by Justin Guiao
Captain America: Civil War by the Russo brothers is the 13th film in Disney’s Marvel’s new cinematic universe. It’s strange to think that Marvel has been able to put out so many frankly similar films at extremely high budgets in this relatively short amount of time since the first Iron Man hit theaters. They continue to make money however, meaning many more of them are to come.
I had fairly high expectations for Civil War. I saw Fox’s Deadpool in theaters a month or two before which was my first visit to a theater in over two years. I was thoroughly impressed with Deadpool, and the raving critical reviews of the Civil War screeners led me to go to the theater once again. However, these heightened expectations may have damped my enjoyment somewhat. Even though I did enjoy it, I am probably going to continue holding out on going to the theater for any more blockbusters for a while and will just start waiting for Blu-rays. Regardless of all this, I did think Civil War was a good film, and I probably will see it again after it comes out on disk. It features a few firsts for a Marvel franchise 13 movies into its story, with Downey as Tony Stark showing up in a non-Iron Man or Avengers film for the first time, as well as the introduction of new characters to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Black Panther and Spiderman, both of which are unsurprisingly up for solo movies in the near future. It also features a large battle between many of the heroes, as well as some notable smaller bouts, in contrast to previous MCU team-up films where the heroes fight off endless hordes of weaker minions.
Unfortunately, I think Marvel is coming up to a point where they have too many heroes in their MCU. It has gotten to the point where there are so many that it seems silly to have a big crisis that only one hero deals with when we are aware that many other exist and operate relatively nearby. On the other hand, the big team up film that is Civil War almost feels like a bunch of promotional material for movies about the new heroes, as even after everything that happens in the film, at the end there are not any sizable rifts created between the heroes and everyone starts carrying on as normal, resulting in that feeling that little or no progress was made. Also, Marvel has been adherent to the thought of letting any of their heroes die. The fact that the audience knows this by now takes some of the intrigue and tension out of the film. We know how it’s going to end, just not how it’s going to get there. In spite of this, the Russo Brothers were able to create a film that stands out among the seemingly exponentially increasing amount of Marvel superhero films that have been coming out. While it doesn’t have the strongest plot that would make it stand out as a classic in the future, it does fulfill its purpose as an action blockbuster well. The special effects were top notch as always through these films along with excellent fight choreography (although Captain America definitely killed a majority of the people he fought. There is no way that would just knock them unconscious like the film made it seem, they’re dead).
I can’t say much for the sound of the film. This may be because I have been spoiled by Marvel’s production quality in the last near-decade, but it was just really more of the same. Loud explosions, extremely over exaggerated punches and hits, the same mechanical sounds from Iron Man, and fantasy-like mystical sounds from the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. While the sound was definitely high quality, you could tell that actors were the real stars and sound was just there to make them look better. The editing of the film was also impressive. I can only imagine how many cuts and scenes were filmed individually in the film. Even with such heavy amounts of CGI, there was plenty of practical effects used to make it seem more real, including most of the explosions. While the big fights were all CGI, the editing on the scene where two super humans are running down Bucky on a motorcycle really makes it seem like they’re outrunning all of the cars. The hand to hand combat, even between CGI’d head to toe Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, seemed fluid and believable. I don’t know too much about video editing, but I could tell that the people who worked on this film took pride in it and managed to do an excellent job.
For how many people have played Spiderman recently, I really liked this iteration. They portrayed him closer to his comic roots, a teenager with a quick wit and a loud mouth. The incessant chatter from him during the big fight scenes really brought forth what I think the original writers intended for the character. I didn’t really know what to think of the casting choice for Black Panther and really I still don’t, as I did not know much about the character.
With all the strong acting and effects, I really feel that the overall plot is the weakest thing in the movie. It seems like they were trying to cram too much into one movie, and the suspension of belief for the plot started to fade away in the process. The civil war comic story was extremely popular and very receptive to a movie version, but perhaps it could have used two movies. However, this didn’t matter too much during the film itself, as the actors, choreography, and special effects led the way once more for Marvel. With Civil War, Marvel has created another enjoyable and action-packed blockbuster to whet the appetites of long time comic fans for the introduction of more characters into the MCU.