The superhero versus film is arguably one of 2016’s most popular movie genres. With mega-celebrity lineups and compelling comic book plotlines, its formula guarantees box-office success. It does not, however, ensure that it will be met with warm praise from audiences and critics alike. And if you’re one of the many fans still trying to recover from the hot mess that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, worry not!
Captain America: Civil War, the third installment for the Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is here to wash away all that glum DC brouhaha Zack Snyder sharted out…with an epic dose of superhero squad brawling, of course.
Political pressure is mounting for the Avengers. Their infamy as Earth’s mightiest protectors is rising, but not without consequence or collateral damage. The destruction of Sokovia during the battle with Ultron is still fresh in the public’s consciousness, forcing governments around the world to band together and force boundaries on the superhero team. This puts tension between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), whose opposing views on the matter divide the rest of the group. And in true Marvel fashion, high-octane action and mutant mayhem ensue.
In the wake of BvS and with X-Men: Apocalypse looming on the horizon, Civil War has all the elements in place to be the year’s most successful superhero versus blockbusters.
Here’s how it conquers:
It’s safe to say that Civil War is, at heart, an action movie. There’s a lot more warring and a lot less being, well, civil. It seems like bro-duo directors Joe and Anthony Russo were keen on sticking to what the title of this movie promises: an ass-load of cinematic brawling. Each sequence is carefully choreographed and placed within the film in a slightly operatic manner—starting slow with your garden variety opening battle, and then quickly ascending to a crescendo of blood and bruises, before crashing down to a heart-stomping finish. Hold your pee, because there’s an insta-classic airport fight scene you don’t want to miss.
With a strong cast of talented thespians, it’s easy for one actor or actress to steal the spotlight away from the rest. And although this is a Captain America flick, each Avenger—whether old, new, or fresh recruit—is given memorable lines and ample screen time. The chemistry (and tension) brewing between the characters boasts that of a quirky family dramedy, only everyone’s got superpowers instead of familial issues.
The script of writers Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely has an admirable sense of fluidity. It’s straightforward enough that the characters begin at point A, conflict ensues, and they find themselves at point B. And although it shares some similar socio-political themes with Dawn of Justice, there are no confusing flashbacks or dream sequences that act as a cop-out.
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Spider-Man! The runaway scene-stealer is the new and improved Peter Parker (played by the promising Tom Holland). When the youngling is brought into the fray and madness with all the senior super-dudes, he holds his own during the ultimate showdown. Forget Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, this kid’s got a knack for delivering the punches and the punch lines.
The freshest thing about the Captain America movie franchise is that it’s equal parts fun and sophisticated. Unlike BvS, which tries too hard to delve into that gritty hyperrealism only director Christopher Nolan was capable of executing, the Marvel Cinematic Universe knows when to bust out the party poppers without sacrificing its edge or real-world commentary. Whether you’re gunning for Team Cap or Team Iron Man doesn’t really matter. Once one superhero has reigned supreme and the credits start rolling (and yes, you’re still in your seat waiting for the prized end-credits scene), you find yourself already excited for the next installment.