With Avengers: Endgame in theaters we’re looking back at the previous Marvel films. next up we look at “Avengers 2.5” aka Captain America: Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War is an interesting film. It’s a good movie, and one of the most important films in the MCU. But when you dig deep into it, there are a lot of flaws within. They’re not immediately evident, because the film has a lot of fun and exciting moments. It features the introduction of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to the MCU. We get to see more of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), who have only just joined the team of heroes after Avengers: Age of Ultron. The film begins with Captain America (Chris Evans) fully taking on the “team leader” aspect of the character. Which previously we’d only been given glimpses of, as the two Avengers films were more about the team as a whole, and his solo ventures were more personal in nature. We also get one of the best villains in Zemo (Daniel Brühl), but there’s still something missing.
The film never feels as personal as the first two Captain America films. Yes, Steve is on a very personal mission to save Bucky (Sebastian Stan). But aside from a few moments with Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and the funeral for Peggy Carter, it’s all about the team and it’s all about the mission. Cap must save Bucky. That’s the driving force through the film. That’s what keeps everything going. And because if it, there’s barely a change to Cap over the course of the story. In First Avenger, we see Steve go from a scrawny kid to a self-sacrificing hero that stops Hydra from destroying the world. It takes time to build him up to that, and while he is always good natured, there’s a leap at the end that makes the difference. In Winter Soldier, we see Cap go from the dedicated soldier, to a man who is willing to go against his orders to save the world. He’s obviously right in doing so, because his orders are from Hydra. But still, there’s change there.
For Civil War, we never get a full on change to the character. Yes, he drops his shield at the end. Yes, he has to go into hiding. Yes, he breaks everyone of The Raft at the end. But all of those things arethe same things Steve would have done at the start of the film. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) comes in with the Sokovia Accords, Steve says he won’t sign, he is against it throughout. He would go to any lengths to prevent it, and undo whatever is done through them. And that’s what he does as the film goes on. There is a character who does change through the film. One who learns a lot based on what happens. One that is in no way who he was at the start. Tony Stark.
Civil War is an Iron Man movie, not a Captain America movie. Because Tony is the one we follow on an arch. Tony is the that we see change throughout. His inciting incident is Alfre Woodard’s character telling him she blames Tony for her son’s death. This makes him side with the Accords. From there he must keep fighting for them as the action rises. Then at the climax he realizes that the side he’s fighting for may not be the best side. But the side he’s fighting against, Steve and Bucky, is responsible for his parents’ death. So even then he has to fight. It ends with him deciding, the Avengers are done as they were. They continue as my team, and I will abide by the rules I set in place.
We see him tested throughout. We see Tony sit next to Peter Parker and Peter says the same thing Steve does when he first explains the accords. If he has the power to help people and he doesn’t, then he’s not doing what’s right. But Tony needs Spider-Man, so he doesn’t explain all the details to Peter. That’s why Steve keeps asking him what Tony told him. Then when Rhodey is shot down by Vision, Tony still isn’t convinced that he’s on the wrong side. It isn’t until he sees the proof that he realizes he has to change and be do what’s right. When he flies to Russia, that’s where he begins to change. That’s where his story begins to come to an end.
This doesn’t make the movie bad, but it is disappointing. Because after plenty of incredible material with Cap and the ups and downs of Steve’s life. The final chapter in his “solo” saga is one where he’s regulated to a bodyguard for Bucky. Again, it’s still exciting. It’s still entertaining. But after Winter Soldier, which is without a doubt, one of the best Marvel films, it’s disappointing for them to pivot to Tony instead of giving Steve a solid conclusion. Or at least as much of a conclusion as you’d get from this enormous cinematic franchise.
Civil War is still a good film, and an entertaining one. It’s one that’s easy to come back to again and again. It features plenty of amazing fight sequences. It features nearly every Marvel hero on screen together for the first time. It’s a great and fun ride. It also features one of the few villains who were actually successful in achieving their goal. As Zemo did in fact destroy the Avengers. Something that would have major implications moving forward into Infinity War. Civil War is a great Marvel film. But Civil War is a disappointing Captain America film.