Perhaps the biggest flaw in blockbuster films, especially the superhero variety, is that they rarely account for all of the carnage, death and destruction left behind by all of the fight sequences and explosions audiences come to expect from these big-budget cinematic cash cows.
“Captain America: Civil War” refuses to shy away from the consequences of war, making it the centerpiece of the entire 2.5 hour movie and using it to drive the film’s central conflict.
There’s still all of the computer-generated mega powers, hand-to-hand fisticuffs and balls of flame one comes to expect in a film from Marvel Studios, but it leaves audiences wondering at what cost can these actions be justified.
A quick primer:
Following the basic outline of the iconic comic book storyline of the same name, “Civil War” finds Iron Man and Captain America on opposing sides of the law after the United Nations establishes the Sokovia Accords to regulate the actions of superheroes. Captain America and a group of other heroes refuse to sign the accords, while Iron Man builds a separate coalition to sign the treaty. That coalition is then tasked with tracking down Team Captain America and arresting them for operating outside the law.
First time viewers hoping to jump right into Marvel movies with “Civil War” will probably be considerably lost. The film pretty much insists on audiences having prior knowledge on most of the characters’ origin stories and relationships built up over the 12 prior entries into the franchise known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
In fact, for moviegoers to really enjoy “Captain America: Civil War,” it’s almost absolutely necessary that they have already seen half of the MCU – “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” – before stepping foot in a theater for Civil War.
If you’ve been religiously keeping up with superhero movies since the release of “Iron Man” in 2008, you should be good to go. Otherwise, you’ll probably wind up a little bit lost for a large chunk of the film.
Make no mistake. “Captain America: Civil War” will probably be the blockbuster of the year. It’s undoubtedly the best film out of all 13 MCU films and better than probably every other Hollywood box office smash still to come in 2016.
Most of the heroes established in the MCU are back for Civil War, led by Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as the titular Captain America. Downey does yeoman’s work in taking a relative backseat in “Civil War,” though he’s still as good in the role as he’s ever been.
Evans, meanwhile, proves more than capable of picking up the slack, anchoring the film with a stoic reliability. His ability to emote Captain America’s “do the right thing even when it’s the unpopular thing” mentality is sensational here.
Regular Avengers Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) sit this film out as they are off waging war across the galaxy in 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”
In their stead, Tom Holland and Chadwick Boseman are given ample ability to establish new characters to the MCU as Spiderman and Black Panther, respectively. While Boseman does everything needed of him with a relatively obscure comic book hero, Holland proves to be an exceptional choice to take over as Marvel’s resident wall-crawler.
Two older actors (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) have already taken up the cloth as Peter Parker, but neither fits the bill as perfectly as Holland, whose youthful look, effortless naivety and mastering of verbal repartee make him the best Spiderman in cinema history in spite of having around 30 minutes of screen time. Holland is a star in the making and the upcoming “Spiderman: Homecoming” solo film should solidify that standing.
“Captain America: Civil War” also delivers on the visual wonders audiences have come to expect from Marvel Studios with a terrific 10-minute action sequence in an abandoned airport and all fights including Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man being standout moments. Marvel has taken the innovative looks filmmakers were able to establish with the shrinking superhero in “Ant-Man” and expand on them in colossal ways with “Civil War.”
The airport battle should also go down as one of the five best action sequences in a superhero movie of all time, rivalling the final battle sequence against the invading Chitauri aliens in “The Avengers.”
Fans of comic books and/or the Marvel Cinematic Universe will absolutely love every second of this thrill ride. It’s funny, thought provoking, engaging, well-crafted storytelling that doesn’t come easily found at the movies.
Those who haven’t kept up with superhero films might want to make an effort to play catch up. This is a superhero movie that needs to be seen on the big screen. “Captain America: Civil War” is worth the price of admission and more, probably several times over again.