‘Captain America: Civil War’: Pure Fandom Review

NOTE: This review is for Captain America: Civil War. Proceed with caution as MAJOR spoilers and details from the film are discussed. (Also, do yourself a favor and go see it – then come back and give us a read.)

Pure Fandom Grade: A

15 minutes. That’s all it took. That’s all the time it took from when Captain America: Civil War started before it became our favorite movie of the year (take back that gasp, Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered BEFORE December 31.) Was it the epic fight scenes from Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Cap’s shield stealing the show, or Sam and Bucky’s surprise scene-stealing humor? The answer is: It was all of it.

OK, we’ll get off our nerdy high horse and break down the highs (and very few, if at all) lows. Yes, this is, and most of our recaps and reviews are about creatives that we love, so most are favorable. But we’re also a community of passionate fans that feel the lows pretty hard, too. Trust us, there will be a bad review. This review, though – this isn’t one of them.

Remember when 2016 came and trailers seemed to give away the entire film? Us too. We were livid (but also couldn’t resist watching) the extensive clips and sneak peeks of the film. How many fight scenes were they going to give away? We may be riding the high of fresh off of seeing the film, but we can honestly say that the previews of the film were the appetizer. The apps were damn good, but the main course delivered beyond what we expected. We haven’t read the Civil War series of the comics in hopes of capturing the surprise shock-value of whatever the film pulled from the original stories, but true fans can say that the end’s reveal was “OMG” enough for fans both new and old.

So, what made the film so special? For one, the writing was captivating. We had major Avengers-vibes, something that Age of Ultron attempted to capture but didn’t quite grasp. Spider-Man was a character we knew was coming, but we weren’t anticipating enjoying his scenes as much as we did. Spider-Man was the compliment Downey Jr. needed for fresh scenes of chemistry and dialogue. After the epic Tony’s team vs Steve’s team scene, we found ourselves on the edge of our seat asking, “we want more.”

Let’s toss in some critique so you’ll put your paper bags down. Spider-Man’s intro was a bit rushed for the sake of filming (Spidey’s solo movie Spider-Man: Homecoming is set for 2017), but they made it work. He played the role he needed to play in order to provide the banter the Marvel movies are so famous for delivering. Plus, he set up his own movie. OK, here’s the critique: Marisa Tomei, really? We love her, but as Aunt May? Really? Really? 

Let’s get back to roles that worked. When we heard Ant-Man was going to be in Civil War, we’ll admit we collectively groaned, Why? The over-saturation of superhero films has made us – and many fans alike – preemptively prepare for a, oh no, not other one perspective on superhero films. Thank you, Civil War, for making us bite our tongues. Ant-Man’s big reveal (don’t act like you didn’t see that pun coming) made theatres across the country belt out in laughter, followed by a WTF?! moment. Also, let’s be real – Paul Rudd can do no wrong, and no other actor could play that role as satisfying as he.

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

Another film highlight was the introduction of Marvel’s Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman. Boseman captured the regal and vengeful T’Challa Udaku, whose mission for most of the film was to avenge his father’s death. What was surprising (from fans that have not yet read this part of the comic series) was that in the end he and Captain end up on the same page. They share the same old-school honor that the Cap is so well known for. Bucky even seeks refuge with T’Challa, admitting that all of the chaos he’s caused doesn’t make him worth saving. (To be fair, he kind of has a point.) Bucky’s new safe haven makes us even more ready for Boseman’s solo Black Panther film. 

One of the biggest highlights of the film was the fierce females. Wanda Maximoff AKA The Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Natalia Romanoff AKA Black Widow are two characters that have been given more depth than a lot of female characters in superhero films. That’s as far as we’ll go. Give the gals solo movies, then we’ll toot that horn a little louder. Did we say how epic Black Widow’s fight scenes were? Oh, we did? We’ll say it again: They were fucking epic. Speaking of, Wanda MOVES THINGS WITH HER CRIMSON SMOKE ESSENCE. She’s a bad bitch and needs to be liberated as such. Solo movies, please. Thanks.

Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly

Our feminism aside, the film’s shining star was the soul of our Cap. We binge-watched the first two Captain films leading up to Civil War, so his timelines and frame of mind were fresh in ours. What would you do if your real-life Bucky went through what James did? Would you fight for him/her? Hell, we’re best friends, and if in that situation we can’t say we wouldn’t put the UN aside to bring one another justice. OK, that’s a little dramatic, but we like we said – this is, and we take our fandoms seriously.

Maybe that’s why we loved the film so much. The film was about the lengths and bounds of friendship – what it’s founded on. Bucky is the one reality that’s tied to all that Steve ever knew; everyone else is gone. When Peggy died, Bucky became all that Cap has left. Of course, Tony is Cap’s friend, too. They’ve saved the world together, after all. We’ve all thought that Steve looked at Tony with a “higher plane of wisdom” because he was older, from a different time. It turns out that Cap also has his own demons, and the aura he projects onto Tony may not be one of burden, but one of guilt. Cap has knowingly carried the weight of what really happened to Tony’s parents, and he had to make a choice: Would he hide the secret with the hopes of saving his best friend’s soul, or would he give Tony the truth he deserves as a son to murdered parents?

There wasn’t an alien or infinity stone to fight against in this movie. The dust had settled, and our Avengers were forced to sit back and make decisions that directly affect themselves and each other. All it took was for one man who had lost everything to set these superheroes – and friends – up to destroy each other.

We’ll let you come to your own conclusions about the film, but as a collective it’s undoubtedly one that comic fans won’t want to miss. Winter Soldier was the Empire Strikes Back of Marvel, and – dare we say – Civil War met its predecessor’s reception and more.

Other movie notables:

  • Anthony Mackie (Falcon) breaking sidekick barriers. He continually proves to be a true partner to Cap and not a fanboy in the shadows.
  • Us actually caring about Bucky. It’s like the guy has his own solo films within the Captain America franchise.
  • Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) making an appearance. Hawkeye wouldn’t miss this fight, and his appearance was realistic enough for us to believe he would really show up (you know, if all this superhero stuff was real and all.)
  • Whoa, bombshell! Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) is Peggy’s niece (say what?!). She kicked some major ass, then laid a smooch on the Cap. Wouldn’t you?
  • Don Cheadle reprised his role as Tony’s bestie James Rhodes, and his trauma unexpectedly helped Tony see past the rage of war. Rhodes reminding Tony of why he signed up for the military in the first place seemed to strike a cord – Tony was more vengeful than War Machine was about his injury.
  • Vision (Paul Bettany) is starting to get some feels for Wanda. Will we see A.I. start to develop true, human emotion in future films?
  • Holler to Martin Freeman! We have nothing else, except that he’s the freaking best.

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Liz Prugh

Liz is the co-founder of, an always aspiring #fiercefemale, and loves geeking out over any and all sci-fi/fantasy. She believes Luke Skywalker is the most underrated Jedi and still thinks vampires are cool. She hosts several Pure Fandom podcasts, and you can find her currently covering The CW's 'Batwoman' and 'Legacies'. Nerd out with her on Twitter @lizprugh.

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