by Coop Cooper
Steve “Captain America” Rogers (Chris Evans) and The Avengers attempt to stop Brock “Crossbones” Rumlow (Frank Grillo) from obtaining a destructive chemical weapon in Lagos, Nigeria and inadvertently cause some serious collateral damage. Fed up with the lack of oversight and the chain of destruction left behind after The Avengers’ battles, the UN introduces an accord to restrain the actions of the team. Tony “Iron Man” Stark, having been reminded of his own failures by a mysterious woman (Alfrie Woodard), decides to support the accord, while Rogers opposes it due to his old-fashioned principles.
As each individual Avenger begins taking a side on the issue, the UN Council is bombed, killing the author of the accord, King T’Chaka of Wakanda, Africa. Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes is blamed for the attack and T’Chaka’s son Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) vows revenge as his super-powered alter ego, Black Panther. Rogers believes Barnes was framed and goes rogue to find him and together they must go on the run from Stark who has the authorities hunting for them both. Stark recruits a talented teenager to his team, Peter “Spider-Man” Parker (Tom Holland), while a hidden villain, Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) stays one step ahead of everyone.
To say it’s a convoluted plot is an understatement. The narrative is full of holes with many parts making no logical sense whatsoever. There are too many characters with too many dangling threads, but “Civil War” still manages to be one of the most fun Marvel films so far.
What doesn’t work: Zemo’s ultimate plan made no sense and had almost no chance of working in the way he executed it. He certainly wasn’t the same type of ‘Baron Zemo’ from the comics so I felt his villainy was wasted. Certain plot points didn’t add up, particularly Stark’s inexplicable identifying of Parker as Spider-Man or why he even needed him in the first place – but Marvel rented the rights from Sony so they darn well better use him sooner than later. Stark figuring out his identity is glossed over, but if anybody could have figured it out, it would have been Stark or Parker’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). The Vision (Paul Bettany) is given very little to do except babysit The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Their characters will eventually get married, but Vision comes across as a creep in this film who can’t seem to decide if he likes humanity or is superior to it. Plus he is so conspicuous, he seems only suited for big battles which makes his usefulness limited in this storyline – plus I don’t think the writers know what to do with him. Crossbones could have been a big bad like he was meant to be in the comics, but in the film he was merely a disposable heavy. There is so much wrong with the plot, I don’t even know where to begin, but the film is so entertaining, it doesn’t give you a second to think about it.
What works: Acting, characterization and hero vs. hero action. As extraneous as he is, Spider-Man is a lot of fun, especially his chummy friendship with Stark and his nervous banter on the battlefield. Black Panther was a big hit and is sure to become a fan favorite when his standalone film releases next year. Ant-Man’s new power is sure to surprise many viewers. Spider-Man’s reaction to it is hysterical and his solution to defeat it is hilarious inspired by that “really old movie, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.” Sharon “Agent 13” Carter (Emily VanCamp) and her blossoming relationship with Steve was a pleasant surprise and makes for some touching and at least one funny moment between Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The final fight between Iron Man and Captain America feels forced, but it is as thrilling and spectacular as I imagined. One of the staples of the Avengers comics is how often the heroes fight each other and this felt like a homage to all those moments. The inclusion of Thor and The Hulk would have been too destructive and overpowered for a fight like this so their absence feels appropriate. Besides, Hulk will play a large part in the next “Thor” movie so they will eventually get their due process. Clint “Hawkeye” Barton’s entrance into the movie felt a bit tardy and I was confused about his loyalties until I remembered that Scarlet Witch’s late brother Quicksilver saved him in the last Avengers movie, so therefore he owed her that debt. Nothing else would have caused him to turn against his oldest friend, Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) so easily. Sam “The Falcon” Wilson (Anthony Mackie) also became more useful this time, especially considering Stark must have upgraded his flight suit to help fare better in battles versus super-folk. He is more like an espionage-level Iron Man and it didn’t hurt that Mackie manages to give him a heart as well.
For all it’s flaws, this film never takes itself too seriously as “Batman v. Superman” did so watching it is a far more pleasant experience. Sure, it suffers from a case of too-many-characters, but don’t expect that to change. “The Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2” will add many more heroes and villains to the roster. “Civil War” wasn’t destined to be as tight and perfect as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, but I can live with that. Like many others, I’m happy Marvel is getting enough details right to please the fans, if not all the critics.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars