“Captain America: Civil War” (2016): The Pinnacle of Super Hero Cinema, An Entertaining and Satisfying Masterpeice

With Captain America: Civil War, the Russo Brothers have raised the bar with comic book adaptations and summer tent pole superhero films for the foreseeable future. Their extraordinarily satisfying effort pitting Steve Rogers, Captain America, against his friend and follow hero Tony Stark, Iron Man, is a multi-layered, high energy, emotionally sound and politically entwined masterpiece – hyperbole earned. The script is smart, the action is stunning, the dialog is rich and often hilarious, the new characters are exciting and promising. There is very little within Captain America: Civil War to complain about. Any minor points that can be raised have minimal to non-existent impact on the story, the entertainment and the enjoyment. Anthony and Joe Russo have surpassed The Avengers (2012) and make a strong case for it topping their own previous effort Captain America: Winter Soldier. The film is stuffed to max with every frame presenting another nugget to cherish and enjoy. But at its core it is a film about friendship and ideals – and the conflict they can bring. Captain America: Civil War gets it right, plain and simple.


The main thrust of Captain America: Civil War is fairly straightforward while the depths of the film are complex and buried in history, relationships and emotion. On the surface, the Avengers are seen as rogue agents, to some, they are vigilantes. The world leaders, represented by the United Nations, want to put them under check, to regulate and orchestrate their involvement and impact on world issues and threats. They create the Sokovia Accords with U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross leading the efforts to reign in the Avengers. The events in Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron are leading Tony Stark to support the accords rallying many of the Avengers to his side. However, Steve Rogers is against them citing “the safest hands are still our own.” With the Winter Soldier, who is Bucky Barnes and Rogers’ childhood friend, at the center of the conflict, Rogers and Stark soon find themselves at odds with little options available but to fight. It is a civil war.


This is drive enough for the film, but the script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely offers so much more. It offers a debate of ideals neither of which are totally correct and each is subtly flawed. It is a fascinating and complex examination of their positions politically and emotionally, challenging their friendship. This is extraordinary achievement in a film as stuffed as Captain America: Civil War. It examines Rogers’ motivations and ideals. It introduces The Black Panther and the MCU version of Spider-Man. It involves no less than eight  more superheroes and never short changes a single one of them. It touches on relationships between Vision and Scarlet Witch. It reflects on the icon influence of Captain America with both Ant-Man and Spider-Man being awed by his presence. It touches on the impact of their actions as those suffering loss by the Avengers battles confront them. All the while the film never looses its sense of adventure and action, it never looses its sense of fun, making it the most successful super hero film to date.


“This job… we try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody, but you don’t give up.” – Steve Rogers to Wanda Maximoff.


Chris Evans embodies the ideology and persona of Captain America and Steve Rogers with ease, he is nothing if not incredibly consistent. With Captain America: Civil War, he raises the stakes and the emotional impact of his beliefs and conviction. He is willing to sacrifice everything to save his friends and to defend his country – or the world – for what he believes is the right thing to do. His mindset is mirrored back at him at the funeral of his one true love, Peggy Carter. Her niece, Sharon Carter shares those words, “And she said “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, YOU move’.”” This is Evans best performance in the role and one that deserves to be recognized. He gives the role an iconic strength balanced with an air of vulnerability and a sting of moral conflict.


Robert Downey Jr. steps in and nearly steals the entire picture making Captain America: Civil War one of the better Iron Man films. Tony Stark is torn between familiar ties and responsibility to his country and the people his actions effect. His conflicts glue him to side with Ross and the United Nations on the Sokovia Accords. He is struggling with the loss of lives due to the Avengers confrontations and his personal hardships concerning the love of his life, Pepper Potts. He believes that his actions will save the lives of his friends, Captain American and the Avengers, as evident when he enlists the Vision to protect Wanda Maximoff by enforcing a thinly veiled form of house arrest. Stark is hit hard throughout the film. When Steve Rogers offers, referring to Bucky Barnes, “Sorry, Tony. You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any another choice. But he’s my friend.” Tony replies, “So was I.” The moment is heartfelt, emotionally sincere and core to the true conflict of the film. It resonates.


Captain America: Civil War contains terrific surprises and wonderful moments of joy and pure entertainment married perfectly with the weightier themes and emotions. Ant-man is at his most cinematic expanding upon the tone and humor of his own film. When Paul Rudd awkwardly introduces himself to Steve Rogers it both illustrates his own character’s inexperience and insecurities and the respect, importance and commanding presence of Captain America. He also shines in the moments that spotlight Ant-Man’s powers and abilities with Rudd continuing to impress with a delightful and inspired performance. The introduction of Spider-Man to MCU (now shared with Sony) is pure joy on screen. The Russo Brothers give fans what may be considered the best, purist representation of the character on the big screen. Even though his involvement is far more than anticipated, it is still little more than a cameo role but one that is memorable and highly entertaining. Tom Holland makes a perfect Peter Parker. The film also introduces The Black Panther to the MCU. It is handled perfectly providing ample motivation for the Black Panther to be involved in the story line and sharing just enough back story to define the character without over burdening the story with his origin tale. Chadwick Boseman is impressive as T’Challa providing the character with great charisma and an impressive regal attitude.


With Captain America: Civil War, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have provided an important milestone in superhero cinema just as Joss Whedon did with The Avengers (2012). This film is as much an Avengers film as it is a Captain America film without, miraculously, loosing the fact that it is truly a Steve Rogers story. That is an incredible and unimaginable feat. The only thing that threatens it truly is that Robert Downey Jr. is so damn good in this film as Tony Stark. Yet, beneath all the spectacle and action, the film is about the people in the film. It is about Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, Wanda Maximoff and T’Challa whether they wear their masks and costumes or not. Somehow, they are people first with emotions and beliefs and agenda and real, raw motivations, something other similar films have overlooked of late. That doesn’t mean the film sacrifices its action however. Captain America: Civil War contains some of the best super hero action scenes committed to film, the set pieces are incredible and are handled with energy, precision and enthusiasm. They are infectious and amazing full of surprises, emotion and spectacle. See it!

Captain America: Civil War  5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Doc Rotten
Editor-In-Chief / Founder / Podcast Producer at Horror News Radio
Doc Rotten is the founder of Gruesome Magazine. He is also a film critic for Gruesome Magazine and the podcast host & producer for Horror News Radio, Monster Movie Podcast, Decades of Horror: 1970s, The American Horror Story Fan Podcast and Hannibal Fan Podcast. He is also co-host of the Dracula podcast on TV TALK and is a contributing reviewer for HorrorNews.Net and Widescreen Warrior.

Doc a lifelong fan of horror films, sci-fi flicks and monster movies first discovering Universal Monsters and Planet of the Apes as a young child in the 1970's searching out every issue of Famous Monster of Filmland (and, later, Fangoria). Favorite films include Jaws, The Car, The Birds, The Tingler, Vampire Circus and The Exorcist. Still a huge fan of horror films from the 70s, Doc continues consuming horror films to this day for the site, for the podcasts and for the fun of it all.