This is honestly more of a character analysis and collection of my thoughts than it is a review, so please expect spoilers.
I loved this film. Captain America: Civil War followed Cap and Bucky’s story well enough and long enough to definitely be considered the third Captain America movie, despite the huge cast pointing otherwise. I thought the many action scenes were fluid and all of the character motivations were clear. The acting was superb and brought life to all of the characters, many of whom who went through some extreme character development.
One of the defining moments of this film was Peggy Carter’s funeral. The second I realized they were giving Cap’s “No, you move” quote from the comics to Peggy, I was elated. I mean, it was a very summarized version, but the very fact they gave a quote so representative of his values to Peggy is astounding. It solidifies her as the source of his strength, someone he can always count on to remind him of his beliefs and help him hold his ground when he’s feeling weak. You can’t stop me from saying that even after she died, Peggy was still changing Steve’s life. I think this quote also goes on to define the rest of the film, as well. It’s saying that no matter what, you have to stand up for what you believe in. Even if your friends are telling you you’re wrong, even if the whole world is against you- you need to stay strong on your beliefs. That’s basically what everyone in this movie is doing. Tony and Steve both believe they’re doing the right thing for the world, and they’re both acting on their own judgements. It’s because of this that I say I felt there was an undercurrent of respect present throughout the entire movie, despite it being a war between friends. Steve, while he disagrees with Tony’s ideas, can in no way disrespect him because he’s doing the very thing that Cap admires. He can respect Tony’s position without agreeing with it. Same with Tony. He thinks Cap is incredibly selfish and stupid, but he can’t argue that he isn’t doing what he believes in. No one person can fault the others for sticking up for their personal beliefs, especially when you consider where each character is coming from personally.
Steve has just lost Peggy- his strength and compass, as well as a very deep connection to his past. So when the news comes out saying Bucky caused the explosion, you can be sure that Cap isn’t going to accept it sitting down. He’s going to be out there searching for the truth, figuring out what really happened, and fighting not to lose the absolute last person on Earth who knew his past self. It’s selfish to sacrifice the team for just Bucky, but Steve has been completely selfless for so long that it’s time he fights for himself. Bucky Barnes is the man who fought side by side with him in World War 2, who was there when his parents died, who checked every alley way to make sure Steve wasn’t getting into trouble. He can’t lose Bucky, especially not after just losing Peggy. I think most of those on Iron Man’s side realize that. Rhodey also recognizes the other part of Cap’s hesitancy to sign- after the events of Winter Soldier, how could anyone prove Hydra isn’t a part of the United Nations? His stance is understandable. No one can fault him for his perspective, just like no one can fault Tony for his.
Personally, I’ve never really been an Iron Man fan. At least, I wasn’t until I watched this movie. For the longest time, I thought his character lacked any gravitas or understanding of the seriousness of situations. I hated his arrogance and his obnoxious attitude. His self-inflated ego disgusted me. It wasn’t until Iron Man 3 that I started to warm up to him slightly, but that warmth quickly extinguished during Age of Ultron. This movie changed that. I genuinely liked where his character went and developed during this film. He definitely appeared more serious, and he was doing what he felt needed to be done, which is honorable. I don’t necessarily agree with his methods, but I liked seeing him take responsibility to amend his past. His response to the meeting with the embittered mother was heartbreaking, and it makes so much more sense why he would side with the Accords. I loved seeing that he realized it wasn’t all about him, but rather the team. He was even able to admit he was wrong and go to apologize to Steve- something that never would have happened previously with his character.
I can’t even blame him for attacking Bucky. He just watched his parents get strangled to death, and Tony’s response is 100% natural. That fight was terrible for both parties involved. I do think he’ll eventually forgive Cap, given enough time, judging by his reaction to Steve’s handwritten letter. And I doubt he’ll help the government find the escaped ex-Avengers, either- instead, he’ll probably try to rebuild the team from his side with the resources he has. Personally, I can’t wait for his reunion with Steve. I’m hoping there will be apologies and forgiveness from both sides, and maybe even a significant scene in which Tony returns the shield and everyone decides to move forward. I genuinely loved the characterization and growth Civil War provided him, and thoroughly enjoyed his angle of the film.
I also really appreciated Black Widow’s characterization in this movie. I was so afraid they would mess up her friendship with Cap, because I think they make a really great team and their personalities contradict in a way that makes their relationship very interesting. Plus, I think they both need each other just a little bit- and it’s nice to have someone (let alone the man of honor Captain America himself) trust Natasha. When I found out she was going to be on Iron Man’s side, I was worried. But the way it was written, her personal stance makes perfect sense. Of course the spy would go along with what the government wants. She knows that at the end of the day, she would still be able to go undercover, extract information, complete missions, and not leave a trace that she was there. Siding with the government is brilliant- she gives them what they think is the upper hand, but she knows if a situation arises she can still pull all of her own strings. Her signing the Accords is just a formality so they trust her. Of course, her helping Cap to escape puts a damper on any trust they may have given her, but it was a great plan to begin with. She, too, followed her beliefs (or rather, her gut instinct) but knows how to fix it when she “played the game wrong.” That line also goes to show how thought out all of her actions are. One of the biggest things I loved is how, after the funeral, she went to comfort Steve not to change his mind but because they’re friends. She more than most knew how much Peggy meant to him, and she didn’t want him to be alone. I loved how she kept looking out for him throughout the film- she may have been on the other side, but she wasn’t going to let him be unprotected. I’m honestly so thankful that they didn’t sacrifice Nat and Steve’s friendship for the plot.
And Black Panther? Black Panther was perfect. Everything about him being in the movie made total sense. His motivation was perfect. His no-nonsense attitude being a stark contrast to Ant Man and Spider Man (and basically anyone else equipped with the power of one-liners) was perfect. I went in with very little knowledge of his character, but I’m genuinely excited to watch his solo film and find some of his comics to read. I loved how the second he realized he may have made a mistake, he paused to gather and analyze all available information before going out to find the real culprit. He was introduced in this movie and yet there was still a lot of character development, it was amazing. I really enjoyed watching his character play out on the big screen.
The large cast also gave way to a multitude of interesting character dynamics. I loved nearly all of them, but I especially liked the connection between Wanda and Vision. I love how they’re putting their comic book relationship into the movies, it makes me really happy. I also love the relationship between Tony and Peter. Any storyline where Tony “adopts” a fatherless boy and actually succeeds in the dad position is heartwarming to watch, especially knowing how estranged his own relationship with his father was. I can’t wait to see how the Peter/Tony experience plays out during the Homecoming movie. Steve looking out for the youngsters is equally as moving, as well. From watching out for Wanda and striking a conversation with Peter, you can tell he really cares for them. I love it even more since he lied about his age to enlist, so he can understand where they’re coming from with being kids at war. All of these characters were so incredibly interesting to watch and I’m quite excited to see the dynamics between them grow with upcoming movies.
But as much as I liked Civil War, it wasn’t perfect. My first complaint is that I wish there was more communication involved. Obviously, I understand that if they had all sat down and talked it out, there wouldn’t be as much of a story. But I feel like Steve and Bucky should have been screaming much more frequently/loudly that Bucky was innocent, and the UN should’ve listened to them. Secondly, I felt like the “multiple winter soldiers” storyline was a little bit of a letdown. It was a really interesting setup, but the soldiers were really only there to advance the plot forward which, to me, seemed like a waste. Considering how deadly they were and how determined Cap and Bucky were to actually get to them, they could’ve held a little more importance than simply dying in their sleep. I also thought it was slightly awful that Tony went and recruited a 15 year old into battle. I know Peter’s got superpowers and can hold his own, but it felt very poor on Tony’s part- especially next to Steve’s constant worrying over Wanda still being a kid. Speaking of Wanda, why did no one mention Quicksilver? One of the last things the viewers see is her brother dying, and no one says anything about it? That felt a little poor, as well.
The biggest thing I hated in this movie was the Sharon/Steve kiss. Despite Sam and Bucky’s hilarious responses to it, I felt like it was in the completely wrong movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sharon, and I love her paired with Cap. They make a really great team. I know I could even like them romantically together, given time and proper setup. That kiss honestly had neither. The last time we see Sharon, Steve’s completely written her off as just another person who has lied to him. He knows she was doing her job and he won’t necessarily blame her for doing so, but honesty is something he values in his friends, so in his head he wrote off any romantic involvement with her. Fast forward to the funeral, and Steve is mourning the loss of the woman he loved and who was the source of a lot of his strength. Sharon walks up to the podium to give a eulogy about her aunt, and all of a sudden she’s “back on the table” for Steve. I know the writers probably didn’t mean to just replace one Carter with another, but that’s what it felt like. The relationship felt rushed and the kiss felt sudden. I would’ve preferred them not to kiss, but to have their friendship grow throughout the story, culminating romantically in a later movie. At least that would have felt natural and not like Steve was just replacing Peggy. On the other hand, I know he wishes he could’ve made a move much earlier with Peggy, so I could believe that he doesn’t want to make the same mistake with Sharon. The kiss just felt very badly placed, in my opinion.
Also, Hawkeye. Please stop doing things. Everytime you step outside I worry for your safety. The second they introduced his family, I became so afraid that he’s going to just die and his kids are going to grow up fatherless. Please be safe while out on the line, Clint.
I was left with a few questions even after watching the film twice, though. I’m pretty sure I missed something because I’m trying to figure out how Cap knew that Bucky was the one that killed Howard and Maria? Was it shown in Winter Soldier? Did Cap just have a serious hunch after those events and realize Hydra probably would have wanted Howard picked off? But if it was just a hunch, why would he give a definitive “yes” answer? Is it because he just likes to take responsibility or did he actually know for sure that Bucky killed Howard? It was such a sensitive situation and I just want to know the full details!
I’m also wondering if Spiderman would have actually sided with Cap, given the full details of the situation? His mindset of “take responsibility even if it’s not necessarily your fault, and always do the right thing no matter what” seemed to be much #TeamCap than Tony’s. I’m really curious if he would have been on Cap’s side without Iron Man’s money or influence- or honestly, if he wouldn’t’ve been involved to begin with. He has homework, after all.
I’m also super curious as to what’s going to happen with Scott? How does his ex wife’s strict no-prison policy work now that he was just in a maximum security containment center? Did he lose visitation rights? Does the fact he’s a superhero now and was doing superhero things play into it at all? I worry about him! I just hope he and Cassie still get to spend some family time together despite his decision to participate in the fight.
And where the heck is Pepper? Hi, Marvel, yes, please don’t end her and Tony’s relationship! They had such a great dynamic and worked well with each other- plus, I can’t picture anyone else putting up with Tony. And after all they’ve been through, especially during Iron Man 3? Come on, Marvel. Don’t write her off. Please. Plus, it sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow would be down to reprise her role! Balls in your court, Marvel.
This question isn’t particularly important- but with Cap still alive now, does that mean Marvel’s going to set him up for death during Infinity War? I don’t have a source on this, so take it with a grain of salt, but I vaguely remember rumors saying they had filmed at least two funeral scenes for this movie- was it just to confuse fans? Will they still use one later? Guess I’ll always be fearing for Steve’s life even though he lives at the end of this one.
And to end this review, I just wanted to include some of my favorite lines of dialogue from the film.
“I could do this all day.” I love this reference to The First Avenger. Honestly, if you’re looking for a quote to define Steve Rogers’ character, this is definitely it. It shows his spirit and determination, and I love how the Captain America films have come full circle with a nod to his earlier days.
“You killed my mom.” While not necessarily the coolest quote, this line is an incredibly striking reminder of Tony’s hatred for his dad. He really just didn’t care at all about Howard, but his mom was one of the most important people to him. I love how this line calls attention to that.
“Hank Pym told me to never trust a Stark.” Okay, this was amazing. I loved this connection to the Ant Man film, and Scott’s quote is absolutely perfect to describe his relationship to Tony. Hank never trusted Howard, so why would Scott ever trust Tony?
“Step right up…” This was perfect reference to Clint’s carnival past life. And saying it to Tony as if he was the ring leader? Heart breaking. Let’s be honest though, all of Hawkeye’s lines were golden. (But what’s new?)
“That thing does not obey the laws of physics.” This was a simple quip, but it made me laugh out loud in the theatre so it deserves a spot here. I loved Peter’s humor, and I especially loved how he handled being a 15 year old in a battle with people like Vision and Scarlet Witch.
I know this is pretty long review, but I had a lot of thoughts I wanted to include. I absolutely loved this film. I think Winter Soldier is probably still my favorite Marvel movie, but who knows, maybe after a few more watches Captain America: Civil War will rise to the top spot! I thought this was a really great film that captured the essence of the Captain America series while balancing a huge cast with ease, and I genuinely can’t wait to see where all the characters go from here on out.