Let’s not beat around the bush and get this statement out of the way immediately. Captain America: Civil War is the best Marvel film to date. Hands down, no other Marvel film that has come before it has captured the essence of the characters as well as this film effortlessly did. The Russo brothers have found the perfect tone for the Marvel universe that remains consistent with the original tone while taking things more realistic as to how superheroes would exist in the real world. But despite more emphasis on realism and consequences, the film never forgets that it is in fact a comic book movie consisting of a great roster of Marvel cinematic characters. The Russo brother’s approach to the Captain America franchise is more like a Jason Bourne film with superheroes, and it worked extremely well in this film. Captain America: Civil War is evidence that even in phase three of the Marvel cinematic universe, the series still has some bite to it. And with the Russo brothers behind the next few Avengers films, it seems like the cinematic universe is only getting started.
In the aftermath of the events in Age of Ultron, as well as a recent event, The Avengers are held responsible for the damage that has taken place since their formation. U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross propose a bill to keep The Avengers in line with the United Nations. Tony Stark, whom is dealing with processing the casualties they’ve cause in the past, agrees to the act. He feels that there should be something to keep them in check. Steve Rogers, however, sees the dangers in the government controlling their actions. When Captain America refuses to sign the act, and also refuses to turn in his best friend and fugitive Bucky Barnes, Iron Man has no other choice but to go after him in order to protect Cap from the military coming down on him. Their conflict of ideas over the act leads to the two once friends and Avenger members going head to head against each other.
What I liked
Captain America: Civil War is a Captain America film first, and an Avengers film second. Rogers could have easily gotten lost within the star studded cast, but stands out as the main focus of the film instead. Stark is the only character that has close to as much screen time as Rogers, and most of it serves the storyline of how Rogers refuses to cooperate with them over the act. But despite the story revolving around Captain America, the film also did a great job of introducing new characters to the Marvel cinematic universe while doing the returning characters justice in the time they were given on screen.
Speaking of new characters, both The Black Panther and Spider-Man were handled expertly. Black Panther is one of my all time favorite superheroes for years. I remember talks about a Black Panther film way before Wesley Snipes played Blade. But the film never took off, and Snipes eventually went on to play the famous daywalker. But the film remained in developmental hell as the rights lingered unused before eventually returning to Marvel. I was thoroughly convinced that I would never see my favorite superhero grace the screen until now. And boy did he ever grace it. Chadwick Boseman embodied T’Challa perfectly, and brought the character to the screen in a way that paid absolute respect to the Black Panther. And if you’re a die hard Black Panther fan, then there’s some fan service for you in the film. And one moment of fan service for die hard fans is the brief appearance of a character only Black Panther readers will recognize. The character was handled well, and the setup for a solo film was set up without ever feeling forced.
Another great addition is Spider-Man, which basically stole the show. Tom Holland embodied the character unlike any other actor before. He’s hands down the funniest moments of the film. And after five films based on the character from Sony, Marvel was able to deliver their version of the character that will make fans crave his turn in a solo film. That feat alone makes Tom Holland the definitive Spider-Man. I can’t speak much about how amazing he was as the character (see what I did there) without getting in to spoiler territory, so I’ll just say that he is definitely one of the biggest highlights of the film.
One of the best things about the film involves the perspective of both Stark and Rodgers. There’s no right or wrong in their choices. Both reasons are valid. Tony feels the need to have limitations to what they’re able to do, and Rodgers fears the idea of The Avengers being controlled by the government, which makes sense as well. The big battle in the commercials happen later in the film, but the majority of the running time is dedicated to fleshing out their reasoning for their decisions. It’s a slow build up of tension between the two before they eventually come to blows, and the audience is never told who to root for. It’s Cap’s film, but his reasoning for his actions can seem just as flawed as Iron Man’s when analyzed. The two men are put in to an impossible situation, and a collision between the two is completely unavoidable.
Speaking of their collision, the best part of the film is when the big airport fight occurs. While the destruction is safely contained to one area, the scene is possibly the best fight in the Marvel cinematic universe. It played off of each character’s strengths in order to give us a battle that seems to be right out of the pages of a comic book. Every character fought in a way like you’d imagine. The chaos in the airport is easily the highlight of the film, and the build up leading to it made it feel like a huge payoff in the end. If this is how the Russo brothers plan on handling The Avengers in the future, then what a time to be alive for a comic book fan.
What I disliked
My reviews usually follow the order of my thoughts, plot outline, what I liked, and what I disliked. But in all honesty, I’m grasping at straws to find something I truly dislike about the film. It’s almost, if not, a perfect comic book film. The story is easy to follow, the characters are well developed even if they might consist of a few scenes in the film, the villain had an understandable and relatable motive, and the action was some of the absolute best in a comic movie, or any movie for that matter. But because I have to find something to dislike about this film out of fairness and to not let my fanboying dictate my reviews, I found the final after credits scene underwhelming. It simply told us something we already knew was going to happen. And while it doesn’t take anything at all away from the film, I just wish it would have been a little more exciting.
I won’t say Captain America: Civil War is flawless. I’m pretty sure we could find flaws in it if we search hard enough, but there are no flaws on the surface. It’s one of the very few movies that becomes more enjoyable on a second viewing, and ends what could be considered one of the best trilogies today as the Captain America films have only grown better with its sequels. And if this is the last Captain America film, then it’s a great sendoff for the character. And best yet, it proved that Robert Downey Jr. still has a lot to bring to Iron Man before he’s done with the character. After eight years of playing Tony Stark, he brought out a new side of the character we haven’t seen before. Captain America: Civil War is outstanding, and well worth multiple viewings. If not the perfect comic film, then it’s pretty damn close.