I remember when I grumbled to myself while watching one certain action scene in “The Avengers” (2012). Watching its two superhero characters clashing with each other over something trivial, I felt the urge to say something to them: “Hey, guys, why don’t you just have a talk instead of fighting with each other, especially when a bad guy is waiting for you to be captured outside the screen?”
4 years have passed since then. In the meantime, I finally received my PhD degree in biological science despite my 11 years of phenomenal procrastination in KAIST, I managed to go through my first research job in last year, and I recently moved onto another research job in this year. But it seems our numerous superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe still have troubles with getting along well with each other as if they were schoolyard kids in the dire need of adult supervision, and “Captain America: Civil War” continues that persistent trend under a more serious tone.
When the latest mission of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and his dependable team members unexpectedly results in a devastating collateral damage despite their overall success in stopping bad guys, the public concerns over superheroes become more increased around the world, and the US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt, who reprises his role from forgettable “The Incredible Hulk” (2008)) decides to have the Avenger members under the international legal control for preventing any possible massive damage like that. Feeling more guilt about what was caused by his irresponsibility in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) accepts Ross’s decision, but Rogers has a different opinion about this mainly due to his bitter adventure depicted in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014).
The situation becomes more troublesome when Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Shaw), Rogers’s old colleague who was transformed into Winter Soldier but then began to regain his former identity at the end of the previous film, is identified as the prime suspect of a terrible terror incident in Vienna. While Ross and Stark are determined to capture Barnes as soon as possible, Rogers wants to protect his old friend first as sensing something fishy about the incident, and that naturally causes more widened schism between Rogers and Stark.
Eventually, they decide to fight against each other, and so do the other members of Avengers. While Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) are on Rogers’s side, Romanoff, Lieutenant James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Vision (Paul Bettany) are on Stark’s side, and there are also other superhero characters who join this fight.
While it goes without saying that their busy action sequence unfolded in a big airport is the major highlight in the film, the directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who previously directed “Captain America: the Winter Soldier”, also serve us with other competent action sequences as the movie hops around many different locations including Vienna, Berlin, New York, London, and, surprise, Cleveland. Relentlessly driven by shaky camerawork and frantic editing, these action sequences often look like emulating Jason Bourne movies too much, but they mostly work on the whole although I kept noticing lots of CGIs on the screen.
Handling similar ideas relatively better than that grim, ponderous wreck called “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016), the movie tries to put more focus on story and characters, but it unfortunately overlooks that the story itself is not that engaging from the beginning. Again, our superheroes’ conflict is actually something which can be solved if they just have a real adult conversation for a while. Furthermore, I did not care a lot about the actions during the climax part, which predictably puts its main characters into another physical clash through an expected revelation.
The main cast members wear their respective roles comfortably as before, so we get as much as we can expect from them, and there are also a number of various performers popping up here and there throughout the movie. Emily VanCamp, who briefly appeared in “Captain America: the Winter Soldier”, has a little fun with her more expanded role, and I was entertained to watch recognizable veteran performers including Martin Freeman, Frank Grillo, Daniel Brühl, William Hurt, John Slattery, Hope Davis, John Kani, Alfre Woodard, and Marisa Tomei, who plays one of the last roles you can possibly imagine her playing. Paul Rudd, who had a nice start with “Ant-Man” (2015) in last year, makes an obligatory appearance as announced before, and Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland ably present their potentials as new superhero characters to be added to MCU, though I am not so sure about whether their upcoming movies will be successful or not.
Overall, “Captain America: Civil War” is a little too serious and bombastic about its supposedly interesting subjects, and I could not enjoy it enough to recommend it. I liked “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) as an earnest retro fun, and I was surprised by how “Captain America: the Winter Soldier” threw at us some nice surprises along with distinctive mood and personality, but “Captain America: Civil War” does not have much to distinguish itself from its predecessors except its rather bland homogenized impression not so far from “The Avengers” and its 2015 sequel. After enduring “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and then coldly responding to “Captain America: Civil War” without much enthusiasm, I remain concerned about what we will get during next several years, as getting tired of getting same things again without anything refreshingly fun or wondrous enough to talk about.