Captain America: Civil War has been a long time coming, but now we’re here; the latest ensemble movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has hit theaters and the big question is this: Did it live up to the hype?
In short, YES.
(Brief interruption: If you aren’t all caught up on the MCU but you want to go see Civil War, click here and we’ll get you caught up).
The film is stunning. Visually and emotionally, the entire thing is a roller coaster—it straps you in immediately and takes you on a terrifying ride from start to finish, leaving you breathless and wanting to get back in line IMMEDIATELY.
It’s a feat merely to have balanced a cast of eleven superheroes and given each of them the chance to show their stripes (not to mention a horde of side characters who each have something to contribute to the story). The Russo brothers managed to meaningfully highlight each of their internal struggles while simultaneously keeping you on the edge of your seat with the most twists and turns of any Marvel movie yet.
Sidekick Side Dish: Bucky and Sam
Without spoiling anything, I’d like to highlight this particular relationship—subtly hilarious, it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the movie. I’ve been wondering for months what this relationship was going to be like (and it turns out I’m not the only one).
Bucky Barnes is Steve’s best friend from WWII times; they grew up together and have that good old-fashioned bond that’s hard to break. They also share the whole “living in the wrong time” thing. However, for as long as Steve was frozen in the ice, Bucky was being subjected to brainwashing and behavioral conditioning. He’s not the same man as the one Steve knew, so their friendship is a little rocky.
Sam Wilson is Steve’s best friend from modern times. They became buddies and then allies in the conflict that brought down SHIELD in Captain America: Winter Soldier, and since then they’ve become extremely close. They may never have the background that Cap and Bucky do, but there’s that nice thing about Sam never having been a brainwashed assassin—he’s 100% loyal to Steve and is a no-drama friend.
I’ve been dying to see their dynamic in action, and Civil War did not disappoint. Be prepared for some great little moments between Captain America’s two great lieutenants.
New Heroes: Black Panther and Spiderman
With each, I’d say it was an unqualified success. Black Panther is quickly established as a formidable addition to team Iron Man, a man of skills, strength, and character who is not easily outmatched. Prepare to be wowed by his prowess in both hand-to-hand combat and catlike parkour skills. (One of my biggest takeaways from this film is how STOKED I am to see his solo movie in 2018!)
However, the most hotly anticipated new character of the film was certainly Spiderman. As one of the oldest and most well-known characters in the Marvel universe, they couldn’t afford to mess his introduction up—and they sure didn’t. Tom Holland is perfect as a shy-but-clearly-brilliant Peter Parker; his fight sequences are actually pretty thrilling to behold and his hilarious banter had the entire theater gasping for breath.
The Main Event: Cap and Tony
Of course, the most important dynamic in the movie is that between Captain America and Iron Man. The movie’s jokes and thrills didn’t detract from what it really was: the tale of a family feud, with all of the emotional wreckage that entails.
Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, though vastly different, have usually been able to see eye-to-eye when push came to shove. Civil War sets up a conflict in which neither party is completely wrong and where there are people you love on either side. Even if you pick a team before you walk in, it’s hard to ignore the logic on both sides.
I was frankly shocked at how emotional this movie really was—every fight scene was both exciting and terrifying, with definite possibilities that someone you’ve come to love might actually die. More traumatizing than the possibility of a death, however, was the reality of their separation. Even if no one died, a once-unified team had pulled itself apart over a very difficult moral decision.
Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. did a phenomenal job in communicating their characters’ internal struggles. From the first few scenes of caring tension to the heart-pounding final fight scene, you’ll find your heart stretched by these one-time friends who are prepared to lose everything for what they think is right.
Captain America: Civil War has been called “the best Marvel movie in years”. I’ll reserve my decision that it’s actually the best movie in the whole MCU until I’ve seen it a couple more times, but I will say this: Captain America: Civil War is the most thrilling, emotional, and altogether entertaining Marvel movie I have seen in years, and I look forward to giving Marvel many of my dollars as I re-watch it again… and again… and again…