Spoiler-Free Captain America: Civil War Review

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Due to a very busy schedule, and then an unfortunate stomach bug, I wasn’t able to see Captain America: Civil War until this past weekend. This delay gave me plenty of time to read tons of reviews, which pretty much unanimously praised the movie. Some went as far as to call it the best offering from the MCU to date, and more than one said it was the greatest superhero movie ever. Even with those very lofty remarks, I tried my best to go in with lowered expectations. Though with my love for Captain America, and the fact that my favorite superhero of all, Spider-Man, would be making his MCU debut, I probably failed to lower them too much.

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I can say with certainty that my expectations were met. Can I say that they were exceeded? Sadly, not really. With that said, I don’t want to make it sound like this was in any way, shape, or form a “bad” movie. Quite the opposite, it was a great movie. But lofty expectations will make cynics of us all.

Fear not, faithful reader: NO SPOILERS lie ahead.

The tension between Cap and Iron Man (the real crux of the war) is palpable and feels genuine. Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. stayed true to form and played their parts to perfection. Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow was very good in the somewhat limited role she was given. But the real gems are Black Panther and Spider-Man, played brilliantly by Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland respectively.

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The Russo Brothers did an incredible job fleshing out every character’s motivation and each character had their moment to shine without becoming tedious. Which is no easy task for a cast this large. Much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the fight scenes were amazing in their storytelling. The fight choreographers deserve a ton of praise for their ability to create seamless fights with each character fighting with an individual style (Cap and Bucky fight with a very gritty, visceral style, Black Widow is much more acrobatic and Judo-based, Black Panther, while also very high-flying, is more focused on striking).

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The one negative that I’ve read from a lot of critics is the film’s villain, Helmut Zemo. I, however, really enjoyed him. He’s not your typical super villain, and is much more about working in the shadows, and I thought that was a great choice for this type of movie. Plus, let’s face it, aside from Loki, most of the villains in the MCU have been pretty one-dimensional. Zemo is anything but. Without giving anything away, he is very much a product of the world in which the MCU takes place. It is a little disappointing that he never dawns his signature mask from the comic.

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The only real problem I had with the movie was that while for the most part, the pacing was crisp and constantly moving forward, it did tread water for a little bit about halfway through. But once the big battle between the dueling hero factions takes place, the film is propelled forward for the rest of its run time. While the film uses the “Civil War” story arc from the comics as a guide, the two are very different. So even if you’re a fan of the comic book story, there is plenty to keep you entertained and guessing.

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Overall, I cannot say that Civil War is the greatest superhero movie ever…I’m not sure I can say that it is even quite as good as Winter Soldier. But it’s certainly close. It is definitely better than The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone that enjoys superhero cinema, or just enjoys a good action flick (though without seeing at least some of the other MCU movies, you might be a little lost from a plot standpoint).

Final verdict: 9 out of 10.

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