Wowowowowow what a movie.
Captain America: Civil War aka Avengers 2.5 is one of the best films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's already a pantheon Marvel movie, putting it in the same class as Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not to be a prisoner of the moment but I could argue that it's the best movie Marvel's put to the big screen yet.
Civil War is fun without being silly and serious without being melodramatic. It possesses slick action sequences with lots of shots coming from the Jason Bourne school of the shaky camera. At times it feels like your watching the movie while riding a roller coaster and I mean that in the best way possible. The Russo brothers' stylistic choice injects energy and tempo in fight scenes and it produces a glorious mess of head spinning action.
The movie also has plenty of quip that the characters are known for exchanging. It's films like these where we see the benefits Marvel's now eight-year run has sowed. The jabs and one-liners the characters exchange comes from a place of familiarity. Just as you and I can talk with lifelong friends differently than people we've just met so too do the characters in this universe. The chemistry shared doesn't feel disingenuous or manufactured, it's real because these characters have known each other for years.
The Avenger roster undergoes a slight change than when we last saw them in Age of Ultron. Out go Thor and Bruce Banner and in come T'Challa who doubles as the prince of Wakanda and the Black Panther, and Peter Parker who isn't quite the Spider-Man we've seen since his theatrical debut in 2003. Tom Holland's iteration of the webslinger is the youngest we've seen yet, but mercifully he's already been bitten by the radioactive spider that gave him his powers. Both Holland's Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa are more than welcome additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they're positively delightful and arguably the two best characters in the movie. Black Panther is a relatively unknown character so for those of you who aren't familiar he's like a cross between Batman, Iron Man and Wolverine and it's as dope as it sounds. He doesn't have super powers per se, but that doesn't prevent him from giving Captain America and Bucky Barnes all they can handle.
Holland meanwhile is everything we could have wanted from a Spider-Man once the news was announced Sony would be sharing the character with Marvel studios. Holland's Peter Parker is fun and witty yes but he never comes across as a jerk. His age, or lack there of, conveys an innocence that Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire never could pull off. He's just a boy trying to earn his place amongst the adults. He may as well be the kid from the Mean Joe Greene Coke commercial when he gets approval from both Tony Stark and Captain America.
Also I don't know why but they keep Benjamin Button-ing Aunt May. Rosemary Harris was 76 when she played Aunt May in Spider-Man. Harris turned into Sally Field who was 66 in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man. Now we have 51-year-old Marisa Tomei playing Aunt May and she's arguably the most attractive character in the whole movie. I now have a crush on Aunt May and I've never been more ashamed of myself.
Now the question that automatically comes to mind is how does Civil War compare to DC's Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. There is no comparison. Dawn of Justice is so vastly inferior to Civil War it's like watching a tricycle with three flat tires bogged down by cinder blocks and on fire try to race a Ferrari strapped to a rocket. What's worse for DC is that from a thematic standpoint the two movies have some parallels. But Marvel executed the ideology so much better it's almost as if they watched Dawn of Justice, laughed to themselves and said "We're going to do exactly what they did but infinitely better."
Both movies talk about accountability, existentialism and the regulation of power. Team Captain America stands by their belief that they're saving the day and they wish to retain their freedom to do so; Team Iron Man wants to be put in check and asks at what point are they any better than the terror that they're trying to stop. Dawn of Justice explored similar ideas with Superman being Captain America and Batman being Iron Man but for whatever reason Civil War just works better. Civil War is big but it never feels cramped. Dawn of Justice on the other hand has a smaller ensemble but you can almost see Zack Snyder trying to fit square pegs into round holes. But I could forgive all of these sins if Dawn of Justice wasn't such a depressing movie. I had fun watching Civil War. Dawn of Justice was just the opposite.
Maybe it's because Marvel's had an eight year head start over DC. They've had time to figure out what works and what doesn't. DC's still teething while Marvel's learning how to drive. Maybe the Russo brothers are better at their job than Zack Snyder is at his. Maybe it's a combination of both but I can offer no deeper reason for why Civil War works better than "because." Whatever "because" is, its led to another victory for Marvel in their war with DC.
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