Marvel yet again raises the bar.
The interesting thing about Disney/Marvel’s tentpole movies is how they went from just a superhero genre to one that is now releasing comic book movies with their own genre tone. We had a heist comedy with Ant-Man, we had a political thriller with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and now with Captain America: Civil War we’ve gone full into psychological thriller with a sprinkling of a mob movie.
Sounds strange but, no really, if you take the idea that the Avengers operate outside the law to dole out justice on their own terms, whether justified or not, they kinda operate like a mob. They all ganged up in The Avengers then re-teamed in Avengers: Age of Ultron and showed their might to save a world without considering how their power would also create fear toward them. The greatest mob movies are about how an operation is torn apart from the inside to be taken down whether due to bad blood or the government looking to temper a threat to their power. The Avengers have been a rising power that’s had their evolution unmasked in The Winter Soldier which revealed the corruption of HYDRA and put into motion the events in Civil War to bring them down.
The genre bending mastery is a huge testament to the creative team behind Joe and Anthony Russo’s Civil War because it has everything: motivations, action, stakes and humor without feeling bloated. We pick up on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the new Avengers led by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) dealing with how to take accountability for the collateral damage they’ve caused in all of the world saving scenarios they’ve intervened in. They’re asked to sign the Sokovia Accords to answer to a council of leaders that would determine the circumstances in which they could act. This splits the team in half between Tony who sees working with the government as a way to make amends for his part in facilitating the world endangerment while also setting up a way for their team to operate alongside governing bodies in the event that something else happens (like say an Infinity War or something like that).
How everything unfolds is truly meant to be experienced in a theater. I don’t want to walk you through it with play by plays. Honestly what this movie does right is take you on an emotional workout. When I saw the trailers I was worried if our mightiest heroes would just be witty while fighting and not being serious. No, the best way to describe why this movie works is because it’s a successful juggling act from the Russo’s. It’s in the way it moves, from motivations for all the characters to the action set pieces that don’t feel like the plot stops movies to just visual explosive porn, the action is earned, the stakes for every character are raised to propel them to a thrilling conclusion. Standouts include Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland, who don’t just show up without explanation and are introduced succinctly without needing to go off the rails to tell their origin story. And yes, Holland brings it as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Black Widow and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) get amazing moments to shine and be essential to the overall arc of the film though by the end, they still kind of fall away into the background when the story hones in on the main conflict between Tony and Steve.
Overall, Captain America: Civil War simply holds the title for superhero movie ever and takes it from Winter Soldier.
Marvel holds the championship still undefeated for the foreseeable future.