‘Captain America: Civil War’ bursts with character, emotion

Andrew Shermoen

“Captain America: Civil War” might be the best installment in the Marvel cinematic universe to date. It captures everything that made the best of the MCU, like “The Avengers,” “Iron Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier” so fantastic, and improves on it tenfold.

The film takes its huge cast of characters and perfectly balances their emotions and motivations. Each main character has distinct moments that define his or her reasoning. The action scenes are dynamic and interesting, characters doing unexpected things with their powers to liven up the action.

The emotional stakes of the film are very high, as our favorite characters battle in favor of their side. The performances are top-notch, some of them being the best performances in the series. It is probably the most mature of the MCU lineup, investigating emotional territory that has never been seen in the films before.

After the events of Age of Ultron, the world has a new team of Avengers, still lead by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) a.k.a. Captain America. The team has lost Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) who has taken a break from being Iron Man to help fund different humanitarian and college programs.

Rogers and the Avengers crew get into trouble when a mission in Lagos goes south. The United Nations begins the early drafts of the Sokovian Accords, a plan to create a United Nations panel that will oversee and control the actions of the Avengers. Two distinct sides begin to form, with Tony siding with the bill and Rogers being against it. Tony wishes to minimize the casualties caused by the actions of the Avengers and believes that the United Nations will provide them with the ability to do that. Rogers believes that the accords will force them to work for a government entity, and the UN might prevent them from rescuing people who need their help because of government involvement.

A new team of Avengers is formed and is tasked with bringing down Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a former assassin brainwashed by Hydra after he was captured during World War II. He was a former friend of Rogers.

Getting to Bucky before the government can, Rogers attempts to help Barnes escape. Soon after their escape, the hands of Tony and his new team are forced as he and his former friend Rogers must fight for the sides they have chosen.

When it comes to performances, everyone shines. The well-balanced writing gives each of the main ensemble cast a time to shine and it really pays off for emotional and comedic moments. Of the three main cast members, Robert Downey, Jr. shines the most, bringing raw and devastating emotion to a character we normally see as comedic relief. His loveable arrogance and humor still are prominent in scenes, but there are downright heart-wrenching moments where his delivery clenches his role as the character of Tony.

Sebastian Stan also has a great performance. He’s stoic and frightened, but his action scenes are intense and his anger and confusion is seen in every punch he throws. His appearance in the earlier film “The Winter Soldier” was fantastic, but in this film he really gets to lean into the difficult realizations Bucky is going through.

There are also plenty of great scenes for Evans, who gives his best performance in this role. Still, he is outshined by his co-stars and the cast of awesome newcomers.

Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther kills it in this new role. His arc is fluid and filled with emotion. His final scene in the film is filled with so much regality and raw emotion that he becomes the most captivating character in the film, not to mention his amazing fight choreography and that he has some of the coolest lines in the film.

The introduction of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) a.k.a. Spider-Man was also awesome. It is too early to say it definitively, but the writers nailed the character so well in his few brief minutes that I can’t help but be excited for more iterations of Holland’s version of the web-slinger. He may be the best on-screen Spider-Man we have ever seen.

Also, Scarlett Johansson was given a great character arc in this story. While most characters in the film feel as though they hate the position they have been put in to fight their former allies, none feels more torn by the separation than Natasha Romanoff. Her role in the film is crucial and really devastating to watch.

Beyond performances the action scenes in this film were tremendous. Each scene felt distinct and different than the last. In particular, the two teams clashing at the airport is probably the best action scene that the MCU has ever had in their films, period.

Beyond character and action, the story of this film shines through. It has plenty of humorous moments, even in some of the upsetting scenes, which can be disorienting. Yet, the film is still extremely devastating. It is pretty heart-wrenching to see these characters fight, especially when you feel so close to them. Perhaps that reaction will not affect moviegoers who feel extremely connected to those characters, but I found it very compelling. The story traverses the globe and is filled with scenes of awe, but the emotion that it brings to the surface makes for a really exciting film – one that might be the best that the MCU has to offer.

Rating: 5/5 stars