Captain America: Civil War – Epic Intimacy (Review)

Team Cap in Civil War

Captain America: Civil War has, to date, pulled in a box office returns in excess of $1 billion worldwide.  The Russo brothers put their own stamp on this next installment in the development  of the Avengers.  The film pitted superhero against superhero and introduced another Marvel character while “borrowing” a couple more.

Thor and The Hulk were conspicuous in their absence but there was a reason that these two were left spending time in the bleachers.  This theme of trouble in an uneasy Xanadu of heroic men and women was more compact in nature than previous Marvel outings.

There were many who complained, when the film premiered, that the scenes were too cramped. There were none of Joss Whedon’s vast vignettes where action filled the screen on an epic scale. Once again there was a reason that the brothers Russo, Anthony and Joe, kept the shots tight and almost intimate.

Each of the prior films dealt with the Avengers learning to work as a team. Building up trust and, most importantly  learning to share the power.  The group were always going to have issues, but, as long as there was a strong leader, Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury in most of the films, it could have worked with few problems.

Then came the dissolution of SHIELD after  HYDRA staged their almost successful coup.  Fury left the controls to Captain America and  then along came Bucky the “Winter Soldier.” The previous films all dealt with issues that were bigger than life. Alien invasions orchestrated by Thor’s brother Loki,  Tony Stark’s self aware “man machine” trying to destroy his maker and everything else,  SHIELD struggling to defeat an organization bent on taking over the world.

All these threats came from without.  Captain America: Winter Soldier featured problems from within. Each superhero had a personal issue to deal with. A leader to back and support based upon their own perception of right and wrong.

The UN mandate where The Avengers were controlled via the council was the trigger and while, surprisingly, Tony Stark agrees with the move, many of the team do not. Cap, who got used to running the show disagrees and the team, that worked so hard to come together before, are now split in the middle.

Thor and The Hulk being excluded made sense. Thor is not from this world and therefore any help he renders is down to his personal choice.  The Hulk is a reluctant participant and works only when needed, the big green guy’s need for solitude outweighs the team’s needs.

All the fight scenes and action sequences were on a smaller scale for a reason.  This film was all about individuals and their beliefs and reactions.  Over and above that  was the realization that this all boiled down to issues between Stark’s Iron Man and Captain America. Cap’s friend Bucky, when he was the Winter Soldier, killed Tony’s parents.

And Cap knew.

Ultimately this film was all about the two most forceful members of the Avengers disagreeing and fighting for what they believe to be right. It is also about betrayal and loyalty to friends who do not fit into the bigger picture.

The film serves as a reminder that however much we the audience love “Team Avengers” these heroes are their own entities.  Each one with a system and agenda all their own.  ‘

The  intimate feel backs this theme of individuality brilliantly. There is no need for panoramic vistas or sweeping epic scenes where all of New York City, for instance, is used as backdrop.  The story does not require either.

Even the addition of the new “team members” are comprised of more solitary players. The superbly funny Tom Holland as the, seemingly, 12 year-old Spider-Man or his competition for comic relief Paul Rudd‘s Ant-Man and even Chadwick Boseman‘s The Black Panther are all solo acts here.

The new kids on the block take sides in what is, essentially, Cap and Iron Mans’ war.  Because the battle is internalized, the cinematography is more compact and intimate. It fits the story and the struggle perfectly.

Captain America: Civil War is a more personal tale. The Russo brothers have presented the film just as it should have been.  Tight shots to emphasize the internal battle of each super hero.

This is blockbuster cinema at its finest and presented just as it should be.