Before Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War was dubbed by many as the most ambitious Marvel movie to date with its extensive cast and introduction of two new key players: Black Panther and Spider-Man. Character-packed films such as this can often create concern among moviegoers, but Civil War proved that a stellar story can be achieved whilst balancing each person’s screen time.
Civil War is the third Captain America movie, and it follows the star spangled hero as he fights against the Sokovia Accords, which wants to place government restraint on superhero activity. Making his fight harder is Iron Man, who supports the Accords, villain Helmut Zemo, and the fact that Bucky, AKA the Winter Soldier and Captain America’s best friend, is framed for a bombing in Vienna, which was hosted in order to ratify the Accords.
The film does a wonderful job establishing high stakes, as the Accords go beyond affecting the parameters of crimefighting and harshly impact the very friendship between Captain America and Iron Man. The fate of the Avengers lies in the balance, and Cap is forced to make difficult decisions– whether to fight for what he believes in or preserve his team, whether to stay loyal to his old friend or his new one. It’s interesting to see Cap, a by-the-books man of great moral integrity, show a bit of gray area as he goes against the law and becomes a criminal.
Along with wonderful character development and interaction, the combat sequences are extremely well done. The airport fight scene, in particular, is one of Marvel’s best action bits to date. It’s dynamic, exhilarating, and fun despite the emotional stakes, and every hero has a chance to shine and show their prowess. The part in which Team Iron Man and Team Captain America run to each other and then clash is beautifully shot, and I still remember the feeling of pure nerd bliss that ran through me when it unfolded before my eyes.
This film is also noteworthy for its introduction of Spider-Man and Black Panther. It’s impressive to see Spider-Man introduced in a way that effectively focuses on his youth and struggle with his burgeoning powers without rehashing the Uncle Ben and spider bite origin story. Fans fall in love with Spider-Man instantly, just as they do with Black Panther, who is a force to be reckoned with and has an incredible character arch as he goes from vengeful and hateful to compassionate and understanding. These qualities would later be developed in the hero’s solo movie, so it was a wise decision to hold Black Panther until after Civil War.
As for the villain, Zemo is not a traditional Marvel foe because he doesn’t actually fight the hero and instead pulls the strings behind the scenes, and while that makes him somewhat unique, he’s still not a standout like Loki or Killmonger. But fans surely care more about Cap vs Iron Man than Cap vs Zemo, anyway, as that’s where the true conflict is– even before Zemo is introduced. The scene in which Iron Man discovers Bucky killed his parents is the moment when the Cap vs Iron Man conflict boils over, and it makes for a scene that is filled with raw emotion.
Civil War is among Marvel’s best in its canon, and it measures up to the equally wonderful Captain America: Winter Soldier, which was no easy task considering the second movie’s success. With the talented cast and directing duo of the Russo brothers, this film met all expectations when it hit theaters, and it continues to serve as a beloved superhero film that can be watched time and time again.