**SPOILERS TO FOLLOW**
When you truly analyze a movie like Captain America: Civil War, coherent storytelling seems like an utterly implausible pipe dream since you’ve got so many characters to juggle. A host of major players find themselves squeezed into one restricting story (even at two hours plus), which STILL has to be a Captain America movie – because his name is in the title and all. This isn’t an Avengers film by definition. Civil War is a continuation of Bucky Barnes’ The Winter Soldier storyline, and how Cap has to fight against legal restrictions that threaten his ability to act without government interference. The true personification of “land of the free, home of the brave,” if you will.
Yet, we’re also talking about a film that has to direct initiatives for numerous Marvel movies to come, introduce new heroes and re-introduce familiar faces. Again, with all these superhero names involved in one movie, there’s no way Captain America: Civil War should work as well as it does – but here we are, discussing how Marvel has once again upped its own game.
But here’s the real question – how is Marvel so good at developing these multi-hero arcs in the same film, when DC stumbled so mightily out of the gate? Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice barely establishes its primary characters (Batman/Wonder Woman), and does nothing with the few cameos that were added for shock value. The Flash could have been easily mistaken for Iron Man – with his metallic time-travel suit or whatever – there’s no explanation as to why Momoa’s Aquaman is just chilling in the hull of a sunken ship, and Cyborg’s awakening is just thrown in to say “HE EXISTS!” Oh, and did you know Jimmy Olsen dies in the opening desert scene? Because that’s good old-fashioned fun, according to Zack Snyder!
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There’s so much dead air throughout Batman V Superman. Why not dig deeper into these supporting players a bit more instead of glorifying Batman’s Instant Messenger exchange with Wonder Woman? That’s where Marvel trounces DC (so far). Marvel does their groundwork first. Obscure characters like Ant-Man are developed through origin stories, while Hawkeye and Black Widow still manage to establish themselves on the ensemble stage. Throwing Mermaid Momoa in for no reason feels like fan-service of the lowest degree, which Marvel continually seems to avoid.
On an all-encompassing level, Marvel has honed in on a way to develop character depth in a short amount of time, largely in part due to the Russo brothers. Both The Winter Soldier and Civil War make the most out of each character’s appearance (some more than others), but there’s equal excitement shown for both old and new faces. Civil War doesn’t crumble under the weight of so many spandex suits, but instead becomes a highlight reel of balanced, character driven moments.
In dissecting the “new,” Civil War introduces TWO superheroes who will soon have their own origin stories. Chadwick Boseman is able to unleash Black Panther’s warrior spirit as T’Challa, and Tom Holland establishes his own quirky take on Peter Parker’s famous alter-ego. We not only get to see them in battle, but are given time to understand their emotional investment in Cap and Tony’s beef.
T’Challa has lost a father and goes through an inner journey that battles toxic thoughts of vengeance, while Peter’s relationship with Tony flourishes, leading to updated technology that will aid his spider abilities. We appreciate where they fit in the Marvel universe, and grow to love them as established characters – even though their origin stories are still to come.