Captain America: Civil War, the third and certainly not last superhero movie to be released in 2016, learned many valuable lessons from its predecessor, The Winter Soldier.
With a political thriller vibe and wonderfully frenetic action scenes, The Winter Soldier went from “oh yeah that Captain America sequel is coming out” to “this might just be the best thing to come from Marvel.”
It’s because The Winter Soldier gave you a little bit more than the lackluster plots and passable action scenes that superhero movies unfortunately get away with these days. Ant-Man carried a generic superhero origin story with equally generic characters, and it was a smashing success because audiences are satisfied with basic stories that they’re used to with some cool big budget action. The assembly line that Marvel has constructed keeps no movies from being bad, but few from being really great.
Filmmakers like Joss Whedon and James Gunn were able to break out as much as they could with the Avengers movies and Guardians of the Galaxy respectively, but neither comes close to how subtlety the brotherly directing duo of Joe and Anthony Russo and the writing duo of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely break the Marvel mold with The Winter Soldier and, now, Civil War.
Could you imagine if every Marvel movie had the “knock you on your ass” action and the thrilling stories that these two movies had? Actually, in that seemingly wonderful world, audiences probably wouldn’t complain so much that superheroes kill too many innocent people. So, in that unfortunate world, this movie wouldn’t exist. And that would be a tragedy.
Ever since the Man of Steel saved the day by slamming Zod into a few million people back in 2013, audiences have not stopped talking about how superheroes consistently kill an abundance of innocent people without a care in the world. DC addressed this issue with Batman v Superman a couple of months ago, and now it’s Marvel’s turn.
When Cap and his team of heroes “save the day” by taking out one bad guy at the cost of a slew of innocent lives, the nations of the world unite together to form the Sokovia Accords, named after the location that the Avengers largely and literally blew to hell during the finale of Age of Ultron. Upon signature, the superhero can not do any superheroing until the government deems their abilities necessary. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is game. So are fellow Avengers Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle).
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) believes that casualties are an unfortunate part of the job, and it’s best to continue fighting for the greater good. Plus, after seeing what Hydra was able to do to an organization like SHIELD, the Star-Spangled Man isn’t too keen on working under another government. With Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) still making noise, Cap refuses to stop, leaving Tony and friends to take action.
Yes, Captain America absolutely gets sidelined in his own movie. This is the third Avengers movie. There’s no doubt about that. Bucky plays a huge role and I’m sure Cap gets the most screen time if you add it up, but this is not Cap’s movie. It’s everyone’s. It’s a bummer that we didn’t get another standalone Captain America movie, but the material here is too strong for me to complain too much.
The fact that the writers were able to make a balanced movie with this absurd amount of superheroes – two of those are the first appearances of franchise carriers Black Panther and Spider-Man – is truly a miracle. The story never felt too overstuffed or lost underneath the clashing personalities.
The only element of the story that really fell between the cracks was the villain. His lame motivations aren’t revealed until the third act, and at that point there was so much else happening that I truly didn’t care. Another pathetic villain from Marvel…
..that at least has two dynamite franchises on its hands. Both Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man are straight fire. There’s no better way of putting it.
Boseman is a badass as Black Panther. Not only does the character have a really interesting backstory, but Boseman grounds the character in a way that makes the protector of Wakanda a really personable dude. Boseman has a cool character on his hands, and I’m dying to see him go off on his own adventure in Ryan Coogler’s upcoming film.
And to prepare you for all the people who will say Holland is the best Spider-Man, he really is great. Holland brings a much-needed levity to this movie when he comes in, and, even though the character doesn’t have much to do besides crack some jokes and kick some ass, this is a perfect set up for the 19-year-old’s franchise.
Captain America: Civil War may add fuel to the fire of “let’s jam as many characters into one movie,” “let’s have our heroes fight,” and “let’s make movies play the part of franchise starter,” but wow do I not care at all. This is an awesome movie. There’s plenty of slam-bang action to make fanboys explode with joy, and the writer’s back it up with a coherent plot. The villain sucks and Cap doesn’t get the attention he deserves from his own movie, but this is truly one of Marvel’s finest and an instant superhero classic. With the Russos and the writers replacing Whedon on Avengers movie duties, Marvel – and, more importantly, us – have a bright future ahead.