Arguably the main event of the superhero film-fest that is 2016, Captain America: Civil War has been an event long gestating. Long tensions between these characters and their impact on the world have been building on these heroes and Civil War is the result and explosion of some of these events. The invasion of New York, the infiltration of shield, and some more key happenings that are seeded around the MCU. While this movie is undoubtedly a response to Batman v Superman, and while I still contend I greatly enjoyed Batman v Superman, not only is this the best Marvel movie ever made, but I would also add it’s the best superhero movie since 2008’s The Dark Knight. Marvel has made their 5-star, Civil War is brimming with some of the best action I’ve ever seen, an excellent character study amongst the heroes, and further propels the Marvel universe into new and meaningful territory. This one is for the books.
But maybe not the comic books. Civil War is loosely based on the comic event of the same name from Mark Miller in which the heroes of Marvel clash because of a law that has the government have some reprimand of the Avengers. That’s about as far as the similarities go, if fans are looking for a dedicated adaptation I would say you need to turn your head elsewhere. Civil War works within the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it will not cater to the comic it delves from, which I’m perfectly fine with because this works beautifully on its own. I entered the movie favoring Team Cap more, but throughout the endeavor I sympathized with Iron Man and his reasoning. It skews your perspective because both characters are right, both are wrong, both or justified.
While it’s absolutely a sequel to Winter Soldier and a Captain America movie at heart, Robert Downey Jr. gives the best performance of his MCU career thus far. In the past, I’ve had disdain for the character Tony Stark. He’s a narcissist, cocky, destructive, and an impulsive person in past affairs, but you can tell that he’s grown this time around; he has an agenda, he cares for his allies, he has an amazing dynamic with Peter Parker. The emotion that Downey filled in this role sideswiped me, because he gives the best performance in the movie as a man with conviction, which is also something I haven’t really felt since The Dark Knight and its ensemble cast.
Downey aside, there is plenty of love for the other characters. Spider-Man is introduced in probably the best way imaginable. Three renditions of the character in and Marvel nailed it in their first outing. The first two Sam Raimi movie are excellent and some of The Amazing Spider-Man has promising elements, but neither nail the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Not only in Civil War do we get the perfect Peter, but we get a spectacular Spider-Man who steals scenes, has superb banter with the other heroes, and will give you a wide grin for every moment in which you see him on screen, he is a highlight of the movie.
Another newcomer is the electric Black Panther, who has a pretty distinct reason for being in the movie, which I can’t really reveal without spoiling anything so I won’t. Black Panther has conviction in him as well but where Cap and Iron Man are fueled and amplified by other methods, Black Panther is wise, he comes with reason whereas the other characters don’t tread to reason. Finally I need to give a particular mention to Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. Something tells me that either the writers are some of the best character writers in the business or that the Russo brothers (directors) just told Paul Rudd to act like Paul Rudd, I lean toward the second. His dialogue is fantastic and he has a show-stealing scene or two even though he isn’t in the movie for too long.
The Russo brothers deserve praise because this movie is beautifully directed. I would give it the accolade that it’s the Mad Max Fury Road of comic book movies, because the action is so well done, so unique. A particular moment involving a motorcycle had the audience and myself in complete awe. The airport fight is filmed exceptionally well containing the constant action of 12 characters all with unique abilities can be a difficult thing, but the Russos capture this action so well that it will have to be a hell of a scene to trump the airport fight and the next time I may see something that good will likely be when they direct The Avengers: Infinity War. But it’s not just the spectacle moments that are great, it’s the personal moments like Cap and Bucky against a swat team. Every action scene in this movie looks and feels incredible aside some shakey camera usually associated with Black Widow.
I haven’t mentioned many characters like Vision, Scarlet Which, Hawkeye, and so on, but rest assured they all have important moments. Something I loved in particular is that we don’t really hear code names like Iron Man or Hawkeye, we hear people’s names like Tony and Clint. How the characters interact on a personal level is wonderful and adds a dimension of personality to this movie, because it’s not about Captain America taking on the world, it’s about a man named Steve and him looking out for his best friend Bucky.
This review could very well span another seven paragraphs but for the rest of the film I was in love with nearly every element. The score was grandiose by the very talented Henry Jackman. His themes boasted some of the best moments and really upped the tension between the heroes. There is somewhat of a villain that acts in the background known as Helmut Zemo (from the comics) and he has a good purpose but really isn’t a huge focus of the film until the end. He really pulls the strings but I did like him for the most part. Civil War is also a little on the longer side but there weren’t really any scenes I would cut from the movie, every part had a meaningful purpose. It’s not often we find ourselves with a layered movie like this, let alone a superhero movie. Captain America: Civil War is the best movie I’ve seen this year along with 10 Cloverfield Lane, it moves the Marvel Universe forward and is just a damn treat to watch, something I will absolutely see again this coming weekend. Marvel has its magnum opus.