‘Civil War’ Show Marvel’s Darker Side

Iron man, kneeling in the center, lines up a repulsor ray against Captain America, left, as Bucky Barnes approaches. Both Chris Evans (Captain America) and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) deliver powerful performances. The fracturing of their relationship is the centerpiece of the film, and neither actor disappoints. (Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

“Captain America: Civil War,” pits friends against each other in an ideological and physical brawl that completely changes the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on the 2007 story written by Mark Millar, “Civil War” focuses on the collateral damage caused by superheroes.

In the original comic, the world calls for superheroes to register with the United States Government after a young team, known as the “New Warriors,” fails to stop a supervillain from blowing up a town, killing hundreds of men, women and children. The film opens with the Avengers tracking the villain “Crossbones” in Africa, where things go wrong and lead to civilian deaths. The sovereign nations of the world call for the Avengers to relinquish control of their missions to the U.N. by signing the “Sokovia Accords,” named for the fictional country destroyed in the final scenes of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Despite the decision looking easy on the surface, the Russo brothers are masterful in exposing the audience to both sides of the coin, and this is where “Civil War” really shines.  No one side is right, and even though he is billed as the antagonist, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark hardly seems in the wrong; I walked away from the theater feeling conflicted. The balance between safety and freedom that the movie revolves around is so familiar that it is impossible not to draw parallels to real life events. There is no clear winner, and while there are still plenty of lighthearted moments and one-liners, overall this is the darkest entry into the MCU.

While the movie is titled “Captain America: Civil War,” it plays out more like an Avengers film.  The ensemble cast is great, and most of the storylines feel organic and important to the overall plot. Hawkeye is the only character that feels out of place in this fight. After having retired at the end of the last Avengers film, his reason for coming back feels forced, at best. The film could have done just as well leaving him out, and the screen time dedicated to him could have been better utilized on fleshing out the stories of some of the other characters.

Marvel also introduced two new characters into the cinematic universe: Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, and Spider-man, played by Tom Holland. Both Boseman and Holland are great additions to the film. Black Panther is one of the most important characters to the story, and Boseman does not disappoint; his performance is one of the high points in the film, and Black Panther’s character arc is exciting and relatable from beginning to end. The introduction of Spider-Man is another high point. Holland’s chemistry with Downey Jr. is palpable. Holland’s Spider-Man feels like it was ripped directly from the pages of the comic books, as he swings across the screen delivering one-liners that maintain the humorous edge he is known for.

This film has everything you have come to expect from a Marvel summer blockbuster. The action is fluid, and the cast is great. The all-out brawl between these heroes is everything I could have hoped for as a viewer. However, there are a few issues with exposition being dragged out.  One scene in particular, a flashback, is teased to the audience three separate times. By the time I saw it again right before the climactic final battle the impact was gone. Unfortunately, this makes a scene that should have been emotional for both the characters and the audience, fall flat.

The Russo brothers also chose to announce any major change in location by superimposing large block letters across the screen, which took me out of the experience. It was a smaller issue, but one worth mentioning.

“Civil War” is a great movie. Marvel has shown that you can make a comic book movie that handles a mature subject matter with a large ensemble cast, while maintaining strong story structure. The conflict and tension that each character experiences is believable, and by the end of the film, despite there being no clear winner, the story feels complete. “Civil War” delivers everything it promised, and then some.

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