“Captain America: Civil War” is a new high for Marel blockbusters
For me, nothing will ever get tiring as long as it keeps bringing something new to the table, showing what we haven’t seen before and pulling the rug out from under us. As long as one thing can continue to change up what we know and expect, it will never get boring.
“Captain America: Civil War” shows us that superhero movies are no exception to this little rule of mine. This is a different film than what we’ve seen before in the vast expanses of the Marvel Universe, switching up the game not with a genre change (as done so with films like “Ant-Man” or “Guardians of the Galaxy”), but with a change in themes and ideas. We really should have seen the bitter rivalry between the characters of Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers coming, but Marvel shows that perhaps they are as good with subtle character beats as they are with explosive finales.
Many viewers, especially the younger audience or those more out of tune with the 13 films and 8 seasons of television Marvel has served up, will know these characters as Iron Man and Captain America. They are titans, men with incredible abilities, that save the world time and time again. But to die-hard Marvel fans, such as myself, the fight portrayed in this film takes on a lot more weight, as if it’s seeing people that we know fighting each other.
This is not to say that non-comic book nerds won’t enjoy this film. There are things about this film that are pretty universally fun; huge battles, dark humor, twists and turns, and who doesn’t love Spider-Man? All of these things are handled very well by the directors, Joe and Anthony Russo (who previously helmed the fantastic “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) playing with things in the same 5 minutes that maybe shouldn’t work, but really does. But above all, this is a character film, mainly for the aforementioned heroes Iron Man and Cap. But also for some smaller characters.
Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier is one of the intriguing forefronts of this film, as is Elizabeth Olsen’s tortured Scarlet Witch, still recovering from the final events of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” There some some fun new characters thrown in, most notably Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), whose main goal is revenge, which means he doesn’t have time for the usual quippy chit-chat of The Avengers (Ryan Coogler of “Creed” fame is making his solo film in 2018). This provides a nice contrast of Tom Holland’s joyful and funny portrayal of Spider-Man, whose 15 minutes of screen time is the best portrayal of the web-head in film history. Finally, there is Daniel Bruhl’s version of a famed Marvel villain (no spoilers here!), whose fleshed-out character motivations and actions, make him a bright spot in the usually bland set of Marvel villains.
To bring all of this to a head, “Captain America: Civil War” is probably the best film that Marvel has made; funny, smart, action-packed, and heartfelt. While I still believe that “The Dark Knight” is the greatest superhero film ever made, “Civil War” sets the golden standard for modern superhero flicks. This is a film made with care, never settling for the lowest common denominator, surprising the viewers with themes that connect to the real world, while managing to stick in what we know and love from films like “The Avengers”. People think that superhero pictures will go the way of the western. Westerns faded away because they all became the same film. If we keep getting films like “Captain America: Civil War”, then I doubt that the effect will set in for a very long time.
Final Grade: A+