Captain America: Civil War (2016) - MCU Retro Review

Heading into the final few chapters of Marvel's Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we decided it was time to take a look back at the last ten years worth of films (18 in all) and re-evaluate them based on how well they hold up today and how connected they are to the greater MCU now that the films have advanced so far into the timeline, which culminates in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and it's untitled sequel. Are they as good as you remember? Do they still hold up today? Are the deeper MCU connections even deeper than before or weaker? Join us as we attempt to answer those questions and take another look at the last decade of Marvel Studios with our Retro-Review Series!

DIRECTED BY: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

WRITTEN BY: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

STARRING: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Don Cheadle (Lieutenant James Rhodes/War Machine),  Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panter), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch) Paul Bettany (J.A.R.V.I.S.), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Daniel Brühl (Zemo), Frank Grillo (Brock Rumlow/Crossbones)  

STORY: As the public awareness of The Avengers grows, there is an escalating concern that the superheroes may do more harm than good. The government attempts to convince the group to sign a Hero Registration Act in order to keep the heroes in check, but not everyone on the team agrees to it. This leads to a division between Iron Man and Captain America, which is further tested when an unassuming villain has plans to rip The Avengers apart from the inside.



 The Marvel Cinematic Universe was always best for me when it came to CAPTAIN AMERICA. From THE FIRST AVENGER to THE WINTER SOLDIER, I appreciated where they have gone with Cap and friends. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is an excellent example of creating an exciting world for numerous characters, without dismissing their importance to the story. While the main players are clearly Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the rest of the cast is perfectly handled. This includes a brilliant introduction to a brand new Peter Parker/Spider Man (Tom Holland) and of course, T’Challa/Black Panter (Chadwick Boseman). To be able to bring this big of a cast together and still treat each of their storylines fairly is not an easy feat, but The Russo Brothers pulled it off.

Joe and Anthony Russo started off with CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and earned a heaping ton of praise. By infusing a cold war thriller into a superhero movie, they created something fresh. When it came to the follow-up, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, the duo once again proved that they are very aware of the superhero genre and how to bring it to the cinema in a satisfying way. The action here is incredible, from the very beginning to the final confrontation. Explosions are nothing new in a Marvel flick, but the opening battle here is quite spectacular. With Crossbones (Frank Grillo) attempting a daring robbery, this is an incredibly thrilling opening sequence. Even still, it’s the personal repercussions when things don’t go so well for The Avengers that really connected. When Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is trying to fight off Crossbones and his men, there is a moment where she realizes the gravity of the situation after a flawed attack on her part. It works. It also sets the tone for the rest of the film rather well.

One of the most powerful aspects of CIVIL WAR is the destruction of the team. After all, we’ve grown to cheer them on as they go after numerous big screen villains, so when we have to chose, it creates a bit more tension. The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely manages to create a powerful tale, one that explores the complex rivalry between these enhanced human beings, but it also manages to find a ton of humor. One of the best sequences in the film finds Stark introducing himself to Peter Parker’s beloved - and extremely attractive - Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). As deadly serious as this one gets, there is an impressive balance between the wonderful chemistry developed between the actors as well as the intense action scenes that may be some of the best in the MCU.

Perhaps the most talked about character to come out of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider Man. Considering we’ve seen his origin repeatedly, it was fantastic to focus on Peter as a kid trying to deal with his powers. The battle that takes place at an airfield provides a perfect platform to explore Spider-Man's attempts to help. And it's a perfect example of why The Russo Brothers are able to handle this material. With Iron Man and Captain America leading the serious fight between friends, Spider-Man stands out as he spits out hilarious dialogue, yet he can still do the job needed. This is a terrific performance.

I appreciate the fact that each of the familiar faces we’ve grown accustomed to seeing are dealing with their own struggles. When Stark meets a woman who’s son was killed because of THE AVENGERS, it reminds the audience for a moment that there will always be tragedy, and the heroes are bound to fail. It certainly helps that the actress playing the role is the exceptionally talented Alfre Woodard. CIVIL WAR reminds us that their are consequences to actions.

In CIVIL WAR, you still get the wonderful established characters including Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow who shines in the CAPTAIN AMERICA sequels. You also have Sebastian Stan brooding his way through Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson/Falcon, Don Cheadle’s Lt. James Rhodes/War Machine, Paul Bettany’s Vision, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man and even Jeremy Renner shows up for a minute as Clint Barton/Hawkeye. William Hurt returns as Thaddeus Ross, the character he took on in THE INCREDIBLE HULK. And then there is the unassuming Daniel Brühl as a surprisingly grounded and effective Marvel villain, the actor takes on the role of a different kind of Zemo. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is perhaps one of the best examples of taking this massive story and putting all the pieces together. It gives me a bit of faith with the upcoming INFINITY WARS, also directed by The Russo Brothers. I cannot wait!

Read The Original Theatrical Review

It’s a bit of a struggle to come of with a list of the coolest moments in this flick. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is filled with them. Of course, one of them I’ve already pointed out. The opening sequence where Crossbones is trying to pull off a deadly heist, and things go bad for our heroes, is excecptional. It all leads to Scarlet Witch trying to stop the devastation, but she only makes it worse. I loved this scene, and in particular, I really enjoyed Elizabeth Olsen’s performance.

Do you want to see a young Robert Downey Jr. argueing with his parents? Well you get that here, and it is a perfect chance to get a glimpse inside the arrogant Tony Stark. Yet again, another interesting scene with no action, just another chance to open up about who Tony really is.

When The Winter Soldier is framed for an attack, he is captured and placed on lockdown in an effort to get more information. Zemo, who was behind Bucky’s capture, is able to get in sneak into the facility. Once there, he is able to read a list of words that were used as a brainwashing tool to make The Winter Soldier kill on command. His ultimate escape is absolutely fantastic, and quickly puts things in motion.

Perhaps my favorite scene is when Peter Parker arrives home to find Aunt May speaking to Tony Stark. Every single exchange between Downey Jr. and Holland is just magic. In fact, you can count every single scene with Spider-Man one of this film’s coolest.

After Scarlet Witch’s mistake, she is kept away from the rest of the world to avoid another situation. Yet when the war between Stark and Rogers grows stronger, she must make a choice, and with the help of Hawkeye, she does just that going against her Vision, a figure who has supported her. This is a great scene, and another chance for Bettany and Olsen to really steal the spotlight.

There is one massive sequence here that you could break down into several great bits. The battle that takes place at an airport is beyond epic. The moment when they all charge towards each other is just stunning to watch. However, I really enjoyed what both Rudd and Holland brought to the fight. Everything here is a visual feast, and it may be one of the best moments in all of the MCU. It’s just that good.

When War Machine is shot down, Stark is devastated at the idea of losing his friend. Again, this comes right after a huge action sequence, and it gives the film an emotional punch to the gut. Rarely do you question whether a leading character will survive, yet this one had me concerned on first viewing.

And what about that fight between Iron Man, The Winter Soldier and Captain America? The second it is revealed who really killed Stark’s parents, you know damn well that shite is gonna go down. And it does. The fight is intense and slightly exhausting - for the viewer, and especially Cap and Stark - and it all comes together in an incredible way. You really need to believe that these guys would turn on each other, and when they do, it’s downright heartbreaking. This is exactly what Zemo had hoped for and why it is absolutely terrific.


Iron Man: [after witnessing Scott transform into Giant-Man] Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they'd like to disclose? I'm open to suggestions.


Ant-Man: [internally damaging the Iron Man suit] Oh, you're going to have to take this to the shop.

Iron Man: Who's speaking?

Ant-Man: It's your conscience. We don't talk a lot these days.


Bucky Barnes: [in the back seat of a VW Beetle] Can you move your seat up?

Sam Wilson: No.


Captain America: [about Bucky] He's my friend.

Iron Man: So was I.


Spider-Man: Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?


Tony Stark: So, you're the Spiderling. Crime-fighting Spider. You're Spider-Boy?

Peter Parker: S-Spider-Man.

Tony Stark: Not in that onesie, you're not.

Peter Parker: It's not a onesie.


Iron Man: Clearly retirement doesn't suit you. Get tired of playing golf?

Hawkeye: Well, I played 18, I shot 18. Just can't seem to miss. [fires arrow at Iron Man and misses]

Iron Man: First time for everything.

Hawkeye: Made you look.


Hawkeye: I don't think we've been introduced. I'm Clint.

Black Panther: I don't care.


Stan Lee as a FedEx Driver: [knocks on door] Are you 'Tony Stank’?


Black Widow: Are we still friends?

Hawkeye: That depends on how hard you hit me.


Ant-Man: [after witnessing a miniaturized fuel truck return to normal size and explode] Shit! I thought it was a water truck. My bad!


Iron Man: [while talking to Steve Rogers, Tony Stark notices Bucky Barnes still pointing his rifle at him] Manchurian Candidate, you're killing me. We're on a truce. Put the gun down.


Tony Stark: [about his parents' deaths at Bucky's hands] Did you know?

Steve Rogers: I didn't know it was him...

Tony Stark: [struggling to keep his temper] Don't bullshit me, Rogers! Did you know?

Steve Rogers: [hesitantly] Yes.


Tony Stark: How did this happen?

Vision: I became distracted.

Tony Stark: I didn't think that was possible.

Vision: Neither did I.


Iron Man: [points one of his blasters at Captain America] Stay down... final warning.

Captain America: I can do this all day.


Crossbones: This is for dropping a building on my face!


Vision: [straining] If you do this, they will never stop being afraid of you.

Wanda Maximoff: I can't control their fear. Only my own.


Tony Stark: They're comin' for ya.

Natasha Romanoff: I'm not the one that needs to watch their back.


Captain America: This isn't gonna change what happened.

Iron Man: I don't care. He killed my mom.


Falcon: What do we do?

Captain America: We fight.


The post-credit scene in ANT-MAN is the same as the scene in CIVIL WAR where Sam Wilson claims to know a guy that could help him and Steve Rogers with The Winter Soldier.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is based on Civil War, a comic book story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. However there are significant changes aside from the division of The Avengers which is sparked with the introduction to a government regulation on the superheroes.

"The Sokovia Accords" is in reference to the damage done in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. The death and destruction that occurs in that film, including several innocent lives, plays a huge part in CIVIL WARS storyline.

Alfre Woodard’s character name is Miriam, also known as Miriam Sharp, a woman who lost her son killed as a result of the tragedy in AGE OF ULTRON. In the comics, Miriam leads a public attack on Stark and company, but here it is a much quieter moment. While the actress is identified here as Miriam, she is also playing Mariah Dillard on Luke Cage as most of you are probably aware.

Sharon Carter gives a eulogy at her Aunt Peggy’s funeral which is very similar to a pep talk Cap gives to Spider-Man in the Civil War comic.

What about Bucky’s trigger words? While they may seem random, you’ll find a few hints to the universe there as well. Homecoming is an obvious one, considering SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING came out last year. Freight Car is most assuredly a reference to when he fell from one into a freezing river hundreds of feet below. In fact, you can find a few fun fan theories on all the words spoke to Bucky to turn him into a killer.

The attack that sets CIVIL WAR in motion has a few similarities between the film and its source material. In the comics, the New Warriors face off against a bunch of super villains when Nitro explodes. This leads to the death of over 600 human lives. In the movie, it is Crossbones bringing on the boom.

The Hydra agent Zemo tortures is Vasily Karpov. In the comics, he was the Soviet officer responsible for retrieving Bucky from the ocean where he was then brainwashed to become the Winter Soldier.

While neither Thor or Hulk show up for the party, the Secretary of State refers to the missing characters as the equivalent of losing two nukes. Apparently they were too busy to show up for CIVIL WAR because of their time in THOR: RAGNAROK.

When Zemo triggers the Winter Soldier to escape from his captivity, the soldier shares an intense  moment with Natasha. She tells him, “You could at least recognize me…” This is very likely a reference or nod to them knowing each other prior to the events in CIVIL WAR. The Winter Soldier trained her in the comics and the two have been romantically linked.

In a nod to THE FIRST AVENGER, Cap takes a beating from Iron Man. While he struggles to raise himself up off the floor, Stark tells him to stay down… He doesn’t. Just like he did when he was beat up in his first solo film, and the same can be said when he battled Red Skull. You can’t keep a good Cap down, as he claims, “I can do this all day.” 

Zemo is a far different character here than he was in the comics. In the film, he is certainly vengeful which leads to some serious villainy, but as we learn his reasons for his devious plan, he is a bit more sympathetic than the dude in the comics. And he doesn’t wear a purple mask due to a horrible accident.

Did you notice the words Deck 23 written in the cube-like prison where the Winter Soldier is kept? I think most of you are very aware of this reference to the Disney Fan Club, D23.

The prison in the end appears to be taken from the comic “Prison 42” in the Negative Zone, not from Millar’s “Civil War.” This is a facility built by Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic and it’s used to incarcerate those who don’t sign the Superhero Registration Act. 

Redwing, the drone used by Falcon is also quite different from the comics. The one in the comics is an actual falcon he purchased in Brazil.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR may be the last in the Cap trilogy, but in many ways it felt like a third Avengers film considering most of the players are involved. The only major characters  missing… Thor, Loki, Hulk and of course Coulson had other things to do.

CIVIL WAR is responsible for introducing a couple of impressive characters. Firstly, T’Challa/Black Panther is introduced and what an introduction it is. This of course led to the massive success of the recent BLACK PANTHER feature. And Tom Holland is perhaps my favorite SPIDER-MAN to date. The young actor manages to balance the action and the humor beautifully. In fact, this particular film is still my favorite cinematic take on the character.

Speaking of SPIDER-MAN, how about Aunt May!? Marisa Tomei, who is so completely different from the previous Aunt Mays', is terrific here. It’s also fun to see both Downey Jr. and her reunited as the two co-starred in the charming 1994 romantic comedy, ONLY YOU. Her casting certainly raised some eyebrows, but I for one think she is a perfect choice.

As mentioned, we see the return of a few characters including William Hurt once again playing Thaddeus Ross from THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Emily VanCamp  appears as Sharon Carter, a possible romantic interest for Steve, as well as a solid character on her own.

The great Martin Freeman signs on for his first appearance in the MCU as Everett K. Ross. I’m always glad to see this fine talent work, and he also returned for BLACK PANTHER.

And how about Stan Lee? This may be my favorite of his cameos so far. He may be the coolest FedEx driver around.


When it comes to villains, CIVIL WAR brings back Steve Rogers adversary Brock Rumlow/Crossbones. This time, he is in full baddie mode. While only a minor player here, he certainly puts things in motion. And this also reminds audiences just how badass Frank Grillo is.

Daniel Brühl’s Zemo may be different than the comics, but he is a quietly powerful force. It’s a fascinating concept to see a simple man take on a group of superheroes by using intelligence and a devious plan. It was an interesting direction to go in and frankly, it worked for this fan.













Source: JoBlo.com



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