies superbly well and would rank amongst the best film trilogies. After this, I’m even more confident in the Russo brothers’ directing talent and MCU is definitely in capable hands if they continue to make Marvel movies. I love the end credits of the first two Captain America movies and they did an excellent job here as well. In terms of replay-ability value, this one ranks third after The Winter Soldier and The First Avenger, both of which I actually just re-watched last night and I still enjoyed them immensely!

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So have you seen ‘Captain America: Civil War’? Let me know what you think!

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44 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

  1. I saw the film earlier today as I scored the last ticket for the morning show and I had fun as did the audience I watched it with. Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Spider-Man. They were a blast. I think they hit paydirt with Boseman as Black Panther as he really became the character and I’m glad he’s going to get his own film. Tom Holland for me now, is the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He gets it right. He is very funny but also kinda nerdy and he’s so impossible to dislike.

    There’s a lot of other things in the film I like such as Natasha being torn as it is obvious how close she is with Steve and was there for him during that moment where he is filled with loss. I also enjoyed Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch as someone who is trying to find her footing but also has some guilt where that little she has with Rogers I thought was a nice touch where I think Steve sees her as a little sister of sorts and can comfort her. It was a lot better than I thought it would be while I also found myself laughing a lot. Including the moments between Falcon and Bucky as I could watch those 2 banter at each other. Here’s my review BTW.

    1. Hi Steven! I’ll check out your review latre today. Yes I think Boseman and Holland were great additions to MCU, I love how regal Boseman was and how nerdy Holland was, which was appropriate for the character.

      Yes I really like Natasha being torn, I think that her scene w/ Bucky, Cap & Black Panther was one of the highlights of the film as well. I really love the trio of Bucky, Cap and Falcon!

  2. Saw it last night and loved it! I didn’t mind the slow build up in the first half, reminded me of the older Bond films, in fact this one feels even more like a espionage film with all those different locations. I’m going to see it again next week at the IMAX theater, so far it’s a toss up between this one and The Winter Soldier as the best film in the Marvel universe. I’m surprised that not too many people mention Black Panther as one of the highlights, seems like Spider-Man and Ant-Man are getting more love but to me Black Panther got my attention and looking forward to his solo film.

    I love the climatic battle between the three characters too, I thought for sure they’ll team up and fight those other winter soldiers and a super villain will show up. Glad they didn’t pull a Batman vs. Superman trick and kept the focus on the conflicts between Iron Man and Capt.

    1. Hi Ted, I thought you had seen it at IMAX already. I don’t know yet if I’d have time to see it again. I still think The Winter Soldier has more of the suspense of an espionage film and frankly I’m not crazy about the way they introduced the different locations in CW w/ those huge fonts, it’s like they’re screaming at you or something. I like both Black Panther and Spider-Man, though the latter is a lot more fun to watch I guess because he’s inherently funny.

      Yes I think keeping the focus on just Iron Man & Capt (w/ Bucky in the middle) is wise, because ultimately it’s THEIR battle, the rest are their allies.

      1. No, I saw it at the Icon Atmos theater Friday night, mostly because of the reserved VIP seats. You can reserve seats at the IMAX theater now but I know it’s going to be packed and didn’t want to sit next to a lot of people. I usually go to a matinee showing at the IMAX theater because it’s not that busy during the day.

    1. Nice! I know you’re not into superhero movies Jordan, but the Captain America films are so good and even the second film felt more like espionage films than a straight superhero movie.

        1. Oh you have seen that one? Glad to hear it Jordan! This one is by the same duo directors and has a similar espionage feel to it, but it does have a boatload more superheroes. That’s why I still prefer Winter Soldier to this third one.

          1. Hmmm, its raining like all hell, massive winds…. and the cinema around the corner is of course playing it. I might go see it just to get away from the wind rattling everything in my house!!

            And cos it is by the same directors, that is what has me interested. So often franchises are directed by a different guy each time around.

            1. Oh man that sounds nasty! I remember those torrential rains back when I still live in Jakarta. Hey, watching ‘Civil War’ sounds like a perfect way to escape from nasty weather. Yes I think it’s always a good idea to have the same director direct an entire franchise, that’s why the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy is so good. That said, I did like the first Captain America film and its decidedly retro look and feel.

              1. I haven’t seen the first one, only Winter Soldier and the first Avengers movie (which I didn’t like at all), so I don’t think I’ll get lost. And I must admit that there were parts of Winter Soldier that I liked a lot. What I really hate though is the almost obligatory city being smashed to bits using CGI in the final act. Even Deadpool had that.

                You have special powers Ruth, I didn’t think anyone would convince me to see this! But your review has, and this weather is tiring. Time to break a habit and try to relax in a cinema for once! 😀

                1. Ahah, special powers! Too funny. Well I only suggest this one to you as you like Winter Soldier. I’d think you’d be curious what happens to well, the Winter Soldier himself aka Bucky. I like the first Captain America and no city was blown to bits in that one 😉 I agree it’s irritating when they do that, I know you’d absolutely hate Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice because the destruction is even more atrocious.

                  Well I hope you like it Jordan, if not then you can vent about it to me, and I’ll take the blame fully, he..he..

  3. Hey Ruth, great review as always – I agree with a lot of what you say about Civil War. I’d rate it as one of the best of the Marvel films, it does get off to a slowish start but I’m just glad in the end a decent balance between story, character and action was achieved.

    Black Panther was certainly a highlight as was Spidey (although I did miss Andrew Garfield a little but Tom Holland did a great job) and I had the same thoughts about Henry Jackman’s score. Like you I loved the Winter Soldier soundtrack but there weren’t any standout musical elements in CW.

    1. He..he.. nice to see your name commenting on my Captain America review, for obvious reasons 😉 This one is definitely one of the best MCU films but I still think The Winter Soldier as my fave. I just rewatched the first two this weekend actually.

      I don’t miss the previous Spidey actors, though by no means am I clamoring to see the new Spidey movies. I do think Holland fits the role of a teenage Peter Parker very well, funny they went w/ another Brit again for the role.

  4. This one’s going to be interesting to watch once the BluRay comes along and people get to really pull the film apart: I think the film plays better to a large cinema audience than it does at home alone, with Peter Parker’s introduction scene coming out of nowhere and bringing the film to a complete halt. That said, I did enjoy this one A LOT and can’t wait to delve deeper into it. I thought the Russo’s did an amazing job considering all the balls they had in the air with this project (I don’t envy their task ahead in Infinity War, that’s for sure) and the film balanced comic-geek action with subtle character direction, something sadly lacking from the bombast of Batman V Superman (A film I *did* enjoy despite it’s flaws).

    Best bit for me? The moment of comprehension between Panther and **** on the ice tundra toward the end of the film, where T’Challa comes to understand that his revenge would only ever be a hollow victory. A great, quiet, wonderful character beat between two characters both diametrically opposed and uniquely similar, and it summed up the entire film in a single scene, for me.

    1. Hi Rodney! Interesting perspective about Spidey intro. I don’t think it brought the film to a halt, though there was a slight pause in the film as the entire cast was looking at him. But I think he’s a fun addition to the Avengers. Yes very true the Russos had so much juggling act to do w/ this one and Infinity War, I hope it’ll be eons better than Age of Ultron.

      Ah yes, that scene w/ Black Panther & Bruhl’s character is a good one. The quiet moment still had as much power as the bombastic one, and that’s a testament to the great acting and direction.

  5. I had a bit of an issue with the slow start as well, but that airport scene…one of the best superhero fights ever put to film. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie 🙂

    1. Initially I was bothered by the slow start but the more I think about it, the more forgiving I became and thus I actually increased my rating from 4 to 4.5 🙂

  6. I don’t have superhero fatigue but am getting pretty close to Marvel fatigue. Until Civil War, which was a blast almost from start to finish. I think I preferred the Winter Soldier but not by much. I agree with you that Iron Man’s motivations were a little unclear and, from everything I know about the characters, I feel like Iron Man should have been fighting against the Accord and Captain America should have been towing the company line.

    1. I actually have more of a DC fatigue than Marvel because Dawn of Justice made me even less interested in seeing all those individual movies like The Flash, Aquaman, etc. The only one I’m still excited about is Wonder Woman, for obvious reasons. Yeah, I thought the reverse POV of the two characters might throw off some people, but I think w/ Cap, the events in Winter Soldier w/ Hydra infiltrating SHIELD made him distrustful of big government, so it makes sense.

      1. Oh, I still have hope for DC. Batman and Superman have been well-cast and I’m hoping the Flash and Aquaman stand-alone films will be good since Zach Snyder won’t be making them.

        1. We still don’t know who’s making The Flash though, its original director just quit I think. Well, I’ll wait and see if they’re any good before I go see ’em 🙂

  7. Great review! I loved this film so much, I’m glad you pointed out the lack of chemistry between VanCamp and Evans because that entire relationship was the low point for me. Bruhl was underused, but I didn’t mind because the conflict wasn’t really about him. He was just the puppeteer, and I would’ve be surprised if he returned for Infinity Wars.

    1. Hi Brittani! Glad to hear you love this too. I never liked VanCamp even from Winter Soldier. I think the fact that Peggy had just died made it weird that Cap was kissing her so soon. I think Bruhl’s bound to be underused considering there are just WAY too many characters already, but I think he still did a good job.

    1. I LOVE the Cap movies! It’s my second fave superhero trilogy now after Nolan’s Dark Knight. I never would’ve predicted that given that initially I wasn’t even excited for a Captain America movie!

  8. I really enjoyed this one. I don’t want to say it’s the best MCU movie because I just saw it, but I am having a hard time thinking of a better one. For my money there are only 3 other contenders for that crown: The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. I think our divergence on this can be traced to the start. I didn’t find it tedious at all, but I did on The Winter Soldier. Glad we agree that it is excellent, overall.

    1. I don’t know if it’s the best MCU though it’s right up there. I’m glad you love Winter Soldier too, Dell, that’ll be in my top 3 Marvel movies for sure!

    1. Oh really? That’s too bad. I LOVE the Captain America movies, even though initially I didn’t even care for the character as I don’t read the comics. But the trilogy is now my favorite. Give it a shot, who knows you might end up liking it too!

        1. So you’re saying you haven’t even seen The First Avenger? I actually re-watched the first two movies after I saw ‘Civil War’ and still love both of them. The Winter Soldier still tops it for me though, but only by a small margin.

          1. Nah, I’ve seen all the Avengers film, Age of Ultron…I’ve just missed a few here and there. Not sure if I’d get what was going on, because I was really confused in Age of Ultron.

            1. I don’t like Ultron either, too much going on jumbled together. That’s why I like the Cap movies as the story is more focused, and I love the Cap/Bucky friendship that drives the conflict.

  9. Great write up Ruth, and glad to see you enjoyed it so much. While I liked it, I definitely didn’t like it like The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier, but still a solid entry to the movies. I felt that this movie was too Avengers-y, but still a better Avengers film than either of the other two (nope, no fan) xD

    1. Hello Zoë! Oh I still prefer the first two Cap movies to ‘Civil War,’ I think the fact that there are less characters in those made me like it more. I didn’t care for the last Avengers either, but the first one is ok, perhaps there’s that novelty factor as we’d just seen all of those Marvel superheroes in one movie for the first time.

    1. Oh will do! But even before reading it I’m totally ok if you rip it to shreds man, I’ll still be reading your blog 😉 Btw, I did review an indie movie last Friday that I think you would enjoy, in fact I can’t wait to rewatch it again!

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