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Captain America: Civil War

It took a while to happen, but I’m afraid that I’ve reached the point where I’m starting to feel a little superhero fatigue.  For over a decade now, there have been a cavalcade of franchises that have flown their way across the screen.

NowPlaying-1Since 2002, there have already been two incarnations of Spider-Man, with another that will be released in 2017.  We have seen a handful of adaptations sputter and fail (FANTASTIC FO
R, DAREDEVIL, PUNISHER) and staples like X-MEN thrive.  Through it all, there has been one entity that has soared above all others.  With the release of IRON MAN in 2008, the Marvel universe was born, and became the premiere entity when it came to the comic-book genre.  Churning out hit after hit, each film has been a staggering financial success.  After the less-than-fulfilling AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (a film that was fun, but certainly a step back from the original AVENGERS), the next project, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, felt the pressure to serve as a bounce-back venture.

I had my doubts as to whether or not CIVIL WAR would deliver on the much-needed goods.  With the promise of new characters within the universe (Black Panther and
Spider-Man are the marquee names) in addition to the ever-growing list of staples, the character and cast list made it seem more like a third AVENGERS film as opposed to a CAPTAIN AMERICA stand alone.

After the devastating events of AGE OF ULTRON, the Avengers find themselves at a crossroads.  While Thor and
Bruce Banner are nowhere to be found, the remaining group is forced to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) who declares that measures have been taken to limit the authority of the heroes.  There are many who view the group as saviors, but others see nothing more than a destructive vigilante group who causes death and destruction wherever they go.  As a result, the United Nations drafted the Sokovia Accords, which would enable the diplomatic body to oversee the activities of the Avengers.  Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who feels guilt for overseeing the creation of Ultron and the subsequent decimation of Sokovia, is eager to sign the Accords.  On the other end of the spectrum, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) refuses to allow his actions to be dictated by self-serving and corruptible politicians.  This difference of opinion begins to drive a wedge between the duo.

During a conference in Vienna in which the Accords were to be ratified, an explosion rips through the building.  NowPlaying-2
King T’Chaka of Wakanda is killed in the blast, and his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) vows revenge.  As the investigation begins, video surfaces of the bomber, and he is identified as James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan).   Barnes immediately becomes the most wanted man on the planet, but Rogers believes that there is more to the story than meets the eye.  Despite the destruction that Bucky has bestowed upon the world as The Winter Soldier, Cap refuses to give up on his childhood chum.  Rather than turn his pal over to authorities, Captain America aids in
his elusion, and becomes a criminal himself in the process. There is a ton going on CIVIL WAR, and while it teetered on the brink of overkill, directors Joe and Anthony Russo effectively meld story, action, and the plethora of characters together in a fairly seamless way.  The action scenes
are bold and bombastic, and remain thrilling throughout.  In a way, this is the most impressive aspect of the entire production, because it never projected a sense of “been there, done that.”  We’ve seen heroes and villains alike crash through buildings, wreak havoc on the roadways (and in the sky) and fight one another with conviction and vigor, yet with CIVIL WAR, you really feel like you are seeing them for the first time.  As characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Panther (Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Spider-man (now played with youth and vigor by Tom Holland), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) choose their sides, the audience waits with baited breath for the inevitable faceoff.  Despite the lofty expectations that surrounded the climactic throw-down, it did not disappoint.  Humor and action weave deftly together as the two sides wage war against one another.  The extended sequence is thrilling and intense, despite its somewhat light-hearted tone.  Even amidst the most violent moments, the opponents casually converse and shy away from deadly blows.  There is still more action to come in CIVIL WAR after this memorable sequence, but this sequence will serve as the scene to which all future dust-ups will be measured.


Each and every member of the cast is spectacular, including Marvel newbies Holland and Boseman, and veterans Evans and Downey Jr.  The latter duo serve as the focal points of the production, and bring genuine emotion to their larger-than-life alter-egos.  The dissolution of their camaraderie illicit a number of heartfelt dramatics, and results in an audience that is torn as to which side to choose.  I also loved the fact that the heroes are finally being taken to task for the damage they have inflicted.  Too often in action films such as these, I can’t help but think of the carnage that these characters inflict upon unsuspecting civilians.  What happens on the roadways when cars are
constantly crashing into one another or flipping over?  What happens to the people inside the buildings or on the ground when the walls start crumbling down?  In a rare departure from the typical good guy vs. bad guy mentality, CIVIL WAR (and now the Marvel universe as a whole) delves deep into this unsettling question.  It is just one of many ways that the universe continues to surprise and expand, and why it serves as one of the most popular and successful entities in cinematic history.  For now, it appears that I will have to place my bubbling superhero fatigue on the back burner, because Marvel still has a lot of gas left in the tank.NowPlaying-5

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

Brian Miller