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Film Review

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5/11/2016

 

 

 

“Captain America: Civil War”

PG-13

HIV

147 minutes

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan

Your answer to which Marvel film is the best will likely depend on a number of things, including your favorite superhero, actor or director. However, a less subjective observation is to say that Marvel has, for whatever reason, chosen to make the Captain America films its most narratively heavy. Civil WarFor those who wanted to jump into the Marvel Cinematic Universe without watching all of the films, they could confine themselves to the first Iron Man, the first Avengers film, and all three Captain America films and be almost completely caught up on the story.

“Captain America: Civil War” is based off the comic book mini-series of the same name, though it takes only the broadest strokes of the series and translates them to film. Taking place soon after the events depicted in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Civil War” finds the Avengers team placed under heavy scrutiny, as people across the world increasingly view their lack of oversight as troubling. After the latest Avengers encounter results in the accidental death of civilians, the United Nations steps in and drafts a set of rules under which the world would like The Avengers to operate, essentially putting the group under complete UN control.

In the comics, the rules require superheroes to register with the government, putting their secret identities on file and potentially exposing their families to danger, which results in the warring “pro” and “anti” registration factions that give the story its name. In the film, however, since secret identities are somewhat more lax, the registration issue is replaced by the question, “Whose agenda is most just?” On one side, there is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), who believes government oversight will result in wider global acceptance and a check against The Avengers’ gaining unfettered power. On the other, Captain America (Chris Evans) believes that no government — not even the United Nations — operates in the selfless best interests of all, and he does not want to see The Avengers become some politician’s personal brute squad.

One by one, the other members of The Avengers split off into one faction or the other, and alliances are formed. But since all of these heroes have fought together, and because many of them come with sketchy pasts, no alliance is particularly strong, and sides are switched as situations remain fluid throughout the film.

A couple of new characters are introduced in “Civil War” as well: Chadwick Boseman plays the Black Panther, and Marvel regains temporary control over the rights to Spider-Man for the film, casting Tom Holland in the role.

In terms of what the film delivers, “Civil War” might be one of the most well-balanced Marvel films to date. There is a well-crafted, fairly well-told narrative strung throughout, with enough action to keep things from ever feeling bogged down. The airport battle scene is the highlight of the film, while watching Cap’s friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) wrestle with his dark past provides some of the best emotional heft in the film.

It all ramps up to a rather over-the-top climax, featuring a mild twist that feels a little bit forced and overly-convenient, but none of that keeps “Civil War” from being one of the most complete, well-told films that Marvel has had a hand in. The “Civil War” story line will be wrapped up in the next Captain America installment, but for now, this episode should keep fans extremely happy. CV

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