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TAC Reviews...Captain America Civil War


Released in 2016 this is number…I dunno…of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This could almost be seen as an Avengers film except it does not feature either Chris Hemsworth or Mark Ruffalo reprising their roles as Thor and Bruce Banner/Hulk respectively, however, both are set to appear in the upcoming Thor Ragnarok. The rest of the cast from Age of Ultron all return with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and so on. This time around Paul Rudd pops up as Ant-Man with Tom Holland appearing as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the web head’s first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Captain America Civil War Poster


This is a Captain America film but it is so steeped in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it is hard to not think of this as an Avengers movie. Naturally with a title like Civil War there is obviously going to be a rift between the characters that have battled Loki’s forces and the artificial intelligence Ultron. The question becomes then, what could cause a rift between the Avengers??


We start off in 1991 when the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), during his brainwashing by Hydra was dispatched to intercept and steal a case of experimental super-soldier-serum. He attacks a car carrying the serum, causing it to crash before recovering the serum itself and taking it back to Hydra.


Now in the present day, and approximately one year after the events of Age of Ultron, the Avengers are on a mission in Lagos, they are attempting to prevent a biological weapon from falling into the hands of terrorists. During the mission the weapon is recovered but things go south and a number of innocent civilians are killed in an explosion.


Meanwhile Tony Stark is approached by a woman that tells him her son was an aid worker in Sokovia and was killed during the battle between Ultron and the Avengers.  The US Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt who reprises the role from The Incredible Hulk) informs the Avengers that the United Nations is preparing to sign the Sokovia Accords which will place the Avengers under the control of an over sight committee. The group are split in their decision, Tony Stark still suffering with feelings of guilt over the creation of Ultron and the destruction of Sokovia, agrees to follow the Accords, whereas Captain Rogers believes that they shouldn’t be governed by political agendas because they are still the best ones to decide how they use their powers.


The Avengers are therefore divided with some agreeing to sign the accords and others declining, the ones who decline have to retire, and the others can continue as long as their actions are governed.


During the gathered session of the United Nations, King T’Chaka leader of Lagos is killed by a bomb planted by non-other than the Winter Solider. Steve Rogers wants to be the one to bring his child-hood friend in but the authorities have orders to shoot Barnes on sight. Rogers is advised to stay out of it, but he finds he cannot do it and in apprehending Bucky runs afoul of War Machine, the authorities in Budapest where Bucky had been hiding, plus a mysterious figure in a mask that turns out to be Black Panther, the Guardian of Lagos, and T’Challa, the son of the former King.


Stark once again urges Steve to sign the Accords before things get worse for him, but bad guy Helmut Zemo infiltrates the government facility posing as the psychotherapist ordered in to evaluate Barnes. He uses the former Winter Soldier’s trigger words to reawaken the brainwashing dormant in Bucky, who goes on a violent rampage, allowing Zemo to escape and creating more of a rift between Stark and Rogers.


Later after his brainwashing wears off Bucky reveals that Zemo was the real bomber of the United Nations and there are five more Winter Soldiers, and if they don’t find him before he can unleash them then things are going to get a whole lot worse.


With Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Bucky on the wrong side of the law Stark brings together the remaining members of the Avengers, War Machine, Black Widow, Black Panther, Vision and Stark recruits a new Superhero named Spider-Man to help them in their upcoming fight. However, Rogers has also arranged for a bit of back up in the form of Ant-Man.


The two groups clash as Rogers and Bucky try to get to Siberia before Zemo can awaken the other Winter Soldiers, and Tony Stark uncovers a secret that could tear the Avengers apart forever…


Before I go any further I might as well just say that I thought this film was really, really good.


It was so great to see all of these characters together and seen to just be dealing with personal issues within their own group rather than facing some external threat. Tom Holland is simply superb as Spider-Man and states that he has only had his powers for Six Months so it explains why we haven’t seen him up to this point. His relationship with Stark is pretty entertaining and his constant talking through the battle at the airport is a particular highlight. Falcon even tells him that there normally isn’t so much talking when fighting so he has the character of Spider-Man down whilst also making him seem a bit naive when facing the likes of Captain America and Bucky Barnes. Tony Stark has obviously prepped him for the fight and told him not to believe anything he is told by the other side. His spider-sense is a little weak because Ant-Man is able to creep up to and punch him without it going off but perhaps his spider-sense did not see Ant-Man as a threat until it was too late.


As far as the others go, what can I possibly say?? They are reprising roles that some of them have played five or six times so they all know what they are doing and easily slot back into their former roles. None of them are out of place and not one of them looks like they don’t belong in the proceedings, you’d think they may be too many of them, but even newcomer Black Panther and Spider-Man are given a decent amount of screen time.


The differences between Rogers and Stark’s perspective is also understandable, Rogers has been in a military and knows that in a war it is not possible to save everyone and whilst civilian losses are tragic they are sometimes unavoidable. Stark is just a man, he has never been in wars before, and he doesn’t have the training to cope with what happens when things go badly wrong.


It is easy to look back on a decision, days, weeks or months later and analyse it, dissect it and decide if the right thing was done, but what is the alternative?? Sit back and do nothing?? If the Avengers hadn’t been there in New York when Loki opened the portal then the entire planet might have been destroyed. Are some civilian losses acceptable in that situation?? That is the root of Rogers’ argument, they are the best ones to decide what is the right and wrong thing to do, and it should not be down to a room of politicians to discuss, debate, and talk about what to do when more decisive action is needed.


The thing is that there is no such thing as a perfect movie, they will all have their weaknesses and Civil War is no exception.


I can understand the idea of so-called “Super” heroes being held accountable for the damage they cause, presumably a number of innocent people were killed in the Battle for New York in Avengers and the losses in Sokovia are the driving force behind Zemo’s motivations in Civil War. It is also understandable that the families of innocent people caught in the crossfire would want those responsible to face the consequences of their actions. Both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have legitimate arguments, however, I think this could have been done a little better than it was. Rogers points out that if they sign the Accords then they are going to be sent where an oversight committee wants them to go, so what is to stop that committee failing to recognise a threat and not allowing the Avengers to go?? Likewise what is to stop that same committee sending the Avengers on a mission they think is wrong or distasteful?? This would have been a perfect time to bring up the failed Shield organisation, that was supposed to be an institution that acted in the best interests of the people of the world, however it had been corrupted by Hydra. Rogers did not make that argument to Stark, what would prevent an oversight committee becoming the next Hydra?? That would have carried a bit more weight regarding why Rogers is so reluctant to put his faith in corruptible government agencies.


Now, in Captain America Winter Solider whenever he is on a mission the Winter Soldier wears a mask. But in the flashback in 1991 his face is not covered. Surely if he is a secret assassin acting under the directions of Hydra then his identity should be kept secret so why the hell is he wandering around without a mask on?? I suppose that you could argue that in 1991 Steve Rogers was still frozen so Bucky Barnes had no links to his past and therefore his identity is less significant. But if that is the case then why in Winter Soldier is he regularly put in situations in which he must face his oldest and closest friend?? To me it just doesn’t make much sense. Plus whilst I am on that point, when the Winter Soldier attacks the car he crashes it when it is in perfect view of a security camera. It seems pretty convenient that the car was wreaked in a location that would give the camera a perfect view of who was responsible for causing it to crash and stealing the case containing the super-soldier-serum. Also when Zemo is speaking the trigger words Bucky tries to break out of his confinement to prevent Zemo finishing activating his Hydra programming, but why didn’t he just jam his fingers in his ears so he could hear the words being spoken, wouldn’t that have stopped his programming from activating??


Now I have done my share of brainwashing, when you abduct humans and other species for the purposes of probing, cleaning your spaceship or just making them battle in various bare knuckle fighting scenarios, you get pretty good at it. Sometimes a person may prove to be surprisingly resistant to the process and some are even able to regaining their memories of the experience when I dropped them back into their boring lives. On those rare occasions it is amazing to see how they cope with the memories, some go mad, others rationalise it, and others try to turn themselves in to the authorities and generally end up in the loony bin. My point is that when he regains his former memories why doesn’t Bucky surrender himself, especially when it is revealed who was driving the car he attacked in 1991. I am not going to drop a spoiler warning here because I am not going to say too much more because I really don’t want to spoil things but when what he did is revealed I find Rogers’ actions a little harder to justify and him remaining loyalty to his friend. I get that Bucky was brainwashed which makes him a victim too but like Stark who has to deal with the collateral damage of his actions from Ultron surely Bucky should realise that he needs to stop running before more innocent people get hurt.


I am also going to mention a scene in the trailer, now my hatred of trailers giving away key plot points is well documented, hell, I did an entire article about it…now in the trailer for Civil War we saw Rhodes as War Machine get shot down (we assumed by Barnes although this wasn’t the case). This does happen and despite both Iron Man and Falcon trying to catch him, he hits the ground before they can, so for a second Stark is standing over Rhodes’ fallen body, his friend’s blood is dripping from his nose, and his eyes are closed…I was thinking “Fucking hell are they actually going to kill him off??” does War Machine die??


Okay, now I am just going to drop this…


(...Warning Spoiler Ahead...)


No…no he doesn’t…considering he was hit by friendly fire this would have carried so much more emotional weight but sadly Civil War lacked the brass balls big enough to actually kill off one of its major minor reoccurring characters


Now getting back to the story, both parties have their reasons for doing what they are doing, but again I find it confusing that no one listens to Vision. He is an artificial life form created by JARVIS and the Mind Stone, he was able to lift Thor’s Hammer, and he attempts to talk Rogers and his supporters down when they confront one another at an airport. As a being that operates from a stand point of pure logic, he wouldn’t have a political agenda, he doesn’t ask Rogers to sign the Accords he simply asks him to stand down. Stark isn’t going to kill Bucky, they just want to uncover the truth about what happened when the United Nations was bombed, so again why doesn’t Rogers explain the situation and that five more Winter Soldiers are about to be awoken by Zemo??


Plus the end of Bucky’s story arc in this film left me a little confused and I have to admit I was scratching my head wondering why he didn’t just do that in the first place, but again I do not wish to spoil so I will say no more than that.


Like I said I did like this film, it was thoroughly entertaining and I am eager to see where things go next, plus Tom Holland is going to star in his own Spider-Man film in the future with Black Panther also getting a solo outing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe clearly has a lot of life left in it and whilst I think this is more like an Avengers movie that a Captain America film that is by no means a bad thing. Captain America Civil War is getting a solid Thumbs Up, it is great to see all of these characters again, and as usual I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.



8.5/10 – This is a really spectacular film, it was going to be a challenge to make different perspectives equally valid but Civil War manages to do that. Yes perhaps more could have been done with Stark’s and Rogers’ perspectives and there are times when they should just talk to each other but hey-ho, my complaints are all pretty small when compared to everything the film does right.


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© Chris Sharman