Captain America: Civil War Review — We Don’t Need Another Hero


If some of the recent Marvel films (Avengers, Age of Ultron) left you wondering about the collateral damage that tends occur when superheroes and villains fight, Captain America:  Civil War may slightly soothe your real-world conscience. In fact, there’s a pervasive sense of accountability running through the entirety of Joe and Anthony Russo’s Winter Soldier follow-up which, depending upon your outlook may be a welcome respite from the usual fare, or slightly dour and heavy-handed. But, before we go on, a ***Spoiler Warning:  Spoilers ahead — if you’re looking to avoid character information and surprise character appearances, check back after you’ve seen the film. SPOILERS***


From the outset of Civil War, it’s clear this isn’t just another fun romp through Avengersland and in fact, provides some interesting reflection on our current social consciousness; to what extent does a particular superpower’s sense of right and wrong outweigh demands for the world community’s safety and security? Adding to the Ultron age of destruction, another attempt by the Avengers to stop an anger-fueled Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) from obtaining a biological weapon only ends in more death, giving rise to the call for restrictions on our superfriends. Leading the charge for Homeland Security *Plus* is rabid Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), who informs the gang a new United Nations accord is demanding a reckoning, a governmental hand to guide the Avengers’ decisions and actions; they can either agree and sign away their free-range powers, “retire,” or go off the grid. Seemingly spurred by a single grieving mother (Alfre Woodard), Tony makes the uncharacteristically unselfish decision to leash himself, and it’s the start of the break right down the middle of team Avengers.

By the time the split-decision sends Widow to Vienna where another catastrophic event sets up brainwashed (Hail, Hydra) Bucky as perennially perilous, and the cause of nearly everyone’s need for vengeance, the film has settled into a semi-sluggish nook that threatens the escapism so many of us were longing for. A short sentimental aside leads Steve back to Sharon Carter, who reminds Cap to follow his gut, even when every outside force seems to be going against him; like Stark — with whom Rogers has always clashed — Cap takes (Sharon’s passed-on) advice to heart. Despite all evidence pointing in Bucky’s direction, Steve believes the best of his childhood friend, and as a new enemy carries out his detailed plan (more vengeance!) the rest of the (metric shit ton of) Avengers take their sides. Black Widow, Rhodey, and an oddly, dare I say emotional, Vision  — who at Tony’s behest, holds Wanda hostage for a time — align with Stark, and it is just when he makes a side trip to bring on a new recruit that things take a much-needed lighter turn.


It’s here that I’ll interject a whoop and a cheer for Marvel’s latest casting coup, and like a sharp, cool breath for both audience and Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland’s introduction as Peter Parker flips the whole slog upside-down. Like a joyous toddler taking his first wobbly steps, Parker’s excitable “Spiderling,” and “unusually attractive” Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), bring back the spark to Tony’s eye and it is here the Russo wit begins to flow. A much-needed flood of delightful one-liners flow throughout the rest of the movie, reminding how necessary humor is to the MCU (admittedly, that Whedon dialogue is sorely missed). If Parker’s (and Holland’s) youth is the free-flowing elixir Civil War needed, Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa brings the necessary gravitas, fierce and grounding, but not in that over-the-top way that RDJ has a tendency to (self) serve. His Black Panther is sleek and elegant, furious and fast at times, but also measured — T’Challa isn’t driven by emotion alone. Jointly, their fresh perspective lends exactly the balance the Avengers require, and while Tony and Steve butt heads over Bucky — truly a well-played torn and broken soldier by Sebastian Stan — Spidey and Black Panther steal the show.


When all the revelations are made and the infighting is at least temporarily done, the superhero damage isn’t only external, and injuries are major…lasting; friendships permanently affected or broken.


While Iron Man was more flexible than his moniker might indicate, Captain America stuck to his guns, and like the team our allegiances may be split; there is no black and white, only a muddied and dusty moral landscape to be consistently surveyed. The line between sides may be less blurry, but as in real-world conflict, neither are the major powers truly willing to concede.

“And I wonder when we’re ever gonna change it, living under the fear until nothing else remains.”


Chris Evans again did a fine job as Cap, the weight of the world heavy on his gorgeous shoulders.

“Tony Stank” is my favorite, and I’d really like to see Iron Man and Aunt May on a date.

Aside from Spider-Man’s often hilarious involvement in the big fight scene, Bucky getting hold of that motorcycle was by far the most amazing action moment.

Well, and this:  capchopper

Paul Rudd is adorable, but I just cannot with Ant-Man. Too stupid.

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over eight years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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  • Valhallaback Girl

    Absolutely agree that Spiderman and Black Panther stole the show. Absolutely chewed up the scenery. I Thought Garfield was a great Peter Parker, but Holland has me so relieved. And Chadwick Bozeman? He sold the shit out of Black Panther and I cannot wait for his stand alone. If his spin off keeps his character as rich and complex as it was in Civil War, I’ll be there opening day with bells on. Great, GREAT write up.

    Also, dem biceps. Dear lawd.

  • Jelinas

    I! CANNOT!! WAIT!!!


    yes BP and SM STOLE the show . But i found AntMan to be Hi-larious during the fight. And i loved how he really was rudd when he kept feeling left out. Even at the end when he was like “pym told me to never trust a stark” and tony was like WHO ARE YOU EVEN?

    I do think the first half was slow but man when it ramped DID IT RAMP.

    Why do we have to wait so long for BP?? If you’re going to make one of the teasers BP can’t it be before THOR 3??

    • He did have some funny lines, I’ll give you that, and I like that they wrote in collective amusement with the character. Who can take AM seriously?

      • I mean i’ll never expect him to do anything serious I suppose but I really liked Ant Man and of course Rudd so i have Rudd colored glasses on at all times

      • I did like his fight with Natasha. And his, ahem, big moment. The theater cheered when that happened, nearly as much as when Spidey and BP showed up.

        Really that whole fight scene made really great use of their abilities and personalities for some really great shots.

  • When I heard about the new spider man movies, I was like WHY??? Seeing the new spidey in this has actually made me kinda excited about it. Garfield’s insane chemistry with Emma Stone was the only thing that made those movies at all interesting.

    All of that side, I loved this installment, and am fascinated by the Black Panther

    • dude tom did such a good job as spidey. i never wanted another spidey movie before but he was just so great.

      • Right?!?!? And, while it breaks my heart to acknowledge this, Marissa Tomei is of an age to play Aunt May, and she was a delight in her two minutes on screen.

        • well plus they acknowledged aunts come in all shapes and sizes so it’s not like she is “old” aunt may SHE IS JUST HIS AUNT MAY

          • Jelinas

            Very good point. My aunt is about ten years younger than my mom, so, had she taken me in as a child, she would’ve been even younger than Marisa Tomei by the time I was seventeen.

    • ASQuiros

      Motormouth Spidey makes so much more sense than laid back Spidey. All the smack talk suddenly = personality. Less flip, more just his fast brain falling out of his mouth. I’m in.

  • Soooooo good. Boseman killed it, Holland was pitch perfect Spidey, and the conflict made way more sense than similar attempts at this type of story. It felt earned, both in-story and meta-textually. Also, I thought it hilarious that they completely glossed over the events in the Thor and Hulk movies in their “Avengers R Dangerous” clip show (even AoS acknowledged London happened, guys). What really sold it were the small character moments, that showed that yeah, they are dealing with heavy shit, but that doesn’t mean they forget the little things (double wingman headnod FTW).

    And I like that they didn’t brush over the Aunt May thing. Tony’s like “wow, you are hot, totally not what I picture an aunt to look like”. They acknowledge that Aunt May doesn’t have to be a dowdy 80 year old, while also kinda lampshading that they did cast MARISA TOMEI.

    Did anyone else see a slight glow or halo to her face, or was that just my love for her?

    • llp

      The double wingman head nod was my favourite. Stan was starting to smile a bit when he switched to the middle of the car. That whole set of scenes in the Bug was excellent.

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  • El Gordo

    I saw people keep comparing it to Bats v Supes and I kept thinking to myself that it seemed a little unfair. Then I watched it and now I see how hard it is to NOT compare it. A lot if the same themes and plot points, just handled SO much better. Like embarrassingly better.

    • and i mean let’s put aside quality, color, and acting. CA:CW is already just 30mil shy of BvS TOTAL FOREIGN GROSS. it’s been out for 1 week internationally. 1 WEEK.

  • ASQuiros

    Ant Man is not stupid. The name, maybe. But Ant Man is surprisingly HUGE!!

  • Jelinas

    I cried a lot and laughed a lot and grinned like an idiot through most of this movie. I love, love, LOVED it. And I love, love, LOVE the MCU movies. Even the bad ones are at least watchable, and, for me, only two really fall into that category (IM2 and Thor 2).

    Thoughts/questions (I apologize in advance for my logorrhea. AND THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW, SO BE YE FOREWARNED!!!!):



    1. How exactly is Sharon Carter related to Peggy? According to “Agent Carter,” it seems like Peggy only has one brother, and he was killed in the war before it seems he had the opportunity to have kids. Since Sharon’s last name is Carter, I’d assume that she’d have to be the daughter of Peggy’s brother, or maybe of a paternal male cousin.

    2. While I thoroughly enjoyed the brief overview of Europe that we got, I was a little confused by this: Bucky supposedly blows up the Sokovia Accords Summit in Vienna. He’s captured in Bucharest. So why is he then extradited to Berlin? Anybody know why?

    3. Does no one else find the relationship between Cap & Agent 13 a little creepy? I mean, he could’ve been her uncle if things had worked out differently. *shudder*

    4. When Alfre Woodward shows up, it immediately reminded me of the soft spot I have for Heart & Souls.

    5. Black Panther and Spider-Man are my EVERYTHING. The casting was pitch-perfect for both of them. Man alive, SO FANTASTIC. I love the gravitas Boseman brings to T’Challa, but I might even love the casting of Tom Holland more. He seems so normal as Peter Parker; just a regular, geeky teen. He is Peter Parker.

    And Ant-Man wasn’t my biggest squee of the film, but I still enjoyed him in it! I like Rudd in this role, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ant-Man for its own virtues.

    6. My loyalties wavered between Cap & my secret husband RDJ quite a few times, but, by the end of the film, I realized that there was one character I found myself agreeing with very consistently: Black Widow. I love how practical she is; she isn’t made stubborn by her ego or inflated sense of self-importance. She reads the landscape, reevaluates as necessary, and takes the action most likely to have a positive result. She ultimately wants what’s best, but she’s not married to her initial evaluation of what that is. I love that.

    When ScarJo was first cast in the role, I confess that I rolled my eyes and expected to hate her. But she has more than earned my respect. Her action sequences were SO fun to watch. GIVE US A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE, ALREADY.

    7. I like Hawkeye less and less every time I see him. I can’t tell if that’s Renner’s fault or if it’s the writing. It’s probably Renner. It’s a shame; he was so promising not that long ago.

    8. I like Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch. But I do wish she’d pick an accent. Also, it makes me wish we could have more Quicksilver. *sigh*

    9. Do we say the “ch” in T’Challa and T’Chaka like the “ch” in “cheese” or like the “ch” in “loch”? I always assumed it was like in “loch,” but I’d only read it before this movie and never heard it pronounced, and I think Black Widow said it like “cheese.”


    • llp

      I though it was like “cheese” too. Black Widow is the best, though.

  • pancake_bacon

    I loved this movie — it’s the kind of film you feel like seeing again as soon as you leave the cinema! Lots of the highlights have been pointed out in many a review and discussion. So two things I would like bring up that would be great to ponder:

    1) Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo was wonderfully performed, and I like his strategy for vengeance on the well, Avengers. It was effective!
    2) My long-running pet peeve on these big-ticket action movies are the huge battles against faceless minions at the end, followed by massive destruction. It was amazing that the battle scenes were more “intimate” but no less devastating.
    3) As a non-comic reader, I thought Tom Holland’s introduction as Spider-Man was loads of fun and entertaining. But scene-stealing and drop-dead amazing? Not really, for me. There were bigger takeaways from Civil War I’m more buzzed about. Tom Holland was just kinda… there.

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