With so many superhero movies having flooded the box office in the past decade or so – with many more to come through 2020 – it’s become increasingly more important for filmmakers to break the mold and take calculated risks, lest the genre become stale and possibly implode. Despite playing it safe in some respects (a narrated letter near the end of the film pretty much undoes all the conflict that preceded it), Captain America: Civil War makes some significant strides when it came to charting new territory for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Much of this can be attributed to co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who have become the gold standard when it comes to creating great Marvel films, at least in my view. Between Civil War and its forbearer, The Winter Soldier, the Russos have cracked the formula when it comes to crafting a taut political thriller with the elements that made the first Avengers flick so much fun. In other words, it has an emotional resonance and real world believability without shying away from fantastical comic book elements. Well, except for the villain, which I’ll touch on later.
Many fans, myself included, have long criticized Marvel Studios for not showing the collateral damage of what occurs mostly in the third act of their films. For the longest time, it looked like this premier team of superheroes managed to save New York without a single casualty in 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. I’m well aware that it sounds silly, but people didn’t talk about the events of that movie in the way they did Man of Steel one year later. A keen-eyed viewer, however, would have noticed the same level of destruction took place in both, only Joss Whedon would pan the camera when a building began to topple as opposed to Zack Snyder, who would follow its full descent to the ground.
Please don’t misinterpret the above statement thinking I’m asking for full-on “destruction porn.” No. I’m just asking for filmmakers to show that actions have consequences. And Civil War delivers in spades in that regard.
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Loosely based on the highly acclaimed comic book story arc it shares its name with, Civil War sees several Avengers become responsible for a generous amount of civilian deaths, albeit unintentionally. Long story short, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) thinks superheroes need to sign an accord that guarantees executive oversight, while Captain America (Chris Evans) thinks they deserve free rein after having seen regimes and times change. Everyone else picks a side and we have ourselves a movie.
Throughout the course of a viewing experience that will make you question whom you would side with, expect some top notch fight choreography and stunts. The crew of this film certainly raise the bar in the genre when it comes to action sequences, especially ones that require teamwork. At this point, I probably don’t need to tell you how jaw-dropping the airport scene is.
If any hero deserves to be mentioned aside from Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, it’s that of Black Panther, who nearly stole the show. I think introducing him to the masses in a film such as this was a smart move because I, for one, can assure that I will pay money to see his solo film in 2018. Chadwick Boseman portrays T’Challa with such wisdom and manages to maintain a regal air about himself while being an undeniable bad ass. This may seem like a bold statement, but Black Panther may very well be Marvel’s next big thing on the silver screen.
Another hero whose appearance got many people talking was Spider-Man’s. I’m not going to make an extreme statement like others did saying Tom Holland was the best wallcrawler ever, but he certainly does an outstanding job. I just feel as though I need to see him in a full length feature before I can rank him among the rest.
Now, some may call me crazy, but you could have removed him from this movie and the plot wouldn’t have been affected in the slightest. In all honesty, he wasn’t even close to being the vital cog he was in the comic book. It was pretty obvious he was shoehorned in after Disney and Sony made a landmark deal to share him onscreen. All that aside, it was pretty awesome to finally see Spidey rightfully take his place alongside the Avengers. It’s just too bad Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine will never be able to join the party.
As much as that sounds like a criticism, it really in’t. My only real complaint with the film comes in the form of Marvel continuing its proud history of underwhelming villains, as Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) is no exception. Sure, Bruhl delivers a fine performance and his motivation is more than believable, but he functions as little more than a plot device to get the heroes to fight each other.
I can’t imagine that I’m alone in wanting to see supervillains have the same level of flamboyance the good guys do. Would it really have been so hard to develop a grounded take on Zemo’s established purple costume for the big screen? I highly doubt it. Instead, we’re left with a third-rate Bond villain who didn’t even come close to having the impact that Robert Redford did as Alexander Pierce in The Winter Soldier. Needless to say, the Captain America franchise is in dire need of a Red Skull return.
When it comes to the Blu-ray itself, the video and sound presentation are more than adequate and you’ll no doubt enjoy the movie just as much as you did at the multiplex. A Combo Pack including a 3D version of the film is also available, should that be your cup of tea. Personally, it’s not mine.
Aside from the deleted scenes and gag reel that you would expect to be included as supplemental content, viewers should take note of the featurettes that focus on the journeys Iron Man and Captain America have taken to this point, as well as the introductions of the aforementioned Black Panther and Spider-Man. Also, be sure to check out the sneak peek at the upcoming Doctor Strange.
Overall, Captain America: Civil War is one of my favorite Marvel Studios offerings to date. While not as tight and personal as The Winter Soldier was, this is another excellent effort from the studio and it’s left me more thrilled than ever that the Russo Brothers aren’t done with the MCU.
A tour de force in action and intrigue, Captain America: Civil War has raised the bar when it comes to what a Marvel movie can achieve.