It’s the year of superhero showdowns! Daredevil took on The Punisher on Netflix, Batman had a bone to pick with Superman, and now Captain America and Iron Man have divided the Avengers and are at war.
I had a blast watching Captain America: Civil War and I honestly think it’s one of the best Marvel films to date. While it obviously isn’t perfect (honestly, which movie is?), there are so many things the movie gets right that I decided to make a spoiler-free list out of all its positives. Marvel’s latest offering is huge in scale, heavy with an ensemble of characters, and loosely tackles one of the most defining arcs in Marvel’s long and illustrious comic book history. For what it’s worth and for all the shortcomings of not having every Marvel superhero under their banner, I think the Russo brothers, Kevin Feige, and the entire team behind Civil War did an amazing job.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe now entering its third phase and well on its way to the ultimate culmination of the franchise, Captain America: Civil War does a great job at raising the stakes, escalating the storyline, and giving our heroes more depth and character as they head into the defining chapter of this giant arc. Here are the 15 things that Captain America: Civil War did that were absolutely perfect.
15. Steve Rogers – Bucky Barnes Relationship
Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are like brothers, and the Captain America movies have done a pretty good job at emphasizing that bond time and time again. One of my fears going into Captain America: Civil War was that the Rogers-Barnes friendship would have to be re-established with cheesy flashback scenes or bad expositional dialogue. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case at all, and right off the bat we’re shown that Steve still cares deeply for his old friend. I guess the filmmakers thought that if anyone needed a crash course on Bucky Barnes, they should just pick up a copy of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Civil War does a fantastic job at showing us the kinship and chemistry between the two childhood friends without having to resort to time-wasting flashbacks and montages.
14. Introducing Black Panther
It’s hard work introducing a new character into an already packed ensemble. But when you have a powerhouse actor like Chadwick Boseman playing the warrior T’Challa (aka Black Panther), things get a little less difficult. Boseman captivates with his charismatic on-screen presence from the moment he shows up, but when things get rough and he debuts the Black Panther in full gear, you’re bound to go “Woah, now that’s badass!”
The Russo brothers did an excellent job at introducing and establishing the Panther’s motives in just a few minutes, without ever deviating from the story. It wasn’t forced and the character definitely isn’t shoehorned into the plot, thus making the Black Panther an amazing new element to this movie and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
13. Consequences of War
The biggest problem on DC’s side of things is the collateral damage caused by Superman’s destructive way of handling business. Warner Bros and Zack Snyder tried to address this glaring issue in Batman v Superman but seemingly only made things worse. At the risk of sounding like a Marvel fanboy, I dare say that Captain America: Civil War addresses the consequences of superhuman showdowns perfectly.
The entire plot of Civil War rests on the fact that the Avengers have indirectly caused a lot of damage and many people have lost their lives in the catastrophic events that have taken place thanks to invading aliens and freakishly evil robots. This promotes the legislation of the ‘Sokovia Accords’, a document that bars the Avengers from acting as a rogue unit. The way Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and the rest of the group react to the damage they have caused is touching, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still heroes and the world still needs them. This is where Civil War excels. It shows us the effects of these city-leveling battles and it paints our heroes as flawed characters, but not once does it make them seem cruel or bloodthirsty.
12. Humanizing The Vision
The Vision, played by the unbelievably talented Paul Bettany, was a polarizing figure in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. While I liked what he could do, I felt as though his character was too sudden and distracted us from the story. However, he’s back in Civil War and the Russo brothers manage to give him some much-needed depth and personality within his first few minutes of screen time.
Although they don’t deviate from his character or cause him to be someone else entirely, they do allow us to see him in a different light and warm up to this otherwise stoic figure.
11. The Bond Between The Avengers
Yes, this is the Civil War and the Avengers are fighting amongst themselves, but they don’t just flip at the first sight of trouble. On the contrary, the war is played out pretty well and you can see that these characters truly care for each other despite their opposing ideals. I’m aware that a lot of people will compare this to the comic book arc of the same name, but try to remember that this movie is only loosely based on those pages, probably for namesake alone. While it’s fun to see them try to take each other down, it was more satisfying to see the bond that they have with one another in spite of being at each other’s throats. Don’t get me wrong, stuff gets dark, but at least we get to see some level of consistency in these characters whom we’ve spent the last eight years with.
I knew Paul Rudd was going to be funny, but the guy downright steals the show when he shows up! I liked what director Peyton Reed did with the solo Ant-Man film and I thought it was pretty funny, but I dare say what the Russo brothers have done here pretty much outwits the Ant-Man movie by a mile. I can’t say anything without spoiling it, so go in and watch Paul Rudd do what he does best for yourselves.
9. Style and Substance
While the cinematography isn’t as pretty as Age Of Ultron, the Russo brothers do a fine job at keeping the third installment in the Captain America franchise tonally consistent with their previous film, The Winter Soldier. The movie once again feels like a multi-layered political thriller. Sometimes it feels a lot like one of the Bourne movies. Nevertheless, it’s a good style, but what’s more impressive is the story behind the visuals. The script isn’t simple and neither are the characters. Instead of a one-track ‘hero versus villain’ plot, Civil War is both complex and easy to follow at the same time.
While it’s easy to enjoy a movie with grand visuals and colorful scenes, it’s equally satisfying to know that Marvel gives credence to proper storytelling when it comes to their cinematic universe.
8. Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Okay, the moment everyone has been waiting for. Spider-Man is handled perfectly in Civil War. There, I said it. Some will love this new interpretation of Spider-Man, and others might complain about him being too young, but I personally think Marvel handled the character in remarkable fashion. Not only do they have to reintroduce this character to us for the third time in about a decade, but they do it with so much tact that the audience instantly warms up to their new Peter Parker and everything is smooth sailing from there. Tom Holland is funny, positively awkward, and has great comedic timing…which is pivotal to any interpretation of Spider-Man.
Mind you, Spider-Man’s appearance isn’t a minor cameo either. You’ll be thrilled to know that he has a significant part in this movie. While Tobey Maguire will always be my sentimental favorite when it comes to web-slingers, I think this new kid is the best on-screen incarnation of the character so far.
7. Sense of Humor
Ever since The Dark Knight blew box-office records to oblivion, superhero movies have tried to be grittier and darker in an effort to replicate the same kind of success. Marvel have done a great job of balancing grit and humor in most of their movies, and Civil War is no different. While it’s arguably the darkest of the Marvel bunch, which doesn’t mean it’s too dark at all, it’s also infused with a good amount of humor. It isn’t annoying humor like the type we get from Kat Dennings‘ character in the Thor series, but rather more in the vein of witty one liners, smart banter, and clever dialogue.
While it’s nice to see the superhero genre taking itself seriously, there’s no reason why they can’t stay fun by adding a little lightheartedness into the mix. In that respect, Civil War is probably one of the funnier films in Marvel’s lineup, while also being one of the studio’s darkest arcs in their massive Avengers series.
6. Fleshed-Out Characters
What I love most about Captain America: Civil War is how much time each character is given to tell a story. No one seems rushed, and not one character exists in the film for no reason. It’s all very cleverly fleshed out and the result is a clean and coherent movie that’s easy to follow albeit being complex in nature.
It’s a tough job trying to address so many different characters without making some of them look insignificant, but directors Anthony and Joe Russo are so skilled at storytelling that they focus the spotlight on each individual character for just the right amount of time. In the end, it doesn’t feel bloated, and it definitely isn’t messy, making Civil War one of the best paced superhero movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.
5. Tony Stark’s Past
We’ve heard a lot about Tony Stark’s past over the years but we’ve never really gotten a glimpse into the relationship with his father, Howard Stark. Although the movie doesn’t delve too deep into the Stark family history, Civil War finally addresses some struggles that Tony has with his tragic past. I won’t give anything away so you’ll have to watch it for yourself, but what I’m pointing out here is progression in a story. Civil War is able to take the Stark character and force him to evolve, which is basically what every good character needs in order to remain relevant in the pop-culture landscape.
4. The Threat Is Real
Finally, a real threat! One major issue I’ve had with Marvel is their portrayal of villains. With the exception of Loki, all their major villains are hilariously outgunned by the good guys. When is the last time a villain was properly fleshed out in a Marvel film? From the Dark Elves to Ronan the Accuser, Marvel’s villains are basically stereotypical boss-fight baddies who not only lack depth, but never really seem like a threat to the abundantly powerful lineup of heroes Marvel has pitted against them.
This time however, the threat is real. There’s a sense of danger once Captain America and Iron Man part ways, and there are other forces at play that truly threaten to divide the Avengers. I appreciate the fact that this isn’t a standard ‘good versus bad’ movie, but rather a blurring of the lines between what’s truly good and what’s really evil. Again, I can’t say much without spoiling anything, so you’ll have to check it out for yourselves.
3. The Winter Soldier
I was worried that Bucky Barnes would be a one-dimensional character in Civil War since most of his story was told back in The Winter Soldier. I was wrong, because that’s not the case at all. Civil War delves further into Bucky’s past and gives the character a little more depth. Not only that, the movie really drives home the importance of the Winter Soldier to this entire plot, which is a great way of displaying continuity. It wouldn’t make sense for the events of the previous film to be ignored in this one.
2. Two Post-Credits Scenes!
I can never seem to understand people who immediately leave the theater when the credits roll at a Marvel movie. Maybe it’s just me, but missing post-credits scenes is like watching an incomplete film. Captain America: Civil War has not one, but TWO sequences after the initial credits roll. One takes place mid-credits, and then you’ll have to wait a while longer for the scene after the credits. Trust me, both scenes are worth the wait and are by far some of the most significant post-credits sequences in the Marvel lineup.
1. For Once, It Didn’t Focus On the Future
One of my pet peeves with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how fixated the movies are on future events. It’s always about Thanos or is somehow driven towards that arc. I get it, Infinity War is the culmination of this gargantuan series and needs to be addressed, but focusing on it too much makes the present seem insignificant. Captain America: Civil War hints at the impending storm to come without distracting the audience at all. We’re all aware that something big is brewing on the horizon, but right now we’re just happy to be focusing on this war between two of our favorite heroes.
There’s so much that these movies have to offer that they don’t have to always hint at Thanos. I like how Civil War keeps things grounded and emphasizes on the problems at hand instead of the catastrophe that is to come. By making those simple choices, the filmmakers allowed us to enjoy the current storyline for what it is, right now, without having to think about the Infinity War too much. Time for that will come, and I wouldn’t mind them hinting at Thanos when necessary, but Captain America: Civil War is amazing enough as a compact, contained film and I’m extremely happy with how it turned out.