If you’ve been waiting for the quintessential Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War just delivered it. The film skillfully blends the smartly paced political thriller aspect of Captain America: Winter Soldier with the unabashed rock’em sock’em comic book movie aspect of The Avengers. The result is a perfectly balanced action film, with an emotional through-line that really sets it apart from its predecessors.
As much good as the Avengers have done in the world, they have left behind a trail of destruction and tragedy, and as a result, the UN has decided the Avengers must concede to act under their control, or disband. Tony Stark believes they should be held accountable for their actions, and is willing to do what it takes to keep the Avengers together. Steve Rogers opposes the proposal, believing it will lead to an ineffectual team under the control of parties with their own agendas. An incident with Cap’s old buddy, Bucky, AKA The Winter Soldier, further fans the flames of the debate, thus creating the catalyst for the dissent in the ranks of the Avengers.
If you’ve read the Civil War storyline in the comics, you’ll be happy how well they intertwined the basic premise of story into the existing MCU. It’s not an exact adaption, but a close enough proximity to satisfy hardcore fans. Be warned, make sure that you’re up on your MCU history, because while this acts as a sequel to Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, it references quite a few movies in the MCU.
Though Thor and the Hulk are missing from the action, a few new characters are introduced in their place. Spider-Man’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not disappoint. Tom Holland portrays Peter/Spidy with the perfect blend of rookie “aww shucks” innocence and super powered arrogance. While the previous onscreen incarnations of Spider-Man circled the rim of what made the ideal Spidy, Civil War nails it, proving Marvel does Marvel best. Based on his small role in Civil War, there is no doubt the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the best in the storied film franchise of the character.
Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man shows up relatively briefly, but his appearance is very welcomed (when isn’t Paul Rudd welcomed?). While Spider-Man and Ant-Man’s roles in the movie are fairly frivolous (despite Spidy’s setting up his solo film), Black Panther’s role carries a lot of the emotional weight of the film. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Chadwick Boseman in the role (a solo Black Panther film is slated for a July 6, 2018 release).
As the trailers have teased, we are treated to a no holds barred (well, some holds barred) brawl between to two factions, and it proves to be not just the highlight of the film, but the highlight of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. In short, it is an absolute blast to watch. It doesn’t matter which team you find yourself rooting for, because the grudge match between the characters is so damn fun to watch that you just don’t want it to end. It is particularly fun to see Spider-Man and Ant-Man in the mix, as they provide most of the comic relief in the scene.
As good as Civil War is, it is not a perfect movie. While the resolve of the story makes sense within the context of the film, it proves to be a bit unsatisfying. Without giving too much away, the fact that a bulk of the conflict is between our teams of heroes, it has to divert from the standard trope of a comic book film, which is a bit off putting. Though, as we know there are more films to follow, this likely places Civil War into the same category as Empire Strikes Back. Another minor quibble I have is that at the outset of the film, the Avengers are presented with two choices, but I can’t believe no one would have even suggested trying to develop a third option, or a compromise of some sort.
But these flaws are trivial. Captain America: Civil War is about personal anguish, and the power that revenge holds, but does not allow that to bog down the film into a murky, moody mess. The script treats these darker themes with maturity and intelligence, while allowing for the enjoyment of a comic book movie to stand out. This is in contrast to the similarly themed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, whose tone is that of an irrationally angst-ridden teen who is angrily giving the middle finger to the world. Civil War’s strong script is supported by some really nice performances, particularly by Boseman, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, who are the emotional core of the film.
Captain America: Civil War is not only the best Marvel film we have seen, but one of the best comic book movies to date.