Let's go back in time to 2008, when a low-level superhero named Iron Man graced the big-screen launch of what would become one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Marvel's Cinematic Universe has become an undeniable celluloid juggernaut that has launched, developed and possibly even saved the careers of its stars.
For nearly a decade, Marvel has brought the world incredible entertainment and created a formula that every other studio wishes it had (watch out for the sleeping giant that is DC. It's coming). No doubt the MCU has had its ups and downs, but it has maintained a high level of interest from fans and moviegoers alike. Not every film has been a huge hit, but the hits have been nothing short of home runs.
It's 2016 and Captain America: Civil War has arrived. We've done it, everybody. We waited and waited and it's finally here for us to soak in. This has been the year of the "versus" storylines. We've had Daredevil fight Punisher, we've seen Batman vs. Superman, and now we finally have a Civil War. Never before have we seen so much conflict just in the titles of superhero flicks alone. This has been one of the most successful years for superhero movies ever, maybe even movies in general, and we're only in May.
Now let's consider all the hype behind this film, as well as the brilliant marketing (#teamCap or #teamIronMan?). Early reviews have been coming in a flood of positivity and it's got people wondering: Could this be Marvel's best film to date? Could it even be the greatest comic book movie ever made? Well good news is I'm here to give you an objective look at one of my favorite new films. So let's dig into it!
Does Civil War Take The Cake As Marvel's Best?
Well, it just might. This film really brings it. Not since The Avengers has any Marvel movie brought me such joy as a moviegoer. I can't even begin to tell you how many great bits this movie had. I will admit that I was very critical of the trailers. While I knew the conflict was going to be heavy, I wasn't expecting to be so invested in what was happening. The trailers did not sell me on the stakes of the situation and I expected the film to play out more like a scrimmage than a real fight. But boy was I wrong — because this is still technically a Captain America movie. Along with sharing the same directors as The Winter Soldier (the Russo bros), Civil War shares a very similar tone. Not dark, but definitely more serious than the average Marvel film, which works to benefit a story dealing with this content.
#TeamCap Or #TeamIronMan?
One thing this film does a very good job of is not showing favor to a particular character. Each hero's motivation is very clear and you can actually empathize with both sides. Tony Stark is not in a good place at this point. He is alone, struggling with the guilt of his actions causing so much destruction in the past. In a sense he wants (and personally needs) an authority at which to aim the weapon that he has become.
This is where the Sokovia Accords factor in. The pact basically made the Avengers answerable to the United Nations before taking action in any situation. Tony feels that this is the best option and safest for civilians. Steve Rogers does not feel the same way. In one bit of dialogue, he says, "The safest hands are still our own." He also explains how governments have agendas and that submitting to men in power is a slippery slope.
He refuses to sign the Accords, which forces him into early retirement. Not much later an incident occurs that causes Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) to be a wanted man. Rogers, feeling a sense of obligation to his best friend, springs into action in order to help him, and then the real conflict arises.
Going into the film, everybody will have their loyalty to their favorite character, but I kid you not, there will be scenes that will make you question what you think you believe. It's a movie that challenges the audience to ask themselves what they would do, given the circumstances.
Was The Parking Lot Scene Really All That?
Yes!!! It's funny because before I saw Civil War I listened to and read a lot of reviews, and the airport action sequence kept cropping up. Everybody had just been raving about it, and I didn't really believe it could be that incredible. Well let me tell you, folks — it is absolutely fantastic. No doubt it is one of the most exciting and satisfying action sequences I've ever seen in any movie. It is truly an achievement. The fight choreography mixed in with special effects mixed in with banter as well as people who are truly dedicated to their convictions make for one of the great action set pieces in cinema. Just when you think something cool just happened, you're blown away with another surprise. It is really great, I can't say enough good things about it.
What About Black Panther?
Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther is possibly my favorite thing about the movie. He is vigilant and relentless. Not only that but he is as skilled or even more so than any one of the Avengers. He is a true force to be reckoned with in this film and I got excited every time he came on screen. He's more of a supporting character, but his scenes made enough impact for me to be extremely excited for his future solo outing. You will be very pleased when you see him in the movie, I promise you that.
I... Want... Spider-Man!
As I read early reviews, everybody had been raving about Tom Holland's brief showing as our new Spider-Man, with many saying he's the best ever on film. Well, I won't go that far, but this is mainly because he just wasn't in the movie for very long. As he is first introduced, what I really appreciated about Holland's performance is that Peter Parker has a great big heart and is just a high-school-aged kid from Queens who can't even drive yet is trying to do the right thing. We all know the origin, and thank God too much time is not spent on it.
One thing that is unfortunate about the character is that if you took him completely out of the movie, the story would not be affected in the slightest, apart from a few fun scenes. Not that there's anything wrong with him being in the movie, but in my opinion it's not very difficult to see that he was only in it because Marvel wanted to flex its chops by knocking another character out of the park. Holland has a very bright future in this cinematic universe and he will be a great Spidey for years to come.
Alright, So How About The Negatives. It Can't Be Perfect, Right?
Now this is where I'm going to really roast Marvel for a bit. Once again, it displays a complete lack of skill in using villains in movies. Poor Frank Grillo continues to be one of the most underutilized actors in Hollywood. For me, Crossbones was one of the biggest disappointments of the movie. Here is a major villain and Marvel just screws the pooch with him. I threw my hands up in the theater thinking, "Why Marvel, just why?!"
There is a second villain who hasn't had a lot of screen time in the trailers, so I will neither name nor show him, but I will say he is also wasted. For now, at least. He doesn't do much but put things into motion, much like Lex Luthor did in Dawn of Justice. Fortunately, there is room for him to continue to be a thorn in the side of our heroes, but who really knows? Marvel is just straight up weak with its villains and it infuriates me sometimes, especially considering the fact that Thanos is right around the corner and will more than likely get the same treatment, only spread over a couple movies. I can't get excited for Marvel villains anymore because time and time again they continue to mean next to nothing in the universe, even with the rich history that they have within the comics.
Captain America: Civil War truly has put itself at the top tier of comic book films of all time. It is loads of fun, but not without consequence, which is something that I appreciate. This film is a game changer for the MCU as it's the first time we've seen our heroes be held (somewhat) accountable for the havoc they've caused. They might be heroes, but they often cause as much trouble as they neutralize.
While Civil War is not without its flaws, it could just be Marvel's best film to date. I know this will be debated until the next film comes out, but there is no doubt in my mind that it deserves to be in the conversation. Is it the greatest comic book movie of all time? No, and I stand by that. But it strives to be, and I appreciate the work the studio put into this. This is a challenging film that pulls you from one side to the other and make you hate yourself for rooting against a character you've grown up with, but it is nonetheless great and only adds to an incredible experience, which shows us sometimes our most dangerous enemies are the friends fighting by our side.