In Captain America: Civil War, the latest in a long line of superhero movies, Marvel has once again shown its ability to present comic book characters in an adult setting. With the previews showing the appearance of countless heroes from prior Avengers movies, and rumors of even more characters appearing, there was some question as to whether or not this film would just be a de-facto Avengers 3. Luckily, this was not the case. While other characters have major roles throughout the film, the attention is always centered on Captain America. The plot itself, which walks through the breakup of the Avengers in a surprisingly realistic way, never strays far from Cap, which makes the film stronger in the long run.
Clearly, a major goal of the film was to make the movie more realistic and mature, moving away from the black and white, good guy versus bad guy narrative of classic comic book movies of the past. No longer do heroes and civilians alike walk away from explosions unscathed. In this film, people die, many times at the hands of the “good guys” the audience is supposed to root for. Marvel’s on-screen superheroes no longer fight supervillains, but each other instead, giving the movie a more grownup feel. The characters face ethical dilemmas involving innocent deaths, familial guilt, and especially loyalty to friends, while the safety of the world hangs in the balance.
Though Civil War shone with masterful side characters—both Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man knocked their appearances out of the park—it would be remiss not to mention the masterful performance that Chadwick Boseman delivered as the Black Panther, a new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In only a brief period of screen time, the Black Panther made great strides as a character, and raised a great deal of excitement for his stand-alone film, to be released in 2018, just a few months before Avengers: Infinity War – Part One.
The film, however, was not without flaws. Perhaps the greatest of which was the persistent assumption that all viewers had a full understanding of prior plot points from each Marvel movie and comic book. If one were to watch this movie without having seen the prior Captain America films, or even the Avengers and Iron Man films as well, much of the plot would become extremely confusing. This prevents the film from being as enjoyable for a casual, rather than hardcore, fan.
Another issue with the film is its lack of clear climax or ending. While it was no secret that this movie would set up the next phase of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, it was nonetheless disappointing to sit through a two-and-a-half-hour film and not feel a real sense of conclusion at the end. The main superhero battle, which pitted the Avengers against each other, also felt much less serious and dangerous than the rest of the film, preventing the scene from reaching its full potential.
Even with a few flaws to the film, Captain America: Civil War is a well-made movie comparable to the best of the Marvel films so far. It successfully achieves its goal of generating a great deal of excitement for the next few installments in this series.