I’ve made it known in previous reviews that my opinion of most Marvel films tend to be pretty low. To me, they are often flashy action blockbusters that contain enough humor to sustain the majority of the population. Marvel hit it big with the original Iron Man, and seemed to have been all down-hill from there (well, unless you only look at how much money they’ve been making, but I’m not critiquing them based on how popular they are). My hope for the Marvel cinematic universe was almost gone until Guardians of the Galaxy came out and brought new light to the franchise. Captain America 2, strengthened this light even more for me, as it brought in more serious writing and directing with the Russo Brothers. However, I lost hope again when the last Avengers movie came out; because, as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, Age of Ultron was absolute garbage.
Last night was opening night for Civil War. I went into this film trying to flush out all my expectations. The last time I went into a movie that was receiving large amounts of praise turned out to be a HUGE disappointment [see my review for The Jungle Book]. I was surprised to find that many of the critics I looked up to seemed to be hypnotized by Disney’s money or their fancy now CG animals (maybe both?). My fear last night was that the same would be true for this film. If you need more proof that I am NOT a fanboy when it comes to Marvel movies, I’d be happy to blast some of their previous garbage. With that being said, I must grudgingly admit that Marvel has finally rediscovered how to make a really good superhero movie.
The writers of the movie knew what they were up against. They were going to have to write a film that contained more major superheros than any other film has in the past. As we’ve seen (and they’ve learned) with both Avengers movies, it is very hard to write a movie with a large number of primary characters. The sheer number of important roles in this film was my biggest fear for it, but holy crap, did they do a good job. Sure, not every character gets the same amount of screen time, but they all bring an important element to the film’s plot. No one seemed to be wasted or unnecessary. That is the biggest praise I can give to the writers, because I was very impressed with this film.
Another thing that was impressive is the film’s villain. [Possible Minor Spoilers Ahead] The villain in this film is just a normal guy. Yeah, you read that right. He’s not an “enhanced being,” he’s not the smartest man in the world (granted, he is very smart and very resourceful), and he’s not trying to slaughter humanity. He’s also not the cliche bad guy that everyone has to put aside their differences for to fight in the end, because [Possible Major Spoiler] his plan actually works and he wins [End Major Spoiler]. This guy makes an excellent plan and does his absolute best to make sure it’s executed well. For the first time, I actually believed that one of the members of the Avengers was going to die, and it was an incredible experience [End Minor Spoilers].
Like I said in the previous section, the writers did an excellent job to make every character seem like they were very important to the plot of the story. Even Ant-Man, who’s total screen-time might amount to 5 minutes, seemed vitally important, despite my dislike for him. Allow me to do a rundown of the major roles in this film. (without any spoilers):
Between this film and the last Captain America, I believe Chris Evans really has become Captain America. Of the big-name heroes, I thought that he was the weakest character in both Avengers films and especially in his origin film. But now, he truly has solidified his role among this star-studded cast.
Robert Downy Jr. is incredible as Tony Stark, as was expected. However, I think this film did something Iron Man 3 tried desperately to do but couldn’t: show his emotional conflicts. RDJ brought out a side of Tony that we haven’t truly seen in past films.
Sebastian Stan is still one of the weak points in this cast, but I put most the blame on Buckey Barnes (Winter Soldier) being the most underdeveloped character of the bunch. But I don’t say that to mean that he was bad in this movie.
Anthony Mackie is able to find the fine line between important character and comic relief with his role as Sam Wilson (Falcon). His partnership with Chris Evans shines, once again.
Now, I may be biased, because I have been waiting for this moment for a long time, and he may be my favorite Marvel superhero, but Chadwick Boseman KILLED IT as King T’Challa (Black Panther). They spent minimal time developing his character, but they didn’t need much, because Boseman was an excellent choice for this role. I’m totally stoked to see his stand alone movie.
On the flip side, one of my least favorite Marvel superheroes also appeared in this film. But, for the first time in more than ten years, I have left the theater happy to see Peter Parker return to the big screen. Tom Holland might have only been on screen for 15 minutes, but he has become the face of Spider-Man for me. Holland enveloped everything I’ve always thought Spider-Man was supposed to be: a really young, bright, and awkwardly positive kid. Between him and Boseman, I have extremely high hopes for the cast of future Marvel movies.
Just like most of the other Marvel movies, the visual were heavily focused on so that they could still pull off that signature Marvel-Movie-Magic that seems to draw in record-breaking crowds every summer. However, I do think this film, under the excellent direction of the Russo Brothers, put a lot more emphasis on real stunts and action sequences compared to the rest of the Marvel films. There seemed to be a lot more hand-to-hand combat that involved real actors and stunt men/women than there usually is, and I think you all have come to know that I’m a huge fan of this kind of stuff. Sure, there’s the usual CGI bullshit flying around and destroying a ridiculous amount of buildings and cars and stuff like that, but in the best way possible, this film just felt different.
This wasn’t Marvel’s best film when is came to movie score. Sure, it’s not like the score took anything away from the film, but I rarely paid attention to the music because the on-screen action was always just that much more enticing to focus on. I don’t believe Marvel has really made a name for themselves anyway when it comes to original music. They certainly haven’t made an attempt to bring in some of the big names that DC has attracted in the past… *cough* Hans Zimmer *cough*
X-Factor: 5/10, Pirate Mace Windu did not appear in this film
What ever happened to Sammy J exactly? Does he just float around the Marvel Universe and only come out of hiding when the movie title has the word “Avengers” in it nowadays? Cuz it seems to me, that when Nick Fury got word that his fantasy roster of superheroes had suddenly started going ape-shit on each other instead of some nasty world-threatening bad guys, you’d think that he would get made, go into full Sam Jackson mode, and put everybody straight by scaring the bejeezus out of ’em with a super intense line of dialogue. But nope, no Samuel L. Jackson in this film. Sorry guys, better luck next time.
Go see it. A lot of people are going to say that it’s the best Marvel movie yet, and I’m strongly inclined to start agreeing with them. Heck, a lot of people will probably say that it’s their favorite superhero movie of all time, but those people probably say that for every new Marvel movie. This movie has made me excited and interested to see where the Marvel Universe is going to go. Granted I’m still skeptical about their next few releases (Doctor Strange, Thor 3, and Guardians 2), but new hope has sparked within me for this seemingly endless stream of superhero movies. I think it’s safe to say that the Russo Brothers have definitely made their mark within the textbooks of superhero-movie history.