Does the thirteenth film in the MCU prove to be lucky for Marvel?
It’s easy to say right out of the gate that Captain America: Civil War is one of the best Marvel movies to date. What’s so perfect about the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is how Marvel has slowly built its foundation over the past eight years, which in turn allows for these event-type films to take place. Basically, Marvel has reached the point where their MCU characters – much like their comic book brethren – now have some pretty in-depth backstories and relationships that can now be fleshed out in mini-arcs or events, such as Civil War.
For those who don’t read comics, it’s quite common for major events to take place that last an entire year and take place over multiple character titles that all intertwine on some level and show how each character is affected by said major event. On the more minor side, smaller story arcs that are more about delving into character development and such tend to last anywhere from one issue to six, and tend to focus on the main character of the comic you’re reading, such as Iron Man or Thor, much like their solo films do.
What’s so special about Captain America: Civil War is that we’ve got a two and a half hour story that has a dozen superheroes in it from all across the MCU, and it never, at any point, feels convoluted or overstuffed for the sake of cramming in more characters.
We’ve now had 11 movies about the heroes involved in Civil War, so while there’s still character development happening, we don’t have to be introduced to everyone who starts showing up throughout the movie – they’re just part of the world Marvel has created here, and it feels natural for them to arrive and help their friends when they do. Still, this just shows how much planning Marvel has done, and how well this universe is coming together, as juggling twelve heroes at the same time, all while keeping the main focus of the story on Steve Rogers is no small feat. And yet the directing duo of the Russo brothers, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do so almost effortlessly.
That was one concern that Robert Downey Jr. tried to quash early on after he signed on to be the “villain” of the film and people started referring to this as the Avengers 3, as everyone else from previous films started signing on after that as well. How could the film still focus on Captain America if everyone from The Avengers and more were also in the film? But RDJ said that this was still very much Steve’s story, and he was right.
The Civil War storyline in comics was massive and epic in scope, so to wrap all of that into a two and a half hour movie would be impossible. Instead, the focus is placed mainly on Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) unwillingness to sign an accord that would see The Avengers become a group overseen by the United Nations, sent where they see fit instead of just showing up places and randomly causing destruction and death (sure they’re also saving the day at the same time, but the casualties left in their wake are now starting to pile up, and the governments want them to be held accountable.
So Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brings this accord to the table and the schism between team members begins almost instantly. There are those who agree with Tony, and those who lean more towards Rogers and his hesitancy to sign because he sees it as giving up their right to choose what to fight for. What if there’s somewhere that needs them but they’re not sent in? Or what if there’s somewhere they shouldn’t be, and yet they are sent in?
Things take a turn for the worse when Cap’s old friend, Bucky aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) reemerges as the main suspect in a U.N. bombing that kills the king of Wakanda, and sets everything into a irreversible tailspin. Cap goes off to find Bucky with those who sided with him, and in turn they become viewed as accomplices and criminals thanks to the new accord, so it’s up to Tony and those who sided with him to bring them in.
Oh, and I guess I should mention the one new character that did need introducing in this movie: T’Challa, the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). It’s his father that’s killed in the blast, and so while now the new king of Wakanda, he’s also their protector, wearing the mantle of Black Panther. While his introduction isn’t an origin story, or anything deep like we’ll likely see in his upcoming solo film, it fits seamlessly into this storyline, and should really get people psyched to see what adventures are in store for him down the road. Trust me, the guy is a total badass.
So that’s the one new character that was introduced from scratch, but he’s not the only new member of the MCU. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you know that Spider-Man makes his return to Marvel with an appearance in this movie, once again being rebooted with a new actor in Tom Holland. Let’s just put everyone at ease right away: Holland is AMAZING as Peter Parker. The sharp wit is there, the look is there, and most importantly, Spider-Man is once again back with Marvel – even though Sony still has the rights.
Without getting too much into that whole thing, the partnership between Sony and Marvel to help make this happen will only benefit both sides. Not only will this united front help flesh out a much stronger Spider-Man franchise moving forward than we’ve seen in recent years, but the rub that Spider-Man: Homecoming (which is due out in theaters next year) will get from this movie will be huge.
While we’ve been growing with this cast of characters since Iron Man in 2008, Spider-Man fits right in as though he’s been there the whole time, which really proves that Marvel and Sony are looking to do right by Peter Parker this time out. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we don’t have to go through his origin story one more time. Uncle Ben was starting to rival the Waynes when it came to being shot and killed on screen. Great, I’ve probably just jinxed us all into a flashback scene next year.
Now let’s talk action. My hat goes off to choreographers Sam Hargrave and James Young. Captain America: Civil War easily has the best fight sequences of any Marvel film yet – and that’s no small feat. There have been amazing battles in every film, and yet the choreography that take place during the action scenes are true things of beauty. While some visual effects and stunt coordination certainly come into play as well, the film’s multiple heavy duty battle sequences are just incredible to behold. Each hit feels like it connects, and the quick cuts are held to a minimum, with full hand to hand combat almost always on full display for length periods at a time. Of course edits and camera work definitely help bring it all together, but these fights and the choreography within them are just awe inspiring.
The main battle between heroes does not disappoint in the slightest. Both sides are fighting for what they believe in, and while there are no punches being pulled (well, mostly no punches being pulled,) there’s also not a hatred for one another either. It’s just a giant rumble and it’s handled expertly. And again, like everything else in the film, it feels like the perfect length. It doesn’t drag on, and it doesn’t end in the blink of an eye. It’s just loads of fun to behold while it’s happening, and when it’s over it’s one of the main reasons you’ll want to go buy another ticket just so you can experience it once again.
There’s also a lot of emotion packed into Civil War, with a lot of it coming out in the fight scenes. This again, is handled extremely well by the Russo Brothers and the choreographers, as it’s easy for action sequences to be just a lot of punching, flips and explosions; however, here, there’s just so much raw emotion being emitted by the characters (mainly Rogers and Stark) that’s just showcased perfectly during their battles that it really helps elevate these scenes to another level.
Evans and Downey Jr. really play off of one another superbly here. I mean, their constant banter in both Avengers’ films was also fun and entertaining; but here it’s a different beast. Having that fun back and forth from beforehand to build off of really helps sell things now that they’re truly at odds with one another. While it’s clear that they’d much rather be on the same team instead of trading punches, the moral conflict between their beliefs of what’s right and Rogers’ unwillingness to give up on his best friend Bucky just won’t allow it.
And so with this, the thirteenth film of the MCU, Phase 3 has begun, and it’s proven to be anything but an unlucky number. The universe is changing, and it honestly feels like these characters are just getting started. With five Marvel movies slated to take place before the next Avengers film in 2018, it’ll be a long wait until we see the true fallout from the happenings in Civil War. With that said, the horizon is only getting brighter for Marvel fans, as superhero films don’t get much better than Captain America: Civil War.
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Notable Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.