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What Critics Are Saying About Captain America: Civil War

The reviews are in for Captain America: Civil War, and as expected, they're pretty darn great. What makes this latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe so brilliant? Here's what some of America's top movie critics have to say.


If Variety's review is any indication, anyone who hated Batman v Superman will likely find solace in Civil War. Critic Justin Chang's unqualified rave describes the movie as a "a decisively superior hero-vs.-hero extravaganza that also ranks as the most mature and substantive picture to have yet emerged from the Marvel Cinematic Universe." Sounds great, right? Well, it gets better. Chang writes that, unlike so many superhero movies, Civil War perfectly balances its "dramatic coherence and thematic unity" and "dizzyingly inventive action sequences." He goes on to promise, "Viewers who have grown weary of seeing cities blow up ad nauseam will scarcely believe their luck at the relative restraint and ingenuity on display." Ugh. Is it May 6th yet?


Also impressed by Civil War was Uproxx critic Mike Ryan, who flat-out called it the "best Marvel movie, and this isn't hyperbole." Much as he tries to avoid it, Ryan's review is pretty spoiler-heavy, so we'll just get to the drool-worthy last paragraph. In it, he declares: "Captain America: Civil War feels like a pinnacle for Marvel. Like, I can't imagine their movies getting any better. This feels like the crescendo. This feels like the movie this series has been building towards for eight years. After all these movies, Marvel earned this fight." And then he closes with this killer bit: "I have my doubts they can make anything better. This is as close as things come to 'superhero movie perfection.' This movie made me really happy." Superhero movie perfection. What more could you hope for?

The Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter may have loved Civil War just a tad less than the others, however, its review seems to suggest that a movie can ultimately accomplish what Batman v Superman tried and failed to do: justify epic length with sheer quality. "Posing serious questions about violence and vigilantism while reveling in both, Captain America: Civil War is overlong but surprisingly light on its feet," critic Sheri Linden writes. Linden goes on to predict that Civil War will inevitably please the hardcore faithful, but argues that what makes the movie so entertaining is its ability to suck in even people who've never read a comic book. "While the chance to see old-school Steve Rogers and modern guy Tony Stark, a.k.a. Captain America and Iron Man, go mano a mano is inherently thrilling only to diehard fans," she writes, "even nonbelievers who make it to that climactic moment will feel that something is at stake when the two face off." In other words: this movie deserves the ton of money it'll inevitably make.

USA Today

USA Today's Brian Truitt ultimately concludes that Civil War fails to live up to what he thinks is Marvel's best movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His three-and-a-half star review is still filled with praise for the film, however, which he says boasts everything from stellar performances to a strong central conflict and a gigantic amount of story. "It's a gold mine for Marvel nerds that may be dizzying for the rest," he writes. Like many critics, Truitt seems particularly impressed by the way Civil War introduces two well-known Marvel characters: Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), described as a "a Wakandan prince bearing claws and a grudge"; and Spider-Man, played by youngster Tom Holland. As Truitt puts it, "Previous movies have had issues balancing the youthful banter and scientific confidence of the comic-book wallcrawler, but Holland nails the role in every aspect."

The Wrap

If you're looking to see a superhero movie with a script to match its visual effects, Civil War may just be your cup of tea. That's according to The Wrap's Dave White, who basically says it's the exact opposite of Batman v Superman: "Unlike DC's recent franchise brick ... Civil War is an addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that, yes, moves its good guys to battle each other, but does so in the service of establishing a future of superhero responsibility." Later, White continues to praise the film for treating its central conflict as more than just a big-budget cash grab. "Screenwriting team Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely ... efficiently move plot blocks into place and check off interlocking points of order," he argues, "but they do so while never forgetting that their characters are more than brands to build."

White also reserves praise for Captain America himself, Chris Evans, crediting him for a standout performance that never takes away from the rest of the movie. "His story line is the one most beset by internal conflict, and his empathy for the torn loyalties of Cap is moving in ways that don't derail the action's urgency or pull focus from the otherwise ensemble nature of the larger project," he writes. High praise indeed.


Another review, another rave—this time, from Indiewire's Russ Fischer. In his review, Fischer writes that Civil War outshines both Avengers movies on its way to become the "fully realized team-up movie Marvel has been striving to make all these years." He goes on to single out directors Anthony and Joe Russo for particular praise, writing that "The filmmakers maintain a consistent focus on their own particular exploration of the 'with great power comes great responsibility' concept and craft one of the few satisfying end-game battles in Marvel's cinematic canon so far." But despite the massive size of the film's plot, ensemble and effects, Fischer says Civil War ultimately succeeds thanks to its focus on the basic ideas of family, friendship and power, arguing that "As big as this movie is, Captain America: Civil War thrives on a smaller, human scale." All of which sounds awesome.


With all the high praise out there for Civil War, there had to be one critic who didn't exactly love it. Enter Scott Mendelson of Forbes magazine, who writes in a tone that suggests all the overwhelmingly positive reviews of Civil War may be a bit overstated. Mendelson seems particularly peeved by the logic that Civil War uses in some cases to get from point A to B. He also thinks the movie, like its predecessor, offers too much, too soon. "Like The Winter Soldier, the first act is so bloody spectacular that I am more down on the rest of it than I otherwise should be," admits Mendelson. "Like The Winter Soldier, it gets less engrossing the bigger it becomes." Does that mean he didn't enjoy it? Hardly. His closing paragraph ultimately concludes that Civil War is indeed a good movie—but maybe not as good as it could have been.