After what seems like an eternity of waiting, Captain America: Civil War is finally upon us, coming to theaters with very lofty expectations. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is nearing an interesting impasse, with the introduction of more cosmic members of the universe (Dr. Strange in November), and the impending return of some galactic friends (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 next summer), so this may be the last time the universe is grounded on Earth. There’s also the case of most rabid comic book fans knowing exactly what the name “Civil War” entails. The original story was a little messy, changing the allegiances and personalities of some characters in a way to stretch out drama. It also contained a very huge death that shook the universe for a very long time. The movie, thankfully, doesn’t fall into the same issues—and the introduction of some long awaited and long speculated characters makes the movie its own story.
However, that isn’t to say there are no issues with it. Here are five things that Captain America: Civil War did right, and five things that didn’t quite land the way they should have.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.
What It Got Right
Manages to Improve Upon the Source Material: A lot of comic fans will agree—Civil War was a huge disappointment storywise. Having a mash-up of superheroes fighting should have be a home run, but narratively it just didn’t work—the heroes would make wholly unbelievable changes in characterization and motive, and Tony Stark was legitimately terrible. The MCU adaptation streamlines the idea a little, if not completely going against the original storyline in the comics. The “Superhero Registration” story beats are still prevalent, but the heart of movie is the relationship between Captain America, Bucky “Winter Soldier” Barnes, and Tony Stark. While Age of Ultron played really loose with the themes of the source material, Civil War is a complete departure, and it feels better and completely fresh in doing so. Both #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan have legitimate points, and unlike the comic book version, you won’t feel like an awful person for teaming with either side.
SPIDER-MAN: The inclusion of our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man into Civil War and into the Marvel Cinematic Universe was one of the biggest “will they/won’t they?” stories in comic book movie history. Spidey was an integral part of the comic book version of this storyline, so it seemed only right that Sony and Marvel/Disney bury the hatchet and give fans a fresh new start on the webslinger, with less Jamie Foxx in blue makeup. I’m glad to say that Spider-Man completely works in the amount of time he’s given in Civil War. He’s wisecracking, scene-stealing, and most of all, he seems like he’s going to be a big deal. Major props go to Tom Holland as well, for turning a big skeptic like myself into a believer.
The Airport Fight Scene: This scene is going to make you lose your shit. The hyped battle between Cap’s New Avengers and Tony Stark’s ragtag group of heroes is going to go down as one of the most memorable scenes in the Marvel Cinematic canon. It’s equal parts hilarious and brutal—as the characters we have come to love over the past decade finally throw down and have some of the most amazing banter ever. This is one of the many scenes where the fight choreography and the direction of the Russo Brothers comes together in absolute nirvana. Everything here makes sense, and it plays out like the big battle that you imagined with your action figures as a child.
Black Panther: Even if you take away the aforementioned airport scene, Black Panther is worth the price of admission. Chadwick Boseman absolutely nails this role, balancing the perfect level of calmness and unmitigated rage within T’Challa. His tragic story is a major connective tissue for Civil War, introducing us to the mysterious character without feeling like it's bloating the movie with overexposition. He, like Spider-Man, is also given a hell of a lot of offense against most of the cast to solidify why he’s (potentially) the GOAT—he washes pretty much EVERYONE he fights in the movie (and if not for a questionable decision he could have probably won the airport fight on his own). All in all, this was a great introduction to the fan favorite character. Sign me up for the solo movie, and push back Dr. Strange, Disney.
Set The Table For The Next Phase of The MCU: Two years ago, we thought that Age of Ultron would shape the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We were very, very wrong. While that movie pushed the stories of our beloved heroes at a glacial pace—with Tony retiring (AGAIN) and a new set of Avengers—Civil War actually sets up a very interesting and uncertain future for mostly everyone. Without giving anything away, friendships are tested, and some loose ends within Captain America’s story arcs are cleared up—and while there aren’t as many stakes as I’d hoped for, I’m at least intrigued by the direction we’ll be going in next.
What It Got Wrong
Undercooked Main Villain/Villains: This is almost becoming a MCU trope at this point. Whether it be the introduction and prompt exit of Crossbones in about five minutes, or the reveal of the mustache twirling Helmut Zemo, Civil War doesn't have villains to match the charisma of its heroes. They attempt to give Zemo a little more emotional weight than most, but his master plan to pit the heroes against each other is completely convoluted, and frankly, laughable. It does look like we’ll be seeing more of him, but the interplay between the heroes is much more interesting—and that’s a problem.
Spider-Man Was Completely Unnecessary: Once you come down from the admittedly awesome sight of seeing Spider-Man talking to freaking Iron Man, you start to realize he was completely superfluous to the story. The first problem is that he’s not nearly as central of a character to this movie as he was in the comics, due to the fact that the overall story was altered to work without him in the first place. Then there are even bigger questions to address (How does Tony know he’s Spider-Man if he’s only been active for six months? How did he have a suit ready for him?) that aren’t even mentioned or talked about. It felt like his addition to the movie was a small preview of his solo movie, which is fine, but you could cut his small 10-15 minute cameo out of the movie and lose absolutely nothing.
If You’re Looking for Stakes It’s Too Late: As soon as people heard that the next Captain America movie would have the tag of “Civil War,” they immediately thought of the stakes that the name brings, deaths notwithstanding. And while there are friendships that are tested and even somewhat broken by the end of the movie, the movie played it a little too safe with some major character beats and events. Many times, the MCU is guilty of not really advancing anyone ahead except Tony Stark, and while Steve gets a chance to bend the rules in Civil War, it isn’t a universe-breaking decision. There isn’t a major shake up by the end of this entry of the MCU, so we’re left hoping that the Avengers: Infinity War will up the ante.
Murky Motivations of the Main Characters: Without dipping too far into spoilers, the motivations of most of the characters in the second half of the movie are nonsensical, and only serve to bring down some of the great writing and setup from the first 45 minutes. For example: Tony finds out the truth about Bucky’s role in an important event in his life (in a completely manipulative reveal), yet for some reason he continues his crusade against all common sense. The movie drags to a halt with the decisions that some characters make, stopping the movie from reaching a logical conclusion.
The Ending Will Piss You Off: After all of the emotional highs that Civil War takes the audience on, it doesn’t really stick the landing in the final frame. The pieces all come together for a blowout ending that everyone would be talking about for years, and instead chooses to go for the safe, kind of boring route. This ties very closely in with a lot of what the movie did wrong, but where that "other" superhero showdown succeeded a few months ago, Civil War kind of stumbles in shaking up the universe and attempting to have you asking questions. The mid and end credits stingers aren’t that enjoyable either, mostly setting up future movies that were already set up enough throughout the movie’s runtime. While we wait for November’s Dr. Strange to take us to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe, Civil War is a solid movie that kind of loses its way midway through after the sheen of the fight scenes and Easter eggs wear off.