Some have noted how the Marvel films are all fairly similar, at least in tone and the formula that follows a TV episode of thwarting the bad guy at the end of it. That's why they bring in directors to genre bend. Sometimes it works, when the Russo brothers (who directed this edition) make a 70s, espionage thriller and call it The Winter Soldier, and sometimes it doesn't, when Shane Black makes a Shane Black movie and calls it Iron Man 3, which you might know I really did not enjoy as a superhero film. Of course, it's awful hard not to enjoy something someone works on for so long, and how much endless work probably goes into a Marvel film. That's why it's so wonderful to see the culmination of all of Marvel's work since Iron Man in 2008 (god, I was 12 and now I'm going to be a junior in college) in Civil War. This is a later review (no rest for the wicked, they say) so I'm going to address the big things below that everyone's talking about. But as for a general review, while there were some flaws, it's everything I wanted Batman v Superman to be, yet so far from that rather mess of a movie mashup it's gotten me so excited for Marvel's Phase Three:
- SPIDER-MAN: He isn't even a man yet! And yet I like him already so much better than Andrew Garfield. Without spoiling anything, Tom Holland's Peter Parker is a revelation, and even in his limited screen time you know his Homecoming spinoff is going to be wonderful. He's jokey and fun but he's also in awe of all these superhero icons he's meeting. The directors had fun making meta-references here, you can tell, after all they buttered their bread with Community.
- THE OTHER NEW(ER) CHARACTERS: Technically of the Avengers, Black Panther is the only new face to the MCU. I thought his origin story was a little rushed, but the character himself looks like he's gonna be ferocious, and his stand alone film will be not only entertaining but a step forward in superhero diversity. Boseman is winning as the prince. Scarlet Witch and Vision was an...interesting interaction. I certainly didn't see it coming as a non-comic book reader. Everyone else really got their moment in the sun, which I'll talk about in just a second. Except Hawkeye. His appearance confused me, other than just another face to put on the poster. He came so late, too.
- THE VILLAIN: MCU films are now notorious for their forgettable villains, sans Loki. I enjoyed Ultron (more than most people) and Jebediah Stone as well, but I couldn't even tell you who the bad guy was from The Dark World or Guardians of the Galaxy. Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo wasn't particularly a standout, but his reasoning for becoming who he is isn't cartoony. It's real, and stinging, and something that might happen in this post 9/11 world.
- CAP AND TONY'S RELATIONSHIP: Like I said, everyone got their time to shine in Civil War. Black Widow, Falcon and War Machine maybe less so, but they've been established. It's just cool to see all of these faces and heroes interacting with each other at this point, and how Falcon can be in Ant-Man (which I didn't review but thoroughly enjoyed) and they can just drop in because it's all the same world. It's a 1940's serial, really. But instead of calling it Avengers 2.5, it is indeed a sequel to The Winter Soldier. It focuses on Cap's troubling relationship with Bucky, and then his troubling relationship with Stark after something horrible happens when the Avengers are out of country. I thought it was handled expertly, which leads to...
- THE THEME: Collateral damage is not what you think of when you think of superhero films, but now both BvS and this film have addressed it. They aren't fighting baddies in deserted regions: they're protecting the world from the forces of evil, but that means a cost in lives. The "Civil War" in question is the government wanting to supervise the Avengers. Tony's for it, Cap isn't. It's meta and wonderful and such a smart move.
- THE AIRPORT FIGHT: Believe the hype.
Rating: 3/4 stars