Main cast: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Sebastian Stan (James “Bucky” Barnes), Don Cheadle (James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter), Daniel Brühl (Helmut Zemo), and William Hurt (Thaddeus Ross)
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Captain America: Civil War is everything Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice should be: it pits various superheroes and the end result is pure carnage. All this without any navel-gazing nonsense passed off as “deep thoughts”: the plot is rubbish, everything is dumb, but look, Iron Man versus Captain America in a no-holds barred cage fight, baby!
Anyway, the plot is pretty dumb, but, amusingly enough, there are enough parallels to the other movie only to make Ben Affleck frown in sadness some more.
Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow are trying to stop Brock Rumlow in Lagos. The villain turns out to be seeking some kind of biological weapon (a vial of red liquid in a test tube, kept in what seems like a low-security level lab just because). Our heroes manage to retrieve the vial, but Brock proceeds to blow himself up. Scarlet Witch tries to contain the explosion with her magic red goo power while trying to levitate the dude up in the air, but alas, instead of red goo fireworks high up in the sky, Brock explodes just in time to take off the top half of a building, killing 11 people in the process.
Naturally, everyone is angry and mad because our superheroes are unable to take out destructive villains and demented psychos with weapons of mass destruction without keeping everything intact. Some people died when the villain tried to blow up the world, and buildings went down – the superheroes are clearly a menace, and they need to be put under the supervision of some council formed by the United Nations! Tony Stark, coming back for a second round of “I want to break the world because I’m an egomaniac hypocrite – YAY ME!” nonsense – starting the whole mess in Avengers: Age of Ultron is not enough, obviously – insists that everyone signs the accord because he says so. The fact that doing so puts him, rather than Captain America, as the de facto leader in the eyes of the United Nations, has nothing to do with his decision, naturally – he feels guilty, so everyone must feel guilty along with him… or he will destroy and break everyone who disagrees!
Captain America, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are like, “Uh, no!” and things get heated up when a building full of politicians get blown up and Bucky is blamed. Captain America refuses to turn in his friend, because justice and idealism is all hot until his BFF is the target, and then it’s all personal. Iron Man is not happy, and he’d rather see the Avengers all locked up as prisoners as long as he gets the last word, and even by the end of this movie, he continues his tradition of learning the wrong things from his constant screw-ups. I know Robert Downey, Jr wants to be in every Marvel movie or he’d release all the blackmail materials he has on the people making these movies, but I’d think he’d at least ask for his role to be written as less of an asshole screw-up. That’s Batman’s role, isn’t it? Then again, Captain America is now a vigilante who is far from the idealistic traffic police he started out as, so everyone’s even in this setting. Everyone’s a screw-up!
Oh, and before you ask – Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t here. Apparently Tony and Pepper are on “a break” – CGI is expensive, so budget cuts have to be made, after all. Meanwhile, Peggy finally croaks, but that’s okay, Steve is so going to lose his virginity to Peggy’s niece, Sharon Carter, and that’s not creepy at all. No Nick Fury as well, as the minority quota is already full, especially with the appearance of Black Panther who pouts and scowls a lot while looking hot as he swings the claws he’s borrowed from Catwoman.
Yes, this is an ensemble movie of sorts, and this time, Falcon gets to show off his snarky side and kicks some ass, Hawkeye’s cool factor continues to increase while the Black Widow still cannot beat anyone who isn’t a mook played by a faceless extra, Scarlet Witch’s red goo powers are the new deus ex machina that gets everyone out of hot water, Vision is a creepy ogling stalker who wants a piece of her rear end, and the MVPs of this movie are Spider-Man and Ant-Man, both of whom are just oh so fun to watch. I had my doubts when Tom Holland was cast as the new Peter Parker, but he’s fabulous here – just funny and Peter Parker-like without the angst and sad faces – while Ant-Man really demonstrates that his powers are no joke. Meanwhile, Bucky has a few good lines (especially about Spider-Man), but he’s generally the snowflake that needs Captain America to go all bro over him, and poor War Machine is as still a bland boring guy in a second-rate Iron Man suit.
The plot is dumb. Okay, the messages underneath the whole thing are far from dumb, but like every other Marvel movie, they are delivered with all the subtlety of a nuclear warhead detonating in one’s brain. You can draw parallels to real life political and social situations, but the whole thing is ruined by the fact that the plot falls apart dramatically if you think too hard over things. For example, how did the villain manage to gather top secret HYDRA information and the resources to carry out his plans anyway? Why are they bringing Bucky to face the villain when they know that Bucky’s killer personality can be triggered by a sequence of words known to the villain? How come Iron Man is not under supervision of the authorities and seems to be able to go anywhere, when everyone else has to be locked up? Why does the villain need to go through all the effort luring Bucky and Captain America to that secret HYDRA place and how does he know that Iron Man would tag along too? There are too many uncertainties in the villain’s plan, and the whole story is a hot mess.
But oh my, it gets everyone fighting! Captain America versus Iron Man in a beatdown of the year, Ant-Man versus everyone, Spider-Man versus Captain America, Falcon, and Bucky – the whole movie, especially in the last hour or so, is a glorious no-brainer edge-of-my-seat moment. This movie is as long as that movie, but nothing here feels like a drag. I’m too busy having so much fun to care.
Captain America: Civil War is far from a good movie, but it is such a crazy thrill ride, I’m alright with it.