Captain America, for all intensive purposes, is what Superman should be in this golden age of the super hero genre. Someone who has an undying passion for what is right and someone who just doesn’t like bullies picking on the little guy. What makes Captain America different from Superman, however, is that Cap has a dark side and this movie is the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that we see that dark side.
I’ve loved Captain America since probably the year 2001 when I started to realize I was really good playing as him in Marvel Vs. Capcom for Playstation 1. Each chance I have gotten to see Chris Evans play him has been a treat for me. He was cast great and Evans has owned the role. Only this time around it was clear that Evans was probably challenged in the role for the first time in five years. That can be said about the juggernaut of a cast for the entire movie.
Fresh off the overall box office success Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) comes the third film in Cap’s line of movies that can also be seen as an Avengers 2.5. The Avengers are on a mission and as per usual, there are some casualties in the process – both property and innocent lives. Immediately we flesh out characters like Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch who got overlooked in AoU as Colonel Thunderbolt Ross returns into the fold now secretary of the state (thus officially making 2008’s The Incredible Hulk canon in the MCU again) to present an accord to keep “enhanced humans” in check with the government to intervene where they see fit. What directors Joe and Anthony Russo do in this movie is they play to the human traits of these characters just as director Joss Whedon did in AoU, only this time the issue isn’t a murder-bot voiced by James Spader. Instead, the issue is a house divided among itself.
What Captain America: Civil War (2016) does so well is it shows that as The Avengers grow, they invite more challenges to defeat them. However, what happens when the challenge is someone you would consider family at this point? The movie drives the point that if you truly cannot come to a compromise on a matter, then you must stand you ground and tell the other person to move. What happens, though, when that force is an unmovable object? Cap and Iron Man are the core of this issue as neither backs down and it hurts to see two characters with such history go down this path. This is Robert Downey Jr.’s sixth go as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man and it may be his best take on the character yet.
We’ve seen Tony go through a bit of a spiral in terms of his morality throughout Phase 2 of the Marvel universe. He’s shell shocked from the Battle of New York in The Avengers (2012) and he’s responsible for the events of Age of Ultron and because of all of this he’s essentially reached his limit and has to turn on his closest ally, Captain America; but for good reason! What Civil War does so well that the comic it is loosely based off of doesn’t (key word loosely, the movie doesn’t depend on the source material) is it doesn’t make Tony out to be the bad guy. Yes, this is at its core a Captain America movie – Cap is 100% the protagonist and the events that unfold correlate with the second Captain America movie just as much as the events of AoU. Tony has every reason to feel the way he does in this movie just as Cap does and the rest of the Avengers as well as the newcomers.
Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland make their debuts as Black Panther and Spider-Man, respectively; and they both bring it in this movie. Both characters have their time to shine and shockingly enough, both characters are really fleshed out as the movie progresses. Black Panther essentially has his entire origin story told through the events of the movie and this new version of Spider-Man, I kid you not, could be the best iteration of the character yet. Spider-Man is my favorite super hero of all time. hands down, no question about it. I relate to his moral compass and he’s someone that as a kid I truly wanted to be. More than Batman. What Tom Holland did for this character is he put every super hero fan in Spidey’s shoes and handled himself like any star struck super hero nerd would. Stumbling over his words and just in awe of being in the same room as Captain America, Iron Man, and the rest of them.
What works so well with both Spider-Man and Black Panther, in fact with all of the major players in this movie, is everyone’s motivations are clearly on display. It’s not as black and white as the trailers make the titular Civil War to be. Different characters feel different ways about the events that unfold and the sides they choose are for their own reasons. With all of these characters in this one movie it’s actually quite remarkable how the directors were able to flesh out each individual character and still make a two and a half hour movie feel way too short.
Civil War is easily one of the best and most thought out super hero movies I have seen. As of now I put it at number two in my rankings of Marvel’s films behind Guardians of the Galaxy. I give Guardians the edge only because in terms of taking characters I didn’t know at all and making me fall in love with them and care as deeply as I do for characters I’ve had preconceived notions about is something I have to give the edge.
Overal Rating: 8.5/10 – Fantastic
Despite it being a Captain America movie to its core, Civil War is a great follow-up to the events of Phase 2 and it serves as a better Avengers movie than Age of Ultron. Black Panther has a great introduction and when my favorite super hero of all time makes a reference to my favorite film franchise of all time, it’s a home run in my book. If this is any implication for what’s to come in Phase 3, then I to say I’m excited is an understatement.
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