A review of Captain America: Civil War

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Is it just me, or has Marvel been releasing some really solid material lately?

Compared with DC’s latest cinematic efforts, (see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Marvel has been releasing stellar entry after entry, first with the Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones, then with the hilarious Deadpool, and now with the cinematic epic Captain America: Civil War, the latest entry in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. I was never a huge comic book fan growing up (and of the material I was exposed to, Captain America was certainly my least favorite hero), but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has really started to grow on me and their latest entry with Civil War is certainly one of their best films yet.

Captain America: Civil War is intriguing in that it doesn’t feel quite like the last two films (The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier), but rather, more like the next entry in the Avengers movies. Aside from Thor and the Hulk, all the members are here with a couple of new additions like Spiderman and Black Panther to even things out. Even as I’m writing this, I have to continuously remind myself that the proper title of the movie is Captain America: Civil War, not The Avengers: Civil War.

Without spoiling too much of the film’s plot, Civil War sees our heroes—the Avengers—in some serious trouble. As our heroes fight battle after battle around the world, the collateral damage continues to add up and the governments of the world decide the group is simply too dangerous to be allowed to operate on their own anymore without some kind of oversight and regulation. Shaken by recent events involving Captain America’s longtime friend, Bucky, the team is split in two as the members wrestle with their conflicting ideologies over how the Avengers should operate.

As I was watching this movie for the first time, I was surprised by how many parallels I could draw between the themes present in this film and those found in Batman v Superman (BvS). In BvS, Superman is called upon to answer for the destruction left behind during his first attempt to save the world in the movie Man of Steel, and the Avengers are called upon to do the same in a very similar fashion. Both Superman and the Avengers are brought to governmental hearings where things go terribly wrong and the hero(es) must stop the bad guy and save the day, although Civil War’s situation is a little less black and white in terms of morality.

Where BvS adds in a whole God-complex issue with Superman, Civil War’s themes are more socio-political and more open to interpretation. Should a force as powerful as the Avengers be reigned in under government supervision and oversight, or should they be allowed to operate outside the constraints of the law, deploying themselves at any time wherever humanity’s biggest crises are unfolding? Civil War provides no right answer to this question, but challenges the viewer to develop their own opinion by the film’s end. After a long string of mind-numbing action movies, it’s nice to see a superhero film inject a little philosophy into the mix and Civil War pulls it off in a way that is neither preachy nor easily missed.

Even with all the philosophical talk and questions of morality, Civil War still manages to be a solid action movie and may very well be the best one Marvel has produced yet. The action and fight scenes are top-notch with some fast-paced editing and almost painful looking choreography. Even the sound adds a level of intensity not found in previous films with every punch and kick resonating with a deep thud. With this combination of quick editing and deep, booming sound, some of the action sequences seem almost brutal and would be painful to watch if these characters were anything closer to normal human beings.

As I mentioned briefly before, Civil War also adds a couple of new characters to the superhero mix with Black Panther and Spiderman. I didn’t know a whole lot about Black Panther prior to this movie, so I can’t comment as to the accuracy of his character in this film, but I will say that Marvel has finally developed a cinematic Spiderman that looks and sounds just like his comic book counterpart. In this rendition of the popular character, Spiderman is actually believable as a geeky teenage kid and is far more likable than his past incarnations.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is an exhilarating ride that offers all the fun of a summer blockbuster while providing a little more thoughtfulness than previous superhero movies. If you’re a fan of the comic books or the previous films, or just a casual moviegoer looking for a good time, Captain America: Civil War is one you don’t want to miss.

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