I think I finally got hit with that Marvel/superhero fatigue everyone was talking about after “Age of Ultron.”
“Captain America: Civil War” is the 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the final installment of the Captain America trilogy. Chris Evans returns as the titular stars-and-stripes hero and Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Iron Man. After the world’s governments call for the Avengers to be restricted, the team is divided and forced to take sides between agreeing to the deal or going rogue. Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie and a half dozen other actors also star as Anthony and Joe Russo direct.
I loved “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Allow me to rephrase: I adored “The Winter Soldier,” saw it three times in theaters and marked it down as my best film of 2014. I also love Robert Downey Jr. So a sequel to one of my favorite films in recent memory with RDJ thrown in should be amazing, right? Well… maybe my expectations were too high, but “Civil War” is just an OK movie.
Let’s start with the good: most of the action is exciting and well-shot. When Captain America throws his shield like a boomerang or kicks a truck into a bad guy (someone isn’t skipping leg day at the gym) you can’t help but smile. The big brawl between the Avengers is fun and colorful, but it gets repetitive after a while and some of the action is clearly CGI.
Every character knocks their role out of the park, as can be expected at this point. Evans and Downey both take their career-defining characters to even greater emotional levels, and we truly feel the inner-conflict between these two men and their ideologies. If you’re not conflicted between whose side you’re on, you probably aren’t paying attention; they both make compelling arguments.
The two heroes that really are noteworthy, however, are the new guys, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Boseman is fantastic in everything he has done in his brief career and he introduces us to a character that I am excited to see more from, as his Black Panther seems to have an mysterious past and an amazing suit. And Spider-Man. Oh my god, Spider-Man. They nailed him. Like, the casting, the quips, even the suit, which I was skeptic of. He is great fun and looks amazing swinging around; I had more fun with his 15 minutes of screen time than in the entire “Amazing Spider-Man” series. Very much looking forward to seeing more from him.
And I guess that’s as good a segue as any to my problems with the film. The first act, maybe even the first half, drags. We have to meet Black Panther and Spider-Man, which adds to an already hefty runtime. And as cool as they are the movie would be unchanged without them, and there really is no reason they should be in the film at all (I get you have to remain loyal to the comics and please fans, but there is a limit). The first act just feels choppy and not entirely coherently flowing, and dare I say…boring (!?)
One of the reasons that first act is so monotonous is they rinse and repeat similar sequences. Three or four times we see Captain America sit down at a table, be told to sign the deal with the government and have him say no. We get it, he doesn’t agree with restricting his team’s rights. Also, besides Iron Man and Captain America, you don’t really know anyone else’s motivations for fighting for their respective side besides the fact they’re obligated by friendships or bro codes. Oh, and in case you’ve never seen a movie before, this one stresses that revenge is bad and isn’t fulfilling. So. The more ya know…
“Captain America: Civil War” is a relatively fun film in bursts, and there are glimmers of political and emotional conflict, but it never really gets any deeper than a colorful superhero film. I’ve been a defender of Marvel and the saturation of the superhero genre the past few years but I finally think we need to take a second to step back and exhale. This review won’t stop you from seeing “Civil War” and I’m not saying you shouldn’t check it out; I’m just saying walk in knowing there isn’t anything game-changing to be found here.
Critics Rating: 6/10