In Captain America: Civil War, we have a film that represent a number of things. Since superhero movies are going to continue to fill our theaters for the foreseeable future, it’s important for both studios and members of the general public who are interested in them to pay attention to what this does. This isn’t to say it’s a perfect film, but it manages to prevail where several other movies of this genre repeatedly fail.
Picking up after Age of Ultron, Civil War finds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and The Avengers under a growing amount of political pressure after their efforts to thwart a terrorist attack ends in the loss of innocent lives. As a result, this leaves the team in an undesirable predicament with government officials promising to put restrictions on the unit. With Rogers leading the way, some of these superheroes decide to stand against the move while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) takes a surprising stance that the remaining heroes choose to rally behind.
With the two camps already growing further and further apart, things only become more complicated with the mysterious Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) still lurking around. His presence only widens the divide as many believe he can’t be trusted due to both his past allegiances and the current threat that he may present to anyone who comes into contact with him. Those combustible components that he brings with him are bad enough, but things take yet another turn once a masked man known as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) sets his sights on the war criminal who Captain America calls a friend.
I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Civil War is really an Avengers movie masked as a Captain America movie. Sure, I would say that Steve Rogers/Captain America is essentially the main character if I were forced to pick one person, but it’s hard to say that there’s a lead protagonist. Instead of having a definitive lead in the usual sense, plenty of characters both old and new get screen time while also having something to do.
Putting this many characters together in one picture has always proven to be a difficult task, but it’s done well this time around by slimming down a story that could have been made to feel bloated and overbearing. That’s one of the fears that some people may have when it comes to the quality of this picture. Movies of this magnitude often struggle to find that kind of stability, and that has caused various features with potential to falter numerous times in the past.
Ultimately, the success of this comic book movie should be respected due to its entertainment value, but you’ll find that this authentic element of effective storytelling in Civil War is a major positive here. This aids in making the movie balanced in spite of their being so many people fighting for your attention. A lot of movies this long tend to waste time doing nothing instead of just choosing to use all of the interesting ingredients that it may have at its disposal. I guess that’s usually how we end up with good characters and acting being wasted by shoddy filmmaking.
Is that a cheap shot at Batman V Superman? Yes. Is it deserved? 110%.
Handling it this way and connecting everything together allows the creators of Civil War to introduce the characters in a way where it all fits into what’s going on each time. Whether someone is being reintroduced like Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) or it’s someone who is being brought into the cinematic universe of Marvel for the first time like Spider-Man (Tom Holland) or Black Panther, they all blend in with what’s taking place while also getting appropriate opportunities to show bits of their personalities.
This isn’t some sort of amazing piece of filmmaking or storytelling from my perspective. It is good, but that’s what we should always expect from any movie that has professionals behind it. When thinking about it a little, it’s kind of sad when you give credit to a film for simply being able to properly tell a story. Obviously it’s not a well balanced comparison that I’m about to use, but it’s kind of like giving people praise for being good parents. In the world of cinema, telling a coherent story is what you’re supposed to do. You shouldn’t celebrate when experienced professionals do that. I guess that says something about where we are in modern Hollywood, but I’ll save my opinions on that for some other time.
Anyway, we were also supposed to be expecting an altered tone in Civil War when compared to previous Marvel films. Although it is a bit heavier as promised, the mood remains positive and light for the most part. While I don’t have a huge problem with this, some people may want what’s seen here to be even harder and maybe even a little darker. Not saying that it needs to be something that would make ladies of older generations walk out of the theaters in disgust, but having a tiny bit more of an edge to it may have been the way to go. Because that doesn’t happen, it still ultimately feels like a Disney production. That will be good news for some, but it will also be bad for at least a few.
Including the stuff I haven’t touched on, Civil War definitely has a ton of talking points for its audience to go over after they watch it. The most important thing here is that it gets just about everything right as far as quality and story are concerned. They could just keep putting this stuff out with not much effort behind any of it, but they appear to want to get better as a whole. Even if some of us want this genre to at least slow down to some extent, the clear attempt to improve is actually something that I’m sure most of us can support.
Even though it isn’t as good as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Civil War looks to be the best Avengers movie so far. Taking the time to make a quality product while potentially getting audiences excited for the future are a couple of the reasons why it finds success. The fact that this is also just an honest attempt at providing entertainment is another reason why that’s the case. If films both in and outside of the comic book genre put a greater emphasis on those aspects, we’d have even more movies this good or even better at a more frequent rate.
Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo
Robert Downey Jr.
Film Length: 146 minutes
Release Date: May 6, 2016
Distributor: Marvel Comics
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10