Captain America: Civil War is the best comic book adaptation ever made. Understand that this is not a light statement, in 2004 Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 was the best adaptation, it would hold that title until 2012 when Joss Whedon’s Avengers would usher in a new era of superhero dominance and much like Raimi’s work, completely change how we look at the genre. Civil War is the next logical step in the evolution of superhero films, the first wave of Marvel films (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk) showed us people with amazing powers doing amazing things, the second wave showed us what happened when these amazing people were brought together and now at the beginning of the third wave we see what happens when it all falls apart.
Okay so background, after the events of Age of Ultron people are getting sick of The Avengers; to think of it in real terms the past eight years in the Marvel-verse have seen men in metal suits battle it out multiple times leading to mass property destruction, public endangerment and at one point (Iron Man 3) the President of the United States was held hostage by a terrorist. A giant green monster smashed the absolute fuck out of an entire city, and a number of expensive tanks and vehicles. An ancient Norse god caused some pretty serious collateral damage to a small US town and a decent sized portion of London and in Washington DC three state of the art flying helicarrier war machines were destroyed…Oh also New York was invaded by an alien army and a robotic James Spader tuned an eastern European city into a meteor and tried to smash it into the Earth.
So yeah, after all that the average citizens of Earth-616 are understandably sick of super powered people laying waste to the world around them. The United Nations decides to step in and say “Hey how about some regulation” and some heroes say “Yeah, okay” and others say “Yeah, nah”. Kaboom! Heroes on both sides battling it out in a fight to determine the right course of action regarding the future of superhero existence. It’s somewhat ironic that in premise this film shares huge amounts in common with last month’s Batman V Superman and next to nothing in actual execution.
Aye, aye Captain!
This is still very much a Captain America film (as opposed to Avengers 2.5), the relationships between Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, Sam Wilson and James Buchanan Barnes are at the forefront regarding character development. Tony Stark features, but at this point his overall character arc is done and dusted, there’s still some interesting aspects covered but in general it’s the same Stark as always. The bond between Cap and Buck continues to the drive the story much like the latter half of The Winter Soldier, Falcon gets a little extra coverage and Black Widow continues her role as the pragmatist of the group, simultaneously being everyone’s sort of, but not really, love interest. Thankfully; Elizabeth Olsen gets a little more time to shine as The Scarlet Witch, her introduction in Age of Ultron was a little rushed, but thankfully this time around we get to see some decent development of her character and the beginning of her relationship with The Vision.
There’s a brilliant scene in Kevin Smith’s Clerks, in which main characters Dante and Randall discuss Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Dante argues that Empire is the better film because of the down note ending, while Randall theorises about the collateral damage of the Death Star’s destruction and the consequences of intergalactic civil war. I bring this up because Civil War covers both of these bases, there’s some genuinely shocking moments in this film and at the end of it all we’re confronted with the very real consequences of the actions we’ve spent the last eight years watching. The lack of genuine consequence has long been a major criticism of the superhero genre so it’s nice to see a film actually acknowledge the costs associated with the hero business.
Whatever floats your BLOAT
If there’s one worthwhile criticism of the film it’s the bloated super roster; in addition to two new debuting heroes, a new major villain and a brief cameo by an altered sub-villain from The Winter Soldier, every hero in the Marvel-verse not named Hulk or Thor is present in this film. That’s a lot of people to divide the screen between; at times characters can seem a little underused, although luckily the new additions get the most coverage while the more established players get pushed to the back a little. In accordance with the engorged roster, the film itself has quite a lot going on; between political subplots, character development, action sequences and introductions the film can at times feel a little jumpy. Still this could’ve been a colossal fuck up and the best part is; it isn’t!
Does whatever a spider can!
Okay the part people really want to know; yes Spider-Man is finally here! It’s been a long fourteen years since big budget Spider-Man films first started getting released and now Spider-Man is actually behaving like Spider-Man. His appearance, albeit brief is longer than I expected going into the film. It sets him up nicely for next year’s Spider-man: Homecoming. The suit is easily the best looking Spidey ever put to screen, the web effects look fantastic and in general the performance captures everything about the comic book Spider-Man, a feat that so far has been an upward struggle for all involved.
Batma…I mean Black Panther
The other debuting hero in the film is Black Panther, played by the outstanding Chadwick Boseman (42, Draft Day). This is a big moment in film, not just comic film but film in general; a black superhero. Actually let’s add to that; a black superhero from Africa. Marvel’s had black heroes before; Sam Wilson (The Falcon), James Rhodes (War Machine), but Black Panther opens up an entirely new chapter in Marvel’s book. Finally fans get to see a globalised Marvel where heroes exist outside the very US-centric setup that the genre has relied on so far. Boseman’s performance as T’Challa is absolutely perfect; encompassing a character that showcases an incredible amount of depth given the limited screen time afforded to him. The costume design for the Panther is outstanding, so too is the range of emotion and character motivation on display, I might even be inclined to say that Boseman’s Black Panther is the breakout star of the film.
Go see this film, no really just go and see it. There’s only so much I can say without giving it all away, but if you’re after an entertaining action film with slightly more depth than the genre is typically known for; this film will satisfy you in ways you ex-husband never could! Go see it, go see it now. Have you seen it yet?
After Credits Bonus!
Time for a mini-rant: People who don’t like these sort of films, yet strangely seem to have the need to go and see them are annoying. Every time one of these films comes out I’m bombarded with “Hurr durr, this genre does nothing for me I’m sick of it, it’s stupid, and why can’t they make different types of movies”, you know something? I sat through two decades of bullshit Fast & The Furious, Rom-com’s and shitty comedy movies that weren’t actually funny. This is my turn, you people got 50+ years of being the target audience for major productions, it’s about time someone else got a chance to see the stories they want to see and if you hate super movies so much then just go watch 10 Thing I Hate About You for the hundredth time, while you cry into your Ben & Jerry’s. You make me want to throw up.