So I was one of the lucky few who got to see a pre-screening of Captain America: Civil War last night, and after screaming in excitement for the past 10 hours, I am now ready to give you all a SPOILER-FREE review. There will be NO SPOILERS in this review, just my impression of what worked well and what worked less in the film. Please DO NOT POST SPOILERS in the comments!
Alright, let’s get started. You know all those cast statements and claims from those who had seen the film within Marvel Studios that said that Tom Holland was the best Spider-Man ever to grace the silver screen? Yeah. They were all right. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was actually freaking amazing. The whole theater cheered for him on several occasions, which I expect will happen in most opening weekend showings. I had been concerned about his casting since it seemed like they were going along the same path Sony had walked with The Amazing Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfield, but Holland’s Spidey is nothing we’ve seen in film before. He’s much closer to the Disney XD cartoon Ultimate Spider-Man, which is a very good thing. If you are a fan of Spidey, you will not be disappointed.
Next, you know how everyone was totally psyched about Black Panther in the trailers for this movie? Yeah. Stay psyched, because he’s amazing. Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa so well and with a lot of depth (considering he shared screen time with about a billion other characters). Most importantly though, Black Panther is a boss fighter. As in, he rules over the rest of them like the king that he is. Again, fans of the Panther will not be disappointed and those who don’t know him well yet will be chomping at the bit for his solo movie (which sadly comes out July 6, 2018–while you’re waiting, pick up the new Black Panther comic that started last week).
Overall, the most impressive things about this movie are 1) the fight sequences and 2) that the Russo brothers managed to put together an amazing movie with an enormous ensemble cast that shows meaningful character development in each of them. Honestly, I (along with many) was definitely concerned as more and more characters were announced to be in this film, thinking how on Earth could they manage them all? But the Russos, along with writing team Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus (who worked with the Russos on The Winter Soldier and will return for Avengers:Infinity War Parts 1 & 2), pull it off magnificently. In interviews, the Russos cite their experience working on sitcoms like Arrested Development for helping them learn to manage several parallel storylines in an individual episode, and it really shows in this film. Every character and every “side” is developed and treated with respect.
Back to the fight sequences. If you didn’t think Natasha Romonov was the baddest bitch out there before, you’re going to think so after watching this movie. Watching her fight is an absolute gift, thanks in large part to Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double, Heidi Moneymaker, who has worked with her throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Scarjo is also fabulous in this, delving further into the Natasha we fell in love with during The Winter Soldier. From the large scale fights to the smaller, more personal fights, this movie is seriously one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a long time. Additionally, this film felt more like a superhero movie than I expected, and was actually kind of hilarious. It dabbled in several genres and successfully represented each.
Now onto things I wasn’t as in love with (disclaimer: I still love the movie and the Russos, I am but a critic critiquing). The Russos and others have come out saying that walking out of this movie, audiences will not think that one side is right or wrong; both sides are equally represented and painted as two completely valid options, which I agree with. In fact, the movie isn’t about “sides” nearly as much as promotional materials would have you believe. This is actually not a critique on the movie, because I think they did very well with their treatment of the whole “sides” thing, but a critique on the obsessive push to #ChooseASide in the marketing campaign. If you go into this movie hoping that one side will win and one side will lose, you’re not understanding the story or characters at all. It’s not about “sides,” and I wish that was more clear from the get-go.
And finally, Captain America. You may have been reading along wondering, “hey, this is a Captain America movie review and you haven’t even mentioned Captain America! What gives?” Well that is because sadly, he was one of the least developed characters in this movie. If you know me, you know that Captain America is my jam, and The Winter Soldier is pretty much my favorite movie of the past 5 years (at least). So obviously, I went into this movie expecting something great–and I got it, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Again, the Russos have many times reassured fans that this is not an Avengers movie, but a Cap movie first and foremost. But let me tell you what it really is: an Avengers movie with Cap as the protagonist. He may push the story forward, but with the time dedicated to each of the other characters, there’s just not enough Captain America for a movie called Captain America.
The major thing that fell by the wayside in my opinion was Steve’s relationship with Bucky. It’s there, to
be sure, but for how much of the story is hinged upon their unbreakable bond, the emotional weight of the film is placed elsewhere. Perhaps my opinion will change upon second (or third or fourth) viewing, but for now, I’ll admit I’m a bit disappointed. The relationship that receives the heaviest emotional weight is between Steve and Tony–a relationship that needed more development, because before this film, I barely bought them as friends at all. Of course, this relationship needed emphasis because otherwise nobody would care if they were fighting, but I still feel slighted that the Steve-Bucky friendship was put on the second shelf.
Other than that, the film was truly exceptional and I think many will cite it as the best Marvel film to date. Beautifully written, directed, acted and scored, it really is more than a good superhero movie. It’s a good movie.
Captain America: Civil War comes out on May 6th. Get your tickets now!