Captain America: Civil War is in the news for all of the right reasons, making boatloads of that sweet, highly-sought after superhero movie cash from fans eager to spend. It was hyped up a great deal, which seemed risky leading up to its release. Statements were made about how this film would be bigger than Age of Ultron, how it will be the biggest blockbuster of 2016, and so on. How has Civil War stood up to the hype that preceded its release? The short answer is ‘exceedingly well’.
The longer answer is that Captain America: Civil War is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s greatest achievement in terms of creating a film true to the nature of its source material. Civil War has all of the trimmings of proper comic book intensity: over-the-top action sequences brought to pass by larger-than-life heroes.
This installment in the Marvel Comics Universe excels in so many ways because it feels like a fresh approach to the genre. Instead of focusing on some big, bad villain as previous movies had, audiences were provided a glimpse of the downsides of The Avengers and their day-saving actions. This was less about cheering for the good guys and more about answering the question of what happens in the aftermath of the big super-hero battles that round off many similar films. The main antagonist of the film feels like an afterthought as the true villain is the perceived complacency of The Avengers in the wake of the destruction they are, in part or in full at times, responsible for. The tension is built up expertly between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, with the movie gradually finding its way to the central conflict which pitted Avenger against Avenger. The goal with Civil War was to reshape the story of The Avengers, and it did exactly that.
Any flaws this film had, as few as they were, felt minuscule compared to how well-executed it was overall.
Most important of all, however, was the introduction of a MCU Spider-Man. As one of many who held the mindset that Donald Glover would have made an excellent Miles Morales, I was initially opposed to yet another Peter Parker in a world with two lackluster iterations of Spidey. The intellectual property war preventing Spider-Man (among others) from showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe made this concession between two studios a hot topic of conversation. Civil War was a great proving ground for Tom Holland’s take on the role, and it should be perfect for generating all of the right kind of enthusiasm for his first solo Spider-Man movie. Without spoiling his time in the movie: he was just the right blend of awkward and eager to meet his heroes. Spider-Man was written into Civil War in a way that felt organic; the character wasn’t just added in as an after-thought. He was introduced well, in a fun-to-watch way, and joined the action like he’d been there the whole time. It would be nice to say the same of Black Panther’s introduction, but he felt a bit more shoehorned in. Arguably, the way he became involved in the events of Civil War worked. It just felt a bit lazy compared to how fluidly the rest of the film flowed. That said, he was a fully-realized character and the arrival of the Black Panther solo film in February 2018 can’t get here soon enough. Similarly, it’s refreshing to hear Black Widow is finally getting the solo film treatment and fans feel her solo debut has big potential.
Marvel has big shoes to fill after Captain America: Civil War. Up to this point, all signs pointed to Thanos’s arrival being the biggest, wildest event the Marvel Cinematic Universe had to offer. Josh Brolin will undoubtedly deliver a performance as the Mad Titan that will inspire fear and awe, but there is now a chance Infinity Wars Part One and Part Two (soon to be renamed, as it turns out) could end up being over-shadowed by how well the Russo brothers did with this installment in the Captain America films. Granted, they’re working on Infinity Wars, so it’s probably safe to say they’ll be cinematic goldmines as well.
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Any flaws this film had, as few as they were, felt minuscule compared to how well-executed it was overall. Simply put: Captain America: Civil War looks to be the movie to see this summer. It did Marvel’s Civil War event justice by not only meeting expectations, but exceeding them. This film wasn’t simply a comic book adapted for film; it felt like the way a reader’s imagination gives comics life and animation, and that will likely be this film’s—and one of MCU’s—greatest milestone achievements.
By Phil Gorski