Can you think of a bad Marvel movie? I’m not talking about Sony Marvel who put out those sub-par Amazing Spider Man films and created the cinematic fart that is the last Fantastic 4 film. I mean the real Marvel who put out the Iron Man Movies, The Avengers, and Guardians Of The Galaxy and who have cornered the market on superhero movies and transformed making blockbusters into a science. I can’t think of a single truly bad film that Marvel has made since their cinematic universe was launched. No, Marvel has almost solely made good movies and have defined the summer blockbuster for the new millennium. Given what we all know about the quality of Marvel movies, is it any surprise that Captain America: Civil War is down right great?
Captain America:Civil War, based of the comic of the same name, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, and Sebastian Stan. After an accident during an Avengers mission kills several innocents the world calls for a superhero registration act to be passed. Iron Man (Downey Jr.) supports it, but Captain America (Evans) doesn’t, believing that being controlled by big government would hinder their ability to help as many people as possible. Tensions rise after a terrorist attack is blamed on Bucky Barnes, AKA The Winter Soldier (Stan), Cap’s old friend turned brainwashed assassin. After discovering that Bucky was framed, Bucky and Captain America search for the true culprit while being hunted down by both the authorities and by Iron Man who teams up with their other close friends.
The main problem with the film is that it’s adapted from a very flawed comic, which despite being the most famous Captain America story in several years, is not very good because of its framing device. In order to have all of their heroes fight in a war, they had to bend them out of character way past the boundary of both realism and competence. Every hero was acting analogous to whom they have always been. In addition, the superhero registration act they were fighting over was never explained in depth so we as readers could never understand why they were so passionate about the debate that it drove them to a war.
Considering how fundamentally convoluted the source material was, I admire the screen writers for creating a movie that even remotely competent and fixed a lot of the problems from the book. They give actual reasoning to why Tony Stark believes so fervently in registering superheros: In Age of Ultron, he created a super intelligence that almost destroyed humanity, and therefore feels responsible for all the death that occurred in that film. His guilt makes him and his cause a lot more understandable rather than bluntly evil and irrational as it was in the comics. In addition to this, they explain the details of the act better in the film than in the book and the lead in to the war is much more realistic and smooth being spurred on by pressure from those around the heroes. Most importantly, they didn’t make the entire battle about a piece of nondescript legislation, and instead mostly made it about Bucky who most of the heroes think is a terrorist. These changes make the story so much more intelligent and relatable. Because these characters are fighting for realistic reasons, the action becomes more compelling than in the comic. However, it’s still a fundamentally flawed premise; Captain America and Ironman are friends and are too smart to fight. Any logical person would try to talk it out first, and come to an agreement. Luckily, most audience members can of sweep it under the rug of suspension of disbelief but that will still leave a large bump in your carpet. But once you ignore the basic convoluted nature of the plot, the movie becomes fantastic.
The writing here is great, some of the best a Marvel movie has had so far. The film dips with intrigue, suspense, character, and humor. This is also the best action film so far this year. The fight choreography is seamless and flowing, blending realism and comic book fantastical action into the essence of entertainment. Anytime a fight was on screen I was smiling. The acting was great, with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans once again showing off how perfectly cast they were, and newcomers like Tom Holland as Spiderman and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther not failing to impress. Black Panther is interesting, compelling, and a joy to watch in a fight, and he was one of the best aspects of this film. The other new arrival, Tom Holland’s Spiderman, perfectly captures the clever and quipping but awkward teen that Spider Man truly is and that so many other films have failed to capture. However, despite his inclusion being one of the high points of the film, I feel that more than anything he is merely fan service as if he were not included in the film the only thing Civil War would have lost would have been run time.
This movie partly falls into that realm of Spider Man 3, where there were so many characters that none of them get enough focus. Luckily, the picture provides ample screen time to the three main characters (Iron Man, Bucky Barnes, and Captain America), but it feels like more time should have been dedicated to Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Scarlet Witch (Ant Man gets the worst of it, having about 4 to 5 minutes to himself). Furthermore, if the movie wanted to be more emotionally impactful some relationships should have been focused on more, ones like the friendship between Captain America and Iron Man to make the destruction of their friendship more tragic, and the friendship between Captain America and Bucky Barnes to make Cap’s reasons for going to war more understandable. But all these problems are pretty negligible compared to how fantastic the rest of the film is. Captain America: Civil War is probably Marvel’s best film since the first Avengers movie. The writing is immaculate, the action is gripping, the characters are relatable and loveable to the point where you can’t even pick which side you want to win. It is a powerhouse of a movie that I will give an A.
By Sam Finbury