It was inevitable. Eventually Civil War was going to hit theaters among the dense hype surrounding the movie and skyrocketing expectations. My opinion is clear and unwavering – Civil War is a triumphant movie. Marvel’s best. I can back that up and at the same time, illustrate why comic book, video game, and anime cinema fail.
Civil War starts out slow. Clearly, there was effort to refresh the audience with what has transpired since the first Avengers movie. There was a slew of name drops to prove the universe still included the likes of Thor and Hulk, even though they were not in the film. During this refresh, Nick Fury was nowhere to be found…not sure that was a great idea. However, I get it – you have a ton of actors for this movie and you’re adding two more characters to the fray.
What made this movie great? The Russo Brothers harnessed the tension that was already established in movies preceding it, cultivated it, and ran with it. The movie practically writes itself with the work of so many good writers and directors over the last 8 years. You could tell they did their homework. I appreciated conversations between characters that reminded you of their history. For Iron Man and Captain America, the history is deep. You get the feeling this is the culmination of their philosophies revealed in the argument they had in the Avengers ending with Cap telling Tony “Put on the suit!” You appreciate the effort.
The airport fight is the best comic book movie scene ever choreographed, written, shot, edited, and viewed of all time. There is no equal in film past or present, and it will be difficult to dethrone. When I went off about BvS, this is what I meant about taking what was earned. All the characters on screen had something to prove and a history to back it up. Due to the excellent introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man, even their appearance was seamless. They belonged. Luckily, the heavy lifting that made the sequence possible was 8 years of superb filmmaking and character building. There’s really not much else to say.
Finally, to explain why this movie succeeded where others fail. The key is being true to the subject matter. Hollywood has always been an industry that tries to appeal to the masses. In that quest, studios will forgo the spirit of the subject – be it a character, location, attitude, etc – in favor of one that will sell according to their audience studies. As long as it makes the money they expect, they don’t care. Marvel has consistently broken the trend while at the same time making movies that are just fun to watch. The balance it takes to accomplish this is difficult. Civil War does this. Yes, the main villain does not have the original origins, but the spirit was there. This is where the core audience can forgive, or at least understand. Yes there was a lot going on…but have you tried to read a comic? Stuff comes out of left field all the time! Respect the subject matter, respect the characters and success will come. Captain America: Civil War did just that and then some. Kudos to the team helming the project.
Jacen Hardy’s Take:
About a month ago, I left the theater more angry than I had ever been at a movie. Batman v Superman took Superman and turned him into Batman and got so far away from the essense of both characters that I didn’t see a way they could recover. This week, I cried tears of joy as I saw my all time favorite Superhero brought to life on screen with no compromises and completely true to who that character is. I’m talking about the depiction of Spider-man in Civil War, but he’s not the only hero who made an incredible impression on me. I know next to nothing about Black Panther, so I can’t speak to whether or not they got him right, but he got an incredible introduction into the MCU.
Being a Spider-Man fanboy, I want to go back to him. Toby Maguire made for a good Peter Parker, nerdy, awkward and bad at life, but his Spider-Man was a little bit lifeless. Andrew Garfield had the opposite problem. His Spider-Man was more entertaining, but his Peter Parker was just…. too cool. What Sony had failed to grasp through 5 movies was that what makes Spider-Man so special, so loveable, is his contrast. Without the mask on, he’s an awkward, nerdy teen without much self confidence. When he puts on the mask, he becomes someone else. He’s cocky, wise-cracking, and very good at his job. The mask is something of a true second identity for him. When you go to portray him in any medium, you have to take that into account. This is what Marvel did brilliantly in this film. Tom Holland is perfectly nerdy and awkward as Peter Parker and hilariously wise cracking and cocky as Spider-Man. I was dying laughing and crying from joy at finally seeing the Spider-Man I grew up loving and identifying with as a nerdy teenager brought to life on screen perfectly. I hope Sony lets Marvel do their thing with the character going forward, because this is free money for them if they just keep their hands out of it.
This movie could easily have been called Winter Soldier 2. Through and through, it was still Captain America’s movie, even if Spider-man stole the show while he was on screen. The Russo brothers continued their narrative about Cap and Bucky’s relationship they started in Winter Soldier and finally brought a sense of closure to Cap’s search for his old friend. I wasn’t sure how they were going to bring it all full circle, but the end of the movie when Cap fought to protect his friend from Iron Man’s onslaught and the emotional gut punch that went along with it was beautiful. There is so much good that can be said about this movie, but I truly think it’s best to experience it for yourself. Go see it.