Marvel Studios 146 Mins. PG-13
Is this the best Marvel movie yet? We think it ranks up as one of the top even though it’s the longest one yet at just under 2 and half hours! This one’s about something everyone can relate to. What if you had to take sides against family members, or better yet, against your best friends. And what if those turned out to be super heroes with powers that could really mess you up? Who’s side would you choose in a superhero Civil War? Captain America or Iron Man? The story picks up the narrative from the last encounter in Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan.
The issue is if and when super heroes need government oversight and supervision? That is the core issue The Avengers face in this film in order to save the world in their previous missions in multiple films where innocent people died when they got caught in the mayhem. Now the U.S. government (Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross play by William Hurt) pushes for the Anti-Hero Registration Act to reign in the Avengers and require permission to carry out missions. Chris Evans as Captain America is loaded for bear and ready to rumble. Iron Man, played by the sharp tongued Robert Downey Jr., is reluctant to go in guns blazing.
Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo who also directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, said they worked on the script for a whole year to get every detail. It’s paid off. There are a lot of threads going on at once, but the characters each get their moments.
Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans describe the dynamic between Iron Man/Tony Stark and Captain America/Steve Rogers as a marriage: It’s like they love each other, but they describe it as explosive. They have the same goal but different ways to get there. Downey, Jr. calls Civil War the smart, sexy, Marvel idea of having a rift. He says you want to see them have some friction but not be torn apart so it affects all members of the “team.”
That’s when the conflict causes the rest of the Avengers to take sides. Captain America/Steve Rogers played by Chris Evans, doesn’t trust government to know what’s right vs. what’s politically expedient. Iron Man, played by Robert Downey, Jr., is racked with guilt that his actions have ended in the death of children and wants oversight.
The Avengers must choose who to follow and the rift escalates into an epic super hero war between Team Iron Man is Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine/Lt. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Spiderman/Peter Parker as a child (Tom Holland).
Team Captain America’s Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp, Scarlett Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner, and Ant Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).
Chris Evans as Captain America, has a lot more going on in this film. Evans said he had a blast doing as many stunts as he could. He got pumped up and beaten up, too, for this action packed melée.
Co-director Joe Russo said that "the most powerful shot of the film" was Evans, as Steve Rogers, stopping a helicopter from taking off with his bare hands. The shot was even featured in the first teaser trailer for the film. Russo said Chris Evans worked very hard in the gym to physically embody the character because they wanted to test the limit's of Steve's physical strength. About the shot itself he noted, "On set we had Chris straining against a crane holding the helicopter to get this fantastic shot of his muscles bulging and you can feel the energy and determination as he tries to stop it.” Yes you can. But it isn’t the only high point of the movie.
Anthony Mackie says he was glad his character got a little more color in this film. He loved having big extended wings flying, and little drones he could deploy. But he seemed most thrilled with the little red wing trim on his chest on the suit. He thought he looked pretty cool with his wardrobe update. He also gets to do more.
Tom Holland plays Spider Man with childlike awe with wisecracks and sarcasm. He’s just turning 20 which makes him right in his character, Peter Parker’s, real age bracket. He’s an actor, but more importantly for this role he’s a dancer (he appeared in Billy Elliot,the Musical). He’s already coming back as Spidey in Next year’s Spider Man: Homecoming. Holland says he’s always been a fan. Two years ago he even went to a fancy dress party dressed as Spider Man.
The Directors had the finalists for this role do separate screen tests with Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. to see if the chemistry worked with the superhero honchos. And he won. He does a great job and adds humor in just the right places.
So does Paul Rudd as Antman. He’s got a rye sense of humor anyway and his character lightens it up a bit when he shrinks into action.
Scarlett Johansson does a great job being tough, with her moves in the opening fight scenes. But the way it was shot and edited, we found disturbing. It was jumpy and fake looking, more like a video game than a real fight on the screen. Fortunately, that technique did not appear again in subsequent fight scenes.
Is this worth your bucks? We think it’s worth seeing in 3D. Some scenes work better than others in that format. The story is pretty intense but it moves. It didn’t feel long even thought it’s the longest Marvel film to date. Stan Lee makes his usual fun cameo. And don’t leave before you see all of the credits,
It’s hard to get all the characters involved without making it confusing, but Directors Russo and Russo did their homework and a pretty good job. Robert Downey Jr. says working with them was like a creative dance open to input to and from the actors and the both Russos. There were a few people who needed clarification after seeing the film, but Marvel aficionados seemed happy to want to go and see this one again, and again. There is a lot of detail that will be picked up in the coming movies. There are a reported 7 coming through 2019. So you better see this one because it’s sets the table for a fine Marvel Feast.