It might be the best movie of the summer, but it isn’t the best Avengers movie.
Chris Evans is back as Captain America, and Robert Downey, Jr. is back as Tony Stark, but nothing is like it used to be.
While trying to stop terrorists from stealing a biological weapon, Captain America and his team – Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) – find themselves in the middle of a high profile tragedy, again.
This might be the final straw, because the United Nations, already aghast at the events in Sokovia (The Avengers: Age of Ultron) and New York (The Avengers), has drafted a document demanding control over The Avengers.
Some – War Machine (Don Cheadle) , Vision (Paul Bettany), and Tony himself – are ready to sign the agreement and become part of the system, but Captain America isn’t so sure he is willing to give up his freedom and autonomy to any group of politicians.
However, while this is putting a strain on the team, the real strain is Cap’s relationship with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). You remember him as The Winter Solider (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but when he is accused of a horrible crime that leads to the death of a major world leader, Captain America wants to believe his old pal is innocent, or, at the least, operating while brainwashed by the bad guys (like he was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
Is Bucky innocent?
Will Tony and the U.N. controlled Avengers be able to arrest Captain America and his team when they go rogue?
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo try to make Captain America: Civil War a non-stop action movie, but they can’t stop the deeper, more interesting film emerging about revenge and the shades of gray we must navigate in the world.
It would be simplistic to draw a clear line in the sand and pick one side to be the heroes, and label the other side the villains, so writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely gladly blur that line to show us how each Avenger believes he or she is doing what’s right and what’s good (and gives each one some justifiable logic to their argument). In a modern world where reasonable people can’t even agree on science any more, it’s a theme and story the audience can understand.
All of our heroes truly are torn apart by philosophy and perception, even if they all aim for the same goal of peace and unity. It gives Downey and Evans wonderful fodder for complicating the relationship between their characters, especially since the two seem to end up on the opposite side you would expect from each.
If you aren’t interested in that deeper meaning to Captain America: Civil War, the Russos give you plenty of fights and chases to make up for it. While the action is a bit overdone for my taste, and I HATE the shaky-cam style used to show it to the audience, we do get two epic, classic fight scenes that will define this film forever.
The much hyped battle between all of The Avengers turns out to be even better than I ever imagined it could be as each hero gets to show the audience why we love them for their ability and wit.
Then, we get the heartbreaking showdown between Bucky, Captain America and Iron Man that leaves the audience breathless, and will have implications for movies to come.
Yet, for as daring as the themes and deeper story might be, everyone involved in the creative and storytelling side of Captain America: Civil War misses a chance to take the most daring and shocking steps when the opportunity arises. Ultimately, stories are resolved a little too cleanly and safely. That’s what happens when the studio plans on another one or two or seven wildly successful sequels.
Downey excels as he and our new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) display an amazing, hilarious chemistry together, which helps make up for a slow start to the film.
Captain America: Civil War does get better and better as the movie develops, which is a nice change of pace from movies that seem to be lost when it comes to the final act.
3 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)
Captain America: Civil War is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem.