A former comic geek Marvels at ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ a stark but welcome contrast from your average superhero film



Marvel’s latest film plays to the franchise’s strengths with a character-driven ensemble story that both satisfyingly completes a near flawless trilogy for one of its flagship characters, and begins a new chapter for almost every hero introduced in the films so far.

        Captain America’s (Chris Evans) latest film is based on the original “Civil War” comic event in 2006, which focused on the underlying theme of the conflict between freedom and security. It drew inspiration from real life events such as the Patriot Act and from the debate over the government’s increased surveillance of its citizens. As with its parent comic, the film is unique in that it focused more on the question of who was right, rather than who would win.

However, “Captain America: Civil War” further raises both personal and political stakes for its titular character by elevating the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) to a lead role. When the Sokovia Accords demand for government oversight of heroes impede Cap’s ability to help his old friend, he rebels against Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his own group of pro-oversight heroes to recruit his own faction to help him protect his friend, the Winter Soldier.

        Although the film essentially functioned as a third Avengers movie, it was very much Captain America’s story. In the previous movie, we saw Cap (Steve Rogers) face the infiltration of the governmental organization SHIELD by the terrorist group of HYDRA, motivated by the revelation that his best friend Bucky was alive and had been brainwashed as an assassin. Once again, Cap’s personal journey is defined by his relationships with his supporting cast, and the film does an excellent job of making that clear. Bucky’s role in the film shows how far Steve will go to do the right thing. Tony himself is almost a mirror reflection of the beliefs Steve had in the first film, and how far he has come. Even his friendship with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow demonstrates the strong sense of loyalty and trust Steve has with all these characters regardless of their side, particularly in the film’s final scene.

        The supporting cast had two obvious standouts in Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, and Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man. Black Panther had a very personal motive in the film that was established early, and which culminated in a satisfying emotional arc that both served as an origin story and delivered some of the most engaging action sequences yet. Spidey was true to form as an awkward but endearing kid trying to impress his fellow heroes, while managing to provide some of the most lighthearted moments in one of the tensest scenes. However, every character received satisfyingly strong development, aside from an admittedly weak villain operating almost exclusively in the shadows.

        Other than one moment between Steve and another character that didn’t feel earned, every scene and character in the movie seemed to move the story along in some way, with a conclusion that was honestly pretty sad yet nonetheless appealing. Although Steve and Tony have always had some conflict, their relationship has always been one built on both respect and trust. The film did an excellent job of making this crystal clear, while also bringing it crashing down. As a fan of both the “Civil War” comic and the film, I’m looking forward to seeing what the fallout will be in the future.

        I give this film a strong sat and a rainbow unicorn.


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