SPOILERS… and all that jazz.
Based on a number of posts that I have seen, it does seem like we are in an age where the superhero genre of cinematics is seemingly cliché; with people saying that perhaps superhero movies are repetitive and superfluous with their recurring development been on the annual movie lists. With this we seem to have Marvel Studios’ first film of 2016 been not only a live-action take on an infamous comic storyline but also themed like an unintentional simulation to DC Comics first 2016 film. So what of Captain America: Civil War?
First off, yes, it is simple to compare ‘Captain America: Civil War’ to ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ but as I finally watched the film, the differences were more forward than I had intended. Based on what I can only hypothesise, if this was Avengers III: Civil War I would imagine something bigger and louder to be the case like it was in Dawn of Justice. However this is a Captain America film and though the titular character is quite bold in appearance, Civil War seems to emphasise that this is a Captain America film by blending espionage tropes like cloak and dagger combat, terrorism and political ideology (though these manifest a lot in superhero films, I felt that they are to a greater peak due to the nature of this been a Captain America film) with the general superhero tropes of action, adventure and amazing powers and abilities.
‘Captain America: Civil War’ is based on Marvel Comics’ ‘Civil War’ storyline but mostly in its foundation. The main focus of the film is the relationship of the characters that are Avengers (instead of including x-men, Fantastic Four et al due to licensing reasons), and the act of reflecting the Civil War story into something that relates to the Cinematic Universe’s history. This is explained by ‘Civil War’ been a year since the events of ‘Age of Ultron’ where the city of Sokovia’s destruction occurred. With an Avenger’s-based intervention, occurring at the start of the film in Lagos, having innocents’ lives become lost, it becomes a question of if the Avengers’ members need control. This concept fuels a feud for Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Rogers’ choosing of the Avengers’ freewill to sort any situation they come across on their own terms is opposed by Stark’s support of the government making the decisions for the actions of superhumans and users of advanced gadgetry.
The fuel for the feud is mainly in the way of a B-story that focuses on the arrival of Rogers’ old ally and friend-turned brainwashed assassin Bucky a.k.a The Winter Solider (Sebastian Shaw), as well as the occasional appearance of ‘actual villain’ Helmet Zemo (Daniel Brühl).
A lot of people have said that this film is the greatest Marvel film to date. If by greatest they mean the most characters then fair enough; it does seem to have that. As far as the most amazing film Marvel film to be made so far, I’m not sure. I didn’t get the level of enjoyment other movie have delivered before ‘Civil War’. This is by no means me saying that ‘Civil War’ is a bad film, it was better than Dawn of Justice whilst been alike, in terms of superhero vs. superhero action, and it has been one of the most enjoyable films in quite sometime in the MCU (maybe this is what other critics are trying to say when they say best Marvel film, I don’t know). All I can say is this is the most enjoyable film I’ve seen from Marvel Studios since ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’; though this could just mean that 2015 was all in all just not a good year for the MCU for whatever reason.
What was enjoyable about the film was the method of showing why each character was on the side that they were. I was worried this was to be a rushed attempt that would be hazed by the combat of the film but as the events of the film play out each side has its questions as to if it is the more righteous/helpful side whilst facing the responsibilities of the decisions made. As for the combat itself, Civil War has some of the most creative and unique fight scenes I have seen in a superhero film for some time. Instead of dull punches or plot-associated shooting scenes, Civil War is creative in making sure that the viewers know that each character has their own special array of powers and abilities and gets effort for trying to show potential in each character, though at times this was not truly achieved to peak potential since so much was happening to make it matter. Ant Man (Paul Rudd) trying out his Giant Man abilities is fun but seems to be somewhat distracting and ‘slow’.
In terms of recently brought up characters from last year’s two films, with Ant Man I felt like even though there was an forced attempt to make the character worthy of been in this film, the usually comedy-based superheroics of Scott Lang were a good way of making the film that bit more light-hearted. As for characters returning from Age of Ultron, the Scarlet Witch’s (Elizabeth Olsen) use of power was very interesting and creative and one of my hopes for this film was that she would get more flexibility with her powers. Not only does the film show this more but adds more depth to the powers themselves in relation to the bestowing of them to her from the Mind Stone, which I thought was a strong decision to include to this film. Speaking of the Mind Stone, the Vision (Paul Bettany), who has said powerful gem as a part of his physiology, was a favourite to watch develop. From the nature of his powers to his attempted understanding of human nature, Vision was a fascinating character to take enjoyment in viewing in this film. The relationship he tries to build with Scarlet Witch and her power’s relationship to the Mind Stone that powers him is a wonderful reflection to themselves and also an association to their relationship in the comic books.
As for new superheroes, the two that we have are big players which most would argue, I’d think, are worthy of MCU appearances. First is T’Challa a.k.a Black Panther (Chadwich Boseman), whose appearances in Panther costume and out of Panther costume were great to watch. The way that T’Challa is shown as an intelligent, strong-willed character, full of physical and mental prowess, makes him a watchable superhero. The character has been an enjoyable character in comics and animation and now thanks to this film, live-action too. Boseman makes himself an actor that I can trust as been good as a protagonist in their own film. As for the first Marvel Cinematic Universe’s appearance of Peter Parker, the Spider-Man (Tom Holland), there are a lot of positive things to be said. Holland plays the character in the more agreeable way that I like to see Spider-Man, as well as Parker himself. Although a little younger than I would have liked, this feels forgiven when Holland makes the character very grown up for his age whilst allowing the character to develop a rather delightful and fluid curiosity that Parker commits to even in combat. I can imagine it been hard to play Spider-Man because of how well-known the character’s history and personality is in popular culture but Holland does a damn-good attempt.
As for the more political and well, Captain America-orientated parts, these sometimes felt slow and only necessary for the fact that Captain America is in the title. To be fair I did enjoy the first two Captain America movies but it hasn’t been my favourite title in Marvel Studio film sets. Although Daniel Brühl’s Helmet Zemo was a well-designed villain to sharpen the flow of the movie and to give it an antagonist to complete the superhero movie formula, the character is easy to not care about and I felt was easy to forget too. This is somewhat paradoxical in the villain that’s so insidious in the film that it makes them ironically brilliant at their scheme whilst also making the ability to see them as watchable apathetic compared to the rest of the characters.
This film nevertheless was a fun film whilst been very grown up for a Marvel film; allowing the characters to sit down and talk in order to show them been able to development and grow whilst been more enjoyable without asking them to give up the use of action. The film has its flaws mind you, some of the scenes dragged yet I can sympathise that the more boring scenes were helpful in the film; I just felt that they could be more summarized perhaps. Also the amount of characters is crossed with a lot of jumping around. Sometimes this was needed but in the end it made Civil War jagged in storytelling. I do recommend watching it but I do feel like I need to miss some important stuff out like Agent 13, Martin Freeman in the MCU and War Machine just to wrap this review up but the film can explain all that to you.
Just one more thing, I was on Team Rogers. Just in case you were wondering.