At this point, does this movie even need an introduction?
By now, if you’re not intimately familiar with Marvel’s cinematic universe and the setup for Civil War, you probably just don’t care about these movies, so you can stop reading now. Otherwise, I’m quite sure you’re award of the scenario – a difference of opinion between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) regarding the
Superhero Registration Act Sokovia Accords causes a rift between The Avengers and brings in some new faces in the process. With one side fighting for freedom of autonomy and the other believing governmental oversight is the right choice, it’s a setup that reflects aspects of today’s political culture.
Probably more anticipated than Age of Ultron, Civil War is practically an Avengers movie itself. With only Hulk and Thor missing from the roster, and the addition of newcomers Black Panther and *gasp* Spider-Man, it’s a jam packed ensemble. Not to mention Ant-Man comes off the sidelines to play too. It’s a little disingenuous to call it a “Captain America” movie with so much else going on parallel to Steve Rogers’ part, but that’s really just semantics since the full barrel of characters doesn’t result in an overstuffed glut that takes away from the core story.
With Winter Soldier being my favorite of these Marvel flicks, this sequel, also directed by the Russo brothers, had a lot to live up to. I went in with sky high expectations that weren’t quite met, but I wasn’t disappointed either.
The action scenes suffer a bit from overusing shaky cam at times. The handheld look adds a frantic realism to the choreography but makes things a bit hard to focus on and follow. Seeing the film in IMAX 3D probably magnified this issue, but it did nag at me at times. That minor complaint aside, this movie certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the action. There are things here you have never seen before, except perhaps caught in the still frame of a comic book. Combining parkour with supernatural abilities and military precision on a grand scale, the fights are exceptional and allow for a number of hero shots that surpass even that group shot from the opening scene of Ultron. I mean when Chris Evans grabs hold of that helicopter and tries to stop it from taking off, that’s a poster worthy of dreamy eyed girls’ and imagination filled boys’ bedrooms alike. It’s awe inspiring.
Left out of much of the marketing, but certainly here, is the villain Zemo (Daniel Brühl). While not the main attraction, and sticking to the shadows for much of the film, he deserves special mention. He might not be as entertaining a villain as Loki, but unlike the majority of Marvel’s cinematic baddies, he’s decidedly not one note in more ways than one, and that is immensely appreciated.
More buzz has probably been about newcomers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Tom Holland and Chadwick Boseman as Spider-Man and Black Panther, respectively, than any of the actual main players. It’s well deserved. Embodying the youngest on-screen version of Peter Parker yet, Holland is – dare I say – adorable in just the right sort of way. Spunky, witty, and gung-ho, this is a webslinger I can’t wait to see more of. Oh so thankfully, we drop in on “Underoos” after he’s already established himself as the masked hero – no need for another spider bite and dramatic death of Uncle Ben. We don’t even get the famous line that’s said again, and again, and again. We do hear Peter talk about how he feels about his powers which nicely reflect that advice that we all know his uncle gave him, but not in a contrived way, so that’s nice.
Speaking of origin stories, we also don’t get one when it comes to Black Panther. There are a couple of lines that explain just enough of who he is to make sense, but it looks like Marvel may finally be done with spending too much time with backstories in their universe, even for characters less well known than, say, Cap and Spidey. It will be interesting to see how they handle the weird world of Dr. Strange coming up later this year. It’s about time we did away with so much setup – we get it, there are people with strange abilities and powers around the world, we don’t have to spend half a movie explaining them.
Back to Civil War. There is so, so much to like about this movie. It really is the defining comic book movie of this era, taking the mantle that was previously worn by, arguably, Spider-Man and then the first Avengers movie. Fittingly so, considering this is something of a mashup of the two. The one weakness is that it spends so much effort being a likeable gold standard of the genre (successfully), that it doesn’t quite fulfill its potential to go above that and create a new standard instead of just excelling in the current one. Without going into spoiler territory, I can say that while it does have some surprises up its sleeve, it does not take nearly as many risks as was perhaps expected and wished for by some. It’s a coherent amalgamation of dozens of applause worthy moments living on the backbone of a rather solid, if expected, plot.
While far superior to Ultron in its handling of a massive cast and plot, it lacks the intimacy, urgency, and originality of some of the other more isolated efforts – Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy come to mind. It’s just enough to make it just a really really good movie instead of something that will blow your second pair of socks out the window. I’ll leave you with one last bit to chew on – I won’t be the first or last to draw this comparison, but there are many parallels between this film and the recent DC cluster that was BvSDoJ. The difference here is that we know, understand, and like everyone involved, things almost always actually make sense, and it is a whole lotta fun. Pay attention, DC – you can make your movies as dark and gritty as you like, but they need to have those three elements in the mix also to work. And that’s why you are going to love Civil War.
Mrs. Hamster says:
Brother Hamster says:
“Civil War was AMAAAAZING! (Spiderman pun not intended)”
My rating: Four out of five hats (+a half?)
Captain America – Civil War clashes in 4,226 theaters, including IMAX 3D, May 6