"Stark tell ya anything else?" asks Captain America as he fights other fellow Avengers. "That you're wrong, but you think you're right. That makes you dangerous," replies Spiderman, who was well cast in the film.
Directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, and screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the same quartet team that produced the second Cap film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this third Cap film shares the same traits. That is a good thing. Like the second Cap film, the third, Captain America: Civil War, is a seamless blend of action-adventure, thought provoking dialogue, moments of drama, and touches of humor that all flows effortlessly.
The second Cap film dealt with government overreach run amok. Project Insight, created by Secretary Alexander Pierce of the World Security Council, former leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., while also a leader of HYDRA. Whose true intent was to use three massive S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarriers to plan coordinated assassinations on 20 million people suspected of threatening the new world order. Whereas the theme in this third film in the Cap franchise deals with government oversight. So with that, some spoilers are ahead.
The film opens briefly with sinister events beginning in Siberia on December 16, 1991. Then jumps ahead to the present, with a few moments of quiet anticipation as Cap/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) leads a strike team in Lagos, then blasts off from there. Falcon/SamWilson (Anthony Mackie), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), as the newest member in the Avengers, all engage to stop Brock Rumlow aka Crossbones (Frank Grillo). A former HYDRA agent within S.H.I.E.L.D. from the second Cap film, Rumlow is caught while leading a team of mercenaries after their assault into the Institute for Infectious Diseases lab to steal a vial of a deadly virus. The retrieval of the vial was a success, yet came with the heavy cost of innocent life. As Scarlet Witch saved Cap being nearby Rumlow who blew himself up to avoid capture, she contained and channeled the blast into the air, yet accidentally destroys part of a nearby building killing eleven Wakandans.
International uproar follows. So much so, that 117 nations enact the Sokovia Accords under the auspices of the United Nations. A legal international document, granting oversight into accountability in all activity involving the Avengers, with ratification to take place at a formal gathering of world leaders in Vienna, Austria. Furthermore requiring all Avengers to sign in agreement, or else retire, as U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), formerly a U.S. Army Lieutenant General, held a briefing informing the team at Avengers HQ.
Philosophical differences developed shortly after. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sides with the oversight. Believing the team needs to be held in check, Stark also harbors guilt shortly after an encounter with Miriam Spencer (Alfre Woodard) after his grant talk at MIT, whose son Charlie Spencer was killed at Sokovia during the Avengers battle with Ultron. Charlie Spencer made use of a summer break from college to give relief aid to Sokovia citizens.
Cap believes otherwise, with the UN taking the lead, he states, "I know, but it's run by people with agendas and agendas change." Then later during the meeting, he receives a message on his smartphone which summons him to London. And it's at St. Luke's Cathedral in London as Cap attends a memorial ceremony for British citizen Peggy Carter, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who passed away at 95 whom he met during World War II, where Cap ultimately makes his decision.
"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'," spoken by Sharon Carter, reciting the words of her Aunt Peggy Carter before the attendants at London's St. Luke's Cathedral, while Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson both listen and observe from the pew.
The solemn scene also proves the Russo brothers are no strangers to research. Such words spoken by Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent now CIA, were recited almost verbatim from the source material Marvel comic, Civil War: Amazing Spiderman No. 537. In the comic, it's Captain America himself who delivers similar words to Spiderman, who has a change of heart by going from Iron Man's side to Cap's side. Yet it's the use of similar words in the film that only helped to solidify Cap/Steve Rogers decision.
At the day of the Sovokia Accords held in Vienna, a bomb blast disrupts the conference that kills King T'Chaka of Wakanda, played by South African actor John Kani. Video security shows James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) as the bomber. Later, after holding his father in his arms, Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) vows vengeance.
A monarch, martial arts expert, acrobat, scientist, and now king of Wakanda, T'Challa goes after Barnes and let's nothing stand in his way, now also introduced as the Black Panther. In the May 16, 2016 issue of TIME, an article by Eliana Dockterman on page 51 states the introduction of the newest black cinematic superhero had put pressure on the Russo brothers. "We felt more pressure bringing Black Panther to screen than anyone else in the movie," says Joe Russo within the TIME article. Which is another way of saying we better get this one right. And right they did.
Whereas the appearances of Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and actor Tom Holland as 15 year old Peter Parker aka Spiderman were fantastic, providing also comic relief, the appearance of Black Panther was nothing short of magnificent. With a black suit laced with vibranium, a rare metal found only in Wakanda from which Cap's shield is also made, worn by a man of intellect, martial arts trained, and respected nobility, T'Challa is obviously not a man to be trifled with.
So there you have it, action, thought provoking dialogue used only when necessary, and humor. Such as one humorous scene among others in the film, when Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) rescues Wanda Maximoff from Avengers HQ house arrest by Vision (Paul Bettany), who acted from orders by Tony Stark. "I retire for what, five minutes and it all goes to sh**," says Barton. From there the line is drawn. Cap, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Bucky, and Ant-Man, fighting against Iron Man, War Machine/Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Black Widow, Vision, Spiderman, and of course, Black Panther.
Part of the appeal of Captain America is that you couldn't help but wonder if all Americans were like him. Not in his abilities, but in his mindset. In a scene from the first Cap film, Captain America: The First Avenger, Abraham Erskine, the scientist who developed the bio-engineered super soldier serum, says, "Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you must stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man," talking to Steve Rogers. If every American had Cap's mindset the KKK would cease to exist, of which there'd be no need for the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League. Yet sadly, such a reality doesn't exist.
He's helped save America and the rest of the world, but in this film he's also saying that an individual also matters. So I'm on Cap's side on this one. I give this film five out of five stars. Also a helpful tip, as with all Marvel films, stay to the absolute end. Wait till you see the Georgia Peach logo while listening to the song by the band alt-J, titled, "Left Hand Free," before seeing two ending scenes after the credits. And special credit goes to Stan Lee, who made it all possible.