Captain America: Civil War, directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, is everything a superhero movie should be. From an overwhelming display of superhuman abilities, to the maniacal acts of a villain hell-bent on revenge, this latest Marvel tale is a staple in it’s ever-expanding cinematic universe.
Although it’s got Cap’s name on it, Captain America: Civil War can’t help but come off as an Avengers story, complete with enough heroes to fill a small school bus. Asgard’s Thor and Bruce Banner’s Hulk are noticeably absent, but there are a few fresh faces that are welcome fill-ins, including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and the newest (and youngest) portrayal of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to date. In short, the gang’s all here in Captain America: Civil War.
The film begins approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in Sokovia, the nation that was ripped from the Earth and lifted toward the heavens by the hands of the adamantium-wielding supervillian. Back at headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) informs the team that the United Nations is planning to pass the Sokovia Accords, a set of laws that will ultimately create a governing body to oversee and control The Avengers team. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), feeling responsible for Ultron and his subsequent destruction of Sokovia, supports oversight, while Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) firmly believes his own judgment is and always will be better than that of the government. But if our heroes can’t accept limitations, are they any better than the bad guys? It’s questions like these that create such a strong divide, and it forces the rest of The Avengers to choose sides.
And through it all, the audience is forced to do the same. Because what makes this conflict so compelling is the fact that both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers believe they are making the right decision. There is truth to both arguments, and the difference between right and wrong is not so black and white. Unlike the conflict offered in DC Comics’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the conflict in Marvel’s Civil War simply holds more weight. The Sokovia Accords light the fuse that ignites the civil war Marvel fans want to see, and although the audience knows in part what’s coming, it’s exhilarating to watch the brewing conflict unfold.
What Marvel gives us with Captain America: Civil War is a fight-filled two hours and 26 minutes that’s far from a fiasco. With four major (and I mean major) fight scenes that showcase the long and beautiful strides cinema has taken in terms of computer-generated imagery, it’s hard not to wonder how a film like this is accomplished. If the credits are any indication, it takes a HUGE team. The airport battle, for instance, is an unbelievable sequence in which all the heroes engage with one another. Some creative genius results in countless great moments, including Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) firing Ant-Man into Iron Man’s suit and Spider-Man getting tangled with Falcon (Anthony Mackie) mid-flight. There was some strong build-up for this battle, and when it’s over you’ll feel far from cheated. But if a one-on-one battle between Iron Man and Captain America is what you want, rest assured: you’ll get it.
Sprinkled appropriately throughout these epic clashes are some humorous moments that provide great comic relief. When Ant-Man arrives, for example, he initiates an awkward and lengthy handshake with Captain America while saying “Look, I wanna say, I know you know a lot of super-people, so… thanks for thinking of me.” Later on during Tony Stark’s recruitment of Spider-Man, the young Peter Parker tells Stark he can’t help the team in Germany because he has homework. All of the heroes are imperfect in their own way, and their interactions are a comic adventure all their own.
What’s so impressive about this latest Marvel installment is its ability to tell a busy story with many important players in an organized way. In addition to furthering the character arcs of heroes we’ve already seen, Civil War also manages to introduce us to two new ones. The composed Black Panther was a great contrast to the boisterous personas audiences are used to, and Tom Holland’s geeky Spider-Man was given just enough screen time to leave me satisfied and wanting more at the same time. (The “Spider-Man Will Return” text that appeared after a post-credits scene also helped.)
Ultimately, the extensions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are complicated and far-reaching, but this film makes it all easy to digest. Captain America: Civil War is a wild ride that words just can’t do justice for, so it’s going to take a ticket and a big screen to see whether the Avengers stand united or divide and fall.