The next report card is for the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) entitled Captain America: Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War—directed by Anthony Russo and John Russo; written by Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Mark Millar (comic book), Joe Simon (characters) and Jack Kirby (characters); starring Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson / Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton / Hawkeye), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (Vision), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter / Agent 13), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang / Ant-Man), Tom Holland (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), Martin Freeman, Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa / Black Panther), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine), Daniel Bruhl (Baron Zemo), Frank Grillo (Brock Rumlow / Crossbones), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May) and William Hurt (General Ross).
Admittedly, this is a little thin. The concept itself isn't bad by any means, and it makes perfect sense for this to be the logical next step, but it also makes the movie feel more like it's a means to bridge the gap between Age of Ultron and the future films rather than its own entity. Basically, the film boils down to 50% the culmination of things that were set up before and 50% setting up new things for the movies coming down the pipeline. That's all well and good, but if you strip those other movies away, this film basically comes down to a couple of chase sequences to capture Bucky, with less of the gravitas that Captain America: The Winter Soldier had. That, to me, is still the best film of the MCU. This story, on the other hand, is something that feels straight out of a comic. It was still super fun to watch it unfold, but I have to dock them a little bit for how basic it was.
Every character is as close to their comic book counterpart as they can possibly get while maintaining the differences that were created for the films. There isn't a lot to say if you've seen the other movies, because this shouldn't be a surprise to you, and you should know who these characters are by now, outside of some of the new ones.
Black Panther kicks ass. I was never a big fan of T'Challa all that much, considering him more of a cursory supporting character along the lines of Ant-Man and the other secondary heroes, but I'm definitely sold on him going forward. I don't like Tom Holland's Spider-Man as much as Andrew Garfield's, but I'm curious to see where they take this, and I think the end result will be good for sure. By the way, how hot is Marisa Tomei? Come on!
You've got to love seeing just the sheer number of characters in this. The universe is huge, and yet we still had room for Redwing! Disappointed in no Maria Hill or Nick Fury, though.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): B–
No complaints here. It's not going to beat out The Jungle Book at the Academy Awards, but the movie looks realistic in all the same ways we're accustomed with these films.
MUSIC & SOUND: C+
Nothing stands out all that much, but that also means nothing stood out in a bad way. I'll have to go back and listen to the score, although I didn't catch anything sounding as good as what Henry Jackman did in the previous installment.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): A
ACTION: That airport scene was pretty damn sweet, wasn't it?
COMEDY: Marvel knows how to put jokes in their films without getting too jokey. No surprises in the good execution on this.
ROMANCE: Pepper Potts being written out of the movie was lame, and Sharon Carter being pushed aside was disappointing as well. The biggest romance was between Bucky and Cap, oddly enough, but it was cool to see Vision and Scarlet Witch start getting a little closer.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Very much in the same vein as Iron Man 2, this movie had a ton of heavy lifting that it needed to take care of, so if I can forgive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for similar flaws, I have to do the same here. Both movies are comparable in many ways, but the difference maker between the two is how Marvel's earned the right to have a setup movie now and again whereas DC is only in this boat because they're rushing. Also, Marvel films are just more entertaining overall because they're not so dour, and they do better service to the source material while still changing things up to fit their goals rather than altering things just for the sake of it. There are problems with this movie, and I think it's getting a little too much praise for what it's worth, but I can't dislike something like this just for feeling a bit thin on the story.