After seeing the second Captain America movie “The Winter Soldier” not too long ago, I was rather stoked for “Civil War”. The second movie was quite an interesting mix and almost an espionage thriller to a certain degree. Really enjoyed it. So I was excited to see where “Cap” will go in his third movie. Now I’m very tempted to call “Civil War” a version 2.5 “Avengers” movie. And I think most of you who have seen it will likely agree. It even does a lot of things better then Avengers 2. This review might contain mild spoilers.
After the fall of Shield, at the end of the second movie, our group of heroes decided to take things in their own hands and formed the “Avengers Initiative”. Which is basically a club where all these super heroes hang out and fight crime together. Since the third Iron Man movie we see how all these adventures take their toll on certain members and especially Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). He’s having problems with the responsibility that comes with the power and struggles with all of it. This peaks in the second Avengers movie where his plan to make the world more safe backfires and ruins a complete city, along with a lot of collateral damage and lost lives. So he is backing a plan to bind the Avengers Initiative to the United Nations. Cap (Chris Evans) on the other hand wants the Avengers to be independent. Both of them have their own motivations and it is very hard to choose sides. Since it’s a Captain America movie they want to make us lean towards Cap of course. Then we also have the Bucky Barnes plotline continue. Plus a revenge plotline that connects to the destroyed city from Avangers 2 with this third Captain America movie.
Marvel movies often seem to fall into the trap wanting to explore too many things in one single film. And this trap strikes here now too. The reason why the The Winter Soldier was so good was because it was a straight forward story without straying away into other topics too much. In this third installment you have a political plot, a revenge plot and a personal plotline for Cap and Tony Stark. Plus the fact that they have tons of characters that demand room and space for introduction. So yes, there is a lot going on and it not always works so well. Not a lot of room to explore all the topics that, for themselfes, are rather interesting. But ultimately feel a little rushed in this film. We still talk about a 2 1/2h movie again.
Another trap this movie falls into is the superhero action scenes. Again very repetetive and too long. Granted, the airport standoff and main fight sequence was quite fun. They still manage to include surprises but how long will that work for them? Well, it did here. While the fight sequences do get boring after a while, I still have to admit that they are well executed and follow a certain choreography. It’s not just senseless facepunching. It follows a plan and I can appreciate that. It is cool to really see teamwork play a big part in these fights. All of the characters work hand in hand. Still, after a while you become numb and want it to be over. The quiet scenes are much more interesting character moments. But they often feel more like transition scenes to more action setpieces. Why not turn that method around? Why not condense the action a little bit and not flood the audience with it. That would make the action scenes much more awesome and impactful.
What can be said about the cast that isn’t already said or well documented. Most of the characters we meet here are already known from the previous movies. And all of the returning cast does a fine enough job. We also get new characters for this movie. And all of them are introduced really well. No one falls short and everyone gets their time. Especially the introduction of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) worked nicely. They completely skipped the origin story for Spiderman and thank god for that. Then we also get introduced to ‘Black Panther’ (Chadwick Boseman). Another new character that will soon get his own movie. Civil War definitely benefits from the fact that there were so many more movies before it. It doesn’t have to bother about laying ground work and can jump right into its own story. Something the recent BatmanVSuperman movie did not have and ultimately fell flat on its nose.
When it comes to the locations of the film and me living in Germany it was of course rather cool to see that large parts of the movie play in Germany. But there are a couple of edits that make not much sense when it comes to locations. Bucky Barnes has a hideout/appartment in Bucharest where he is confronted by Cap. Soon they’re ambushed by a police force that has clearly written the german word Polizei on their gear. So it was confusing. Where are we now? Still in Bucharest or in Germany? Which again makes no sense since the confrontation scene pretty much immediately happened after the movie told us we’re in Bucharest. However… maybe it’s a little nitpicky. Literally no one will notice this detail except for a couple of german folks. We also have Daniel Brühl in this movie! Which is amazing since I really enjoy his work and find it fantastic that he gets his shot at bigger productions as well. Fantastic actor and luckily has a part in this film where he can show his skills. He elevated this film for sure. Since he is playing a bad guy that is, for once, not another superherokindofbeing and just a guy out for revenge. I liked that.
Civil War might actually be the better ‘Avengers’ movie when compared to Avengers 2. The cast and the interaction between the characters kind of fell rather flat in Avengers 2. Except in that one party scene and later at Hawkeye’s home. In Civil War we have some more serious undertones and topics that demand our characters to be more focussed (for lack of a better word). It’s not just “let’s have some fun and beat up some bad guys”. This time it’s not really clear who the bad guys are and they may be your best friends. Even though I think that they could have played with that more by reducing these unnecessarily long fight sequences.
would that movie work without the groundwork that’s been done in all these previous movies? Absolutely not. Do you need to see the previous movies? Unfortunately yes. You can skip the Thor, Hulk and Guardians Of The Galaxy movies but the rest… you should have seen to understand what is at stake in Civil War. Is Civil War better than Winter Soldies? In my opinion no. But it’s very solid in its ways moving the story ahead.