Marvel Studios’ 13th film proves the superhero genre still has a lot to offer
By Blake Williams (Plano East High School Student)
Captain America: Civil War is the third entry in Marvel Studios’ Captain America series, and the thirteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coming at a time when a lot of people are starting to get tired of superhero films, especially after the critical failure of Warner Brothers’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this movie is an incredible breath of fresh air for the superhero genre as a whole. Where 21st Century Fox’s Deadpool succeeded in flipping the superhero origin story on its head and putting a hilarious and twisted spin on the formula, Civil War takes the epic scale of superhero team-up films like the X-Men films and Marvel Studios’ own Avengers movies, and fits it into what feels like a very personal and emotional story about accountability, friendship and vengeance. The Captain America films have consistently maintained their presentation as good superhero films. Each of them has amped up the quality of their predecessors significantly and Civil War is no exception.
After seeing this film I felt like I had witnessed the culmination of every Marvel film made to date ever since Iron Man released in 2008. The story involves a vast majority of the characters Marvel has introduced us to, but the movie does a spectacular job at juggling the various different characters. I knew the characters well enough that the relationships explored throughout the film had an emotional effect on me, and it’s also thanks to the movie’s writing that I was able to connect so well with them.
Two of the biggest high points, coming from how well handled the various characters are, were the introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man.
I came into this film knowing nothing about Black Panther, but Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal as the character oozed regality and presence. I was awed with his action sequences, his costume looked absolutely fantastic, and his involvement in the plot worked very well.
I actually grew up loving Spider-Man and his portrayal in animated cartoons and in the several comic books I had access to as a child, so it would be an understatement to say that Tom Holland as Spider-Man was one of the best parts of this film for me. His Peter Parker feels so much more like the character I knew from the comics. He’s hilarious, talkative and his chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic. The only downside to his involvement in this film is that his inclusion didn’t feel particularly necessary. The character itself was handled better than either of the past two film iterations, but his involvement in the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man wasn’t fleshed out in a way that benefited the overall structure of the film.
The writing presents both sides of the main conflict between Captain America and Iron Man very well, and the story gave them both very valid reasons for taking the sides that they take. I came into the film rooting for Captain America to come out on top, but as the film went on and I got to see the motivations and decisions made by these characters, I came to the conclusion that both sides had equal justification. Iron Man takes a more diplomatic and logical stance whereas Captain America focuses on the emotional and moral aspects, and both of these areas of conflict are handled very well.
Most of the reason why the ideological battle between these two characters works so well is because the acting of the two leads is the best I’ve witnessed in a Marvel film by far. Robert Downey Jr. is brilliant as Tony Stark, and this film showcases that to full effect. You can sense the turmoil he’s experiencing simply in the way he looks at Cap during some scenes. His experience playing the role is evident in how fantastically he embodies the character in this film. I almost consider this as much of a sequel to Iron Man 3 as I do a sequel to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Chris Evans wonderfully plays the titular character of Captain America. His personal relationships between several of the characters, notably Bucky, plays a huge part in how he behaves throughout the film, and this feeling of emotional attachment and history is accomplished in no small part by Evan’s acting. You can simply feel the impact of all of the events of his life since Captain America: The First Avenger. His development in all of his films indicates how well the writers understand his character.
One of the greatest things this film accomplishes is its ability to bring these fantastical, larger-than-life characters down to such a human level. One of the things this film accomplishes that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice couldn’t was making these characters feel authentic and human. You feel a personal attachment to them because the writing allows you to examine them as people rather than look at them as gods or aliens that you have little to relate with.
All in all, Civil War gave me the breath of fresh air I needed to be able to look at superhero films and say that there’s more ground that has the opportunity to be covered. This movie proves that superheroes shouldn’t be considered a genre of film so much as a vehicle to allow unique and entertaining stories with interesting characters to be told.