In the Civil War, viewers win
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Usually, a film has only one or two standouts, or things that really “stand out” as being awesome. “Pirates of the Carribbean” has Jack Sparrow, “The Jungle Book” has Baloo (I mean, seriously, he’s a laid-back bear bum who sings about being chill, how is that not a standout?), “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” has Darth Maul 1v2-ing a famous Jedi master and his padawan (and basically nothing else good in the whole movie, aside from some Darth Sidious political manipulation).
In the case of “Captain America: Civil War,” though, the film is so uncompromisingly superb that almost everything is a standout.
Spider-Man? Awesome and hilarious. New hero Black Panther? Homie goes friggin’ hardcore. The villain? A refreshingly good change from usually-forgettable Marvel villains. Captain America himself? Yep, he’s still awesome. Iron Man? He’s six movies in and still getting good character development. Ant Man? Ye boi. The action? Completely and totally phenomenal.
In the film, a new system of laws known as the Sokovia Accords is passed that attempt to force the Avengers to work for the government. While some of the heroes, led by Iron Man, support the Accords, others, led by Captain America, oppose them. This leads to a superhero “civil war,” with the two teams of heroes facing off.
The film includes almost all of Marvel’s superheroes from the movies. Heroes that have been on the screen for years now, such as Iron Man, War Machine, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Falcon, are joined by newer heroes from the last year or so in Ant Man, Scarlet Witch and The Vision. One of the cooler aspects of the movie is that it introduces two new heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, and Tom Holland’s fantastic new version of Spider-Man.
With all these heroes in one film, it may seem like the movie may suffer from some form of superhero overload. This is simply not the case. The film juggles its characters well enough that the viewer isn’t left floating in a turbulent ocean of comic book goodness and is instead able to connect to each character individually. The new heroes, in particular, are given incredible introductions into the shared movie universe, and the new Spider-Man is the best version of the character to ever grace a live-action movie screen.
The two leaders of the super-teams certainly don’t get overshadowed by the newcomers, though. Captain America’s “freedom first” attitude guides the actions of the entire movie, while Iron Man gets arguably the best character development we’ve seen from him since 2008’s original “Iron Man.”
This incredible roster of over 12 heroes serves as the basis for some of the best action I’ve seen in any movie ever. The heroes have a diverse variety of powers — from shrinking to telekinesis to spider-ing to a whole lot of martial arts skills — and the clash of these powers results in one of the most entertaining battles I’ve ever seen.
In DC’s recent film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” another film based on superheroes fighting each other (and a blatantly obvious attempt to set up a Justice League movie or movies), one of the biggest flaws of the film was that the two sides, Batman and Superman, didn’t really have much of a reason to actually fight each other (what it came down to was Batman not liking Superman even though he had a track record of saving human lives on multiple occasions). Indeed, the whole “Batman v Superman” title is incredibly misleading, as the fight between the two doesn’t even play much of a role in the film, to the extent that the plot would still be almost the same without the fight. A reasonable question, then would be: Does “Civil War” set up and execute the whole “heroes vs. heroes” aspect better than BvS?
It absolutely does.
The plot and themes of “Civil War” are well thought-out and beautifully executed. The whole first act of the movie is devoted to setting up this conflict, which feels organic, realistic and not forced like it was in BvS. The plot is simple enough to be followed and yet complex enough to be interesting (a common theme with most Marvel films), and the film even refuses to take sides on the conflict, letting the viewer decide who is right (another thing BvS got wrong with its “let’s shove Superman’s moral correctness down everyone’s throats” attitude). All of these elements generate genuine tension, which is a true sign of a good movie (as tension only happens when viewers genuinely care about the characters, which doesn’t usually happen in bad movies).
All in all, “Captain America: Civil War” is a fantastic film with superb … everything, really. It may be cliché to say it at this point, but Marvel has truly done it again.