I’ve been reading comic books, graphic novels, illustrated tales and cartoons since I was knee high to Ant-Man and say, what you will about Disney, but we’re in a golden age for comics fans.
Anyone who doubts that or the staying power of the superhero genre needs to see CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, because the Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe, take all their excellent work on WINTER SOLDIER and turn this third Captain America movie all the way up to 11 on the SPINAL TAP dial.
Functioning both as CAPTAIN AMERICA part three, and as THE AVENGERS part two-and-a-half, it’s a far better movie than AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and, incredibly for such a large cast bonanza, it manages to feel just as intimate and character driven as it does action-packed and over-stuffed.
There’s no big bad universal threat here, instead the stakes are intimate and involving, personal yet, for some at least, profound. More than a dozen Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies in, and the backstories are beginning to pay off big time. The MCU is stating to have the same longevity as long-running TV dramas (think GAME OF THRONES, only with more capes, less nudity, no bloodshed, and no incest), or that other Disney owned family saga about the Skywalker clan.
The plot is pretty simple, and all the more powerful for that. Should The Avengers be regulated? It’s pretty much the same idea as BATMAN V SUPERMAN, and the disappointment and gross missteps of that long-awaited superhero team up/beatdown is undeniably one of the reasons why this latest Marvel is just that – a marvel. Because it works.
From the introduction of new characters (Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland are awesome as Black Panther and Spider-Man respectively), to the inclusion of old favourites, CIVIL WAR may be light on the development of some of its many characters – but at least it has some damn characters to develop. As such, it’s a great counterpart to Joss Whedon’s first AVENGERS movie, only instead of the tale of a superhero team uniting, here we get the tale of a team falling apart.
Holding the whole thing together, Chris Evans owns the Steve Rogers/Captain America character, just as Robert Downey Jr owns Tony Stark/Iron Man. There are no cheesy villains, no silly convoluted narrative sleights-of-hand to set events into motion. Rather, these are two people who both think they’re right. No baddie. No goody. Just two differing ideologies. This culminates in a huge end of Act 2 fight that’s not only awesome in terms of action beats, but in terms of not knowing who to cheer. Turns out employing competing ideologies over villainy wins big time in terms of audience involvement.
At around the two-and-a-half hour mark, the main issue with CIVIL WAR is that the running time is just too small to encompass such a huge cast of interesting characters. But that’s its upside too. Because this is just one in an ongoing series of tales.
Is it the best Marvel movie to date? Maybe. It certainly ranks up there with the first AVENGERS and CAPTAIN AMERICA movies, and with the introduction of a new Spider-Man, and the tantalizing promise of more MCU tales to come, CIVIL WAR is not only a great superhero movie, it’s the perfect riposte to Snyder’s BATMAN V SUPERMAN. Hell, Marvel should’ve just called it THAT’S HOW TO DO IT, DC and created a poster featuring Cap and Iron Man beating the rap out DC’s Dark Knight and Caped Crusader.
As for the 3D? Just as with AGE OF ULTRON, it's no great shakes. To date the only MCU movie that ranks (for me at least) as a must see in 3D was James Gunn's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - which looked great and added oodles in the third dimension.