Friendly Fire

I've noticed that when I write entries about movies I generally disliked, I'll start off by describing the few good points I found in the film, and when I write entries about movies I generally liked, I'll start off by nitpicking the few little problems I had. So you'll probably be able to guess how I felt about the latest Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War when I begin with a couple of incredibly minor complaints.

Actually, no. Let's begin with a quick plot summary. Despite it having "Captain America" in the title, this really functions as a third Avengers movie. Our heroes are still dealing with the fallout, both physical and emotional, of the events in Age of Ultron, but barely have time to breath before another crisis breaks out in Lagos. When some civilians are killed in the fray, the governments of the world decide they've had enough of these people doing as they please with zero oversight or consequence, and propose that the Avengers sign a pledge to be bound to UN decisions. Iron Man supports this measure. Captain America does not. There's also the matter of Bucky, the Winter Soldier. The world wants him dead for his various crimes, both real and assumed, but Captain America's friendship with him pushes Cap even further away from the accords. A rift forms, then widens.

Iron Man is joined, among others, by War Machine, Vision, and a little guy you may know as Spider-Man. Captain America is joined, among others, by Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and a little guy you may know as Ant-Man. And then there's the character without a team, but who is working towards his own ends: Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman.

OK, so those minor complaints I was talking about. The villain in this movie had a plan that's so ridiculously labyrinthine and complicated that he couldn't possibly hope to put it into motion without some major contrivance. Martin Freeman's character has an American accent, which he's not great at. Aunt May is too young and pretty. Hawkeye is typically useless, and is as much of a sore thumb as he's been in the other movies of the franchise. And...that's about it. Everything else is great!

Really, the best thing that can be said about it is that it takes an incredibly complex moral situation and makes a good case for both sides. I found myself siding more with Iron Man, while the friend I saw the movie with opted for Captain America's side, but both points of view are completely understandable. And what's more important, both points of view are flawed as well.

There is a plethora of characters to address in Civil War, and none of them get short shrift. Tom Holland's portrayal of Spider-Man is the best one I've seen yet, and Chadwick Boseman was an incredibly great Black Panther. Really, all the problems I had with Age of Ultron were addressed with aplomb (except the inclusion of Hawkeye, but whatever).

Normally, I'm happy to be one-and-done with the Marvel movies, but the themes explored in Civil War have actively made me want to sit down and watch it again, and that's just about the highest compliment I can pay to a summer blockbuster. This one has brains as well as muscles, and I wish we saw movies like it more often.

Captain America: Civil War: A-


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