I always ask myself one question after every movie: Would I watch it again? This is a technique I use to measure how much I enjoy a film. If it manages to create characters, worlds or universes that I want to return to, it succeeds its purpose to entertain. Of course, such a question is not applicable to every film; Room is just one of numerous films I recommend but don’t plan on watching ever again. Yet, as we have seen with a certain controversial juggernaut of a film that was released a couple months ago, stories that rely on fantasy shouldn’t simply echo our reality. They must also offer an escape from it.
So, would I watch Captain America: Civil War again?
Yes, I would. Again and again.
When the world decides that the Avengers who protect it need to be kept in check, the team splits into two factions: Those who are for government supervision and those who aren’t. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for and Captain America (Chris Evans) is against. Only Iron Man and those who stand with him are allowed to continue on as Avengers, but Captain America cannot stand by when an international crisis occurs with his best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) at the center of it. In a war between friends, who wins?
Captain America: Civil War is the greatest Marvel movie to date.
It had the herculean task of both meeting unconscionably high expectations from fans and multiple universe-building demands from Marvel. With an intricate story that involves several characters, old and new, Civil War does so seamlessly. However, that isn’t the reason Civil War is a triumph. This film never lets audiences feel the burden of everything it has to accomplish. Through its intelligent storytelling, it allows audiences to smile and enjoy what they are seeing. It is also aware of the emotional investment fans have in these characters and takes advantage of this investment in the best of ways.
This is why Civil War is the epitome of a Marvel film. It recaptures the indescribable wonder first introduced in The Avengers of watching characters from a connected universe interact with one another. It trusts that audiences have kept up with previous Marvel films and just builds on what has come before. In true comic book fashion, each action sequence is masterful in its creative usage of multiple characters with distinct abilities. More importantly, the film isn’t afraid to make you laugh. It shows that being a superhero can be fun and painful. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.
Civil War also follows the Marvel tradition of forgettable villains. Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) doesn’t resemble his comic book counterpart and not enough time is spent exploring this new interpretation of the character. However, this by no means makes the film weak. Marvel has always made a point of making movies about heroes, not villains. While Zemo is underutilized, his plan makes more sense than the one made by the guy obsessed with red capes and peach tea. Given the sheer number of superheroes in this film, it is understandable why the one character with evil intentions has to take a backseat. Furthermore, Civil War’s main conflict doesn’t involve Zemo. His role is to make unavoidable clashes happen quicker and for the sake of the story, that’s all we need of him.
Two heroes that play pivotal roles in said clashes are new additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Yes, that’s right. We have a new Spider-Man. Like many, I went into this movie with Spider-Man fatigue. I didn’t need nor want another Peter Parker, but Holland won me over with his quick wit and youthful artlessness. Although his introduction may seem rushed, by the time he puts on his suit audiences won’t mind. If anything, they will wish he was in the movie more. Thankfully, they will have Black Panther to gaze at in his absence. Thanks to Boseman’s commanding performance, Black Panther is the most intriguing character of all. T’Challa is royalty. He doesn’t just save people; he must lead them as well. Such a superhero has yet to be explored on the big screen. His phenomenal introduction in Civil War makes his upcoming solo film the most exciting project Marvel has to offer.
However, Civil War is not flawless. Its main drawback is its running time. At two hours and twenty-seven minutes, this movie is long. Due to its scope, Civil War is incredibly dense. It’s easy to get lost in all the storylines and characters. But the film is focused and confident in its ability to balance everything. Each character’s motivations are clear and reflect their individual ideals. No dialogue seems out of place. By the end of the film, every question that needed to be answered is. The fact that Civil War is not a chaotic mess is a testament to the strength of its script and direction. If I were to cut out some moments for the sake of time, they would only be two or three minutes in total. The film would still be long regardless, which is why this is a necessary weakness for the type of story the directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, wanted to tell.
Civil War is everything that Batman v Superman should have been. No, I am not suggesting that Batman and Superman needed to crack jokes as they took turns punching each other. What I am saying is that Civil War focuses on the conflict its title promises and tells a cohesive, compelling story. It stays true to the characters from the comics and doesn’t magically fix things with one word.
The Russo brothers have reassured audiences with Civil War that the next two Avengers movies are in safe hands. Although this film is essentially Avengers 2.5, it’s more than the team-up spectacle we have come to expect. At its core, Captain America: Civil War is about two friends who disagree. It doesn’t paint one of them as morally right or wrong. It just poignantly reminds us that divided, we fall.
Captain America: Civil War was released on May 6, 2016.