This morning’s workout is brought to you by one helicopter, two flexed biceps, and a lost battle with a hernia. Contrarily, if today is leg day – and we know Captain America doesn’t skip leg day – we should all remember the importance of a tuck-and-roll landing when leaping out of a four-storey window. Popped kneecaps aren’t as fun as they sound. I guess the real difference between Cap and the rest of us (aside from the burning sense of righteousness) is how much of a windup we need to make it from this balcony to the roof across the street.
But let’s slow it down for a second; Captain America: Civil War isn’t all about the swan dives. It sets up a heated debate between members of the Avengers but, the interesting thing is, both sides raise very compelling arguments. Cap/Steve (Chris Evans) firmly believes that too much government oversight could be dangerous in the long run. If the UN should change their priorities the Avengers would be contractually obligated to say “Yes, Sir” to just about anything. Whereas Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) believes a team with no oversight is a planetary disaster waiting to happen. The Avengers don’t care about international borders and, over the past few years, have unintentionally flattened countless civilians and numerous skyscrapers around the globe. The heated differences between Cap and Stark only get hotter after a UN summit suffers an attack at the hands of Cap’s old friend and international terrorist, the Winter Soldier/Bucky (Sebastian Stan). Cap stands up for his notoriously hard to handcuff comrade which only adds fuel to Stark’s argument. Proving once and for all that he is right and everyone else is wrong, Stark must go outside his comfort zone and amass a loyal group of friends, which in turn forces Cap to do the same. It’s friend against friend, good question against good point, and vibranium against magnesium prosthetics in this all-out, fanboy chest bump.
On top of the ever growing cast of vengeance-seeking badasses, Civil War introduces fresh allies to the high-budget Marvel universe. In Civil War, the most screen-timey of them all is T’Challa, the young king of Wakanda (Chadwick Boseman). The good news is that his presence in the movie is 100% justified. Rather than joining a side because he got a phone call and had nothing better to do this Saturday, T’Challa is consumed with the need to avenge those killed in the UN bombing. See, an Avenger – he’s perfect.
Captain America: Civil War is noticeably different from past Marvel showstoppers because, this time around, there’s no big, bad, ugly Pinocchio trying to implode the planet. There’s a whisper of a villain (Daniel Brühl), whose name I can’t remember, who tries to nudge things into motion; but the real enemy is a difference of opinion. While some Avengers are hell-bent on proving that they are right (through as many squats and deadlifts as are necessary) others follow the lead just to see how far things will go. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) sides with Stark more for convenience’s sake than anything else, but she isn’t opposed to hearing Cap out. It’s refreshing to see that she is equally capable of resolving her differences with a conversation as she is with throwing some serious smack down on them asses. While Cap runs off to find Bucky and prove that his terrorist friend is actually a pretty swell guy, Widow stays behind to listen, learn, and attempt diplomacy.
It may be a long movie but, like a six-course Thanksgiving dinner, Civil War is totally worth the monsoon of flavours and lingering sense of blissful overindulgence. While Civil War begins with god-like super humans politely voicing their disagreements, dusting off historic pens, and passing a legal document around the conference table, it eventually takes a right turn down an elevator shaft and tries to high five a speeding motorcycle. I would love to count the amount of time spent either in jail, breaking out of jail, or being warned how close they came to jail – but I’m still too busy laughing at the supporting cast. Civil War is dark, it’s tense, and although it may happen surprisingly often, everyone gets a little on edge when the super soldier and the man-cannon start fighting… which is why throwing Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) into the equation is the best idea ever. Ant-Man plus Spiderman (Tom Holland) plus Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and a general refusal to lend Bucky a little legroom in the Volkswagen Beetle amounts to the hardest I’ve laughed since Sneezing Panda. This is how comedy relief is supposed to work.
As soon as I walked out I wanted to turn around and go see Civil War again. The action is crisp and creative; the tension between friends, enemies, and frenemies is taut; and the surprising diversity of Falcon’s wing-pack thing makes him much more than a one-trick pigeon. Civil War may have a lot of characters and a lot of side-plots, but every sub-story makes sure to regularly regroup and try another go at hashing out the characters’ differences. Eventually, fighting becomes more than just a gimmick – it’s a necessity to get from point A to point B. Civil War is a well-planned, well-timed sequel to both The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron. I’m excited to see where they go from here. 8.5/10.