“And there came a day, a day unlike any other…” and it has finally arrived – the day that fanboys and fangirls have been dreaming about for decades. Spider-Man is now officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and interacting with nearly all of its heroes in his uniquely spectacular and amazing way. And it is AWESOME!
I read an article on Wired.com recently that claimed we may have reached “peak geek” when it comes to “the public fascination with superhero movies.” I disagree completely and to back up my argument I’d like to introduce Captain America: Civil War into evidence, a film that tops them all and raises the entertainment bar again in terms of high quality and unadulterated escapism.
This, the third Captain America movie, is more of an Avengers flick than a solo Cap film, but I don’t think anyone will care. The film is packed with so much incredible action that no one is going to take issue with the fact that Steve Rogers doesn’t necessarily get the brightest spotlight in his own movie (although he does have his moments.)
I’m going to try to make my comments here as spoiler-free as possible and they shouldn’t hurt anyone who has seen the trailers for the Civil War film; but if you’d rather be spared the details and simply want a thumps up or down, consider mine way up. The Marvel Studios movies just keep getting better and better.
With the exception of Thor and Hulk the Avengers (plus many others heroes, old and new) are all back for this film and the ensemble cast is incredible. It still boggles my brain that Marvel (and specifically in this case, directors Anthony and Joe Russo) have so successfully and repeatedly brought all of these actors/characters together, presented their stories in a cohesive and ultra-entertaining manner; and still leaving the audience clamoring for more.
The Civil War story-line has the United Nations interfering in the Avengers’ world saving adventures and wanting to control their exploits in the name of preventing collateral damage and casualties, but this causes a serious rift between our heroes.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Vision (Paul Bettany) all stand behind the so-called “Sokovia Accords” that will govern the actions of super-types; but Captain America (Chris Evans) is dead set against the plan and sees how the oversight will turn the heroes into tools of the government.
Throw some Captain America: Winter Soldier styled intrigue into the mix, together with the first appearances of Spidey (Tom Holland), the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and another big name, and you’ve got the coolest knock-down-drag-out superhero film ever made. It really is THAT good!
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the same team who penned the other Cap films) bring both Spider-Man and Black Panther into the story in a logical and meaningful way that makes the introduction of Aquaman and Cyborg in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice look like it was written by a monkey.
Civil War also includes [deep breath] Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Falcon (Anthony Mackie) War Machine (Don Cheadle), Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), Peggy Carter (Emily VanCamp), the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the sexiest Aunt May ever (Marisa Tomei); but there is one surprise character above all that steals this show and made me so giddy I still haven’t recovered.
On the downside, and this is very minor complaint, the story begins on a serious note and continues in a somber manner for the first couple of acts, almost completely devoid of humor – a rarity for a Marvel film and one of the biggest problems with the DC super-films. But with the introduction of Spidey the narrative take a turn and we feel like we’re once again watching a film in the mighty Marvel manner.
Another problem I have – and this is a big one that has to do with the marketing of the movie and not the film itself – is that before the movie started the theatre showed a car commercial that incorporated an extended action sequence from the movie. This made me angrier than the Hulk having his chili-beans bogarted. I get that in the end, for the studios, it’s all about making money; but for the love of Grodd try to have some artistic integrity and don’t spoil your film just before you show it.
It’s hard to believe that in 2006 – 2007, when comic-book writer Mark Millar and illustrator Steven McNiven created the “Civil War” storyline, the original Iron Man (2008) film was just a hopeful fantasy. No one could have predicted that after eight years and thirteen films the Marvel movies and their ever-expanding universe would be so finely crafted and the envy of film studios everywhere. I certainly never thought that I’d see it in my lifetime.
Each of the Marvel films has been wonderful in its own way, but Captain America: Civil War is probably my favorite so far. If you are a fan of the comics I don’t think you can ask for much better than this. It pays tribute to the classics that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Steve Ditko and others created, but it is still as fresh as this evening’s newscast.
There are many nods to the comic-book source material, some of them very subtle, that fans well-versed in the Marvel mythos will appreciate more than others; but I can’t imagine anyone – new fan or old – NOT enjoying the heck out of this movie. Grade: 9.5/10
Photos © 2016 Marvel Studios