It is impossible to talk about this film without first addressing the elephant in the room – Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Knowing they had to compete with this ‘Goliath’ of a movie, Feige and the team at Marvel undoubtedly decided this wouldn’t be a David and Goliath story but a..Goliath and Goliath story, twisting Captain America 3 into a clash of heroes, of ideologies, of legends; a movie that would challenge the, at that point, unquestionable success of Batman vs Superman. And with the fall of that first Goliath comes the imitator, a film that exists simply to compete, to reassert Marvels dominance over the Superhero genre. Does it succeed? Lets find out.
Captain America: Civil War is in many ways similar to Batman vs Superman but it surpasses it for one key reason – fun. Yes their are tears, bloodshed and bitter rivalries formed but both the characters and the audience are still allowed to enjoy themselves, this is a comic book movie meant to entertain, not be endured. While I must yet again praise the performance of Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, I am happy that this is still clearly a Captain America film with our focus and support behind him for the most part as we discover a deeper plot behind the titular civil war. The Russo Brothers prove once again that they can effortlessly blend the often silly superhero elements with a grounded world and serious tone, a feat I haven’t seen from any other director, Joss Whedon included. Civil War may not be as visually striking as Batman vs superman but it does feel more like a cinematic interpretation of a comic book; taking the fun and creativity but adding structure and, most importantly, believability.
One of the most talked about things from Civil War has been the airport sequence, highly marketed in the advertising and hailed by many as the ‘greatest superhero fight scene ever’. Well I am happy to say it lives up to the hype with an unrelenting energy that creates a coherent and visually exciting sequence whilst still giving each of the heroes a moment to shine amongst the chaos. As for the other anticipated aspect of the film, I have to say without a doubt that this is the most comic book accurate depiction of Spiderman yet, capturing the youthful nature that is so key to his character by casting the 19 year old Tom Holland in the role, a far cry from the 28 year old Andrew Garfield. Spiderman is given the perfect amount of screen time to excite and build anticipation for his own film without drawing the focus away from the primary conflict between Iron Man and Captain America. Daniel Bruhl gives a strong performance as the true antagonist, hidden from all of the marketing. Though he is a far cry from the Zemo of the comics, I appreciate the creation of a very human villain who, even if he wont be remembered much, still brought the right balance of pathos and menace.
Now there are problems. I found myself getting taken out of the movie frequently for 2 key reasons. Firstly, i found the first third of the film very jolting, each time I started to settle into a scene we would move half way across the world to another character then jump right back 4 minutes later. However, this was understandable, near unavoidable in a film with this many characters, so I cant criticise too harshly. I can, on the other hand, criticise the CGI, which was very disappointing for such a high budget feature. Maybe I have just been oversaturated but I found the effects very noticeable, especially with the unmasked Iron man, and extremely cartoonish when it came to both Black Panther and Spider man. However I suspect this may have been a result of a rushed schedule to release the film closer to its rival.
Civil War succeeds at everything Batman vs Superman failed – it remains an epic clash of titans whilst still having time for humour, excitement and, most of all, fun.