By their nature, comic book movies are not supposed to be candidates to be epic, memorable films. They are meant to be in the toy and candy aisle of the movie theater supermarket, instantly filling or instantly fun, but ultimately something you put down when it’s time to get serious about nourishing your mind or serious about nourishing your body.
Only “Captain America: Civil War,” the year’s first satisfying “big” super hero film, succeeds as a melodrama; succeeds as major, big, over-the-top action movie; succeeds in setting up Marvel’s next wave of films in ways DC could only have hoped for — and,
ultimately, succeeds as the best superhero movie ever made, and maybe just maybe, one of the top 10 films of the year.
It’s really that good.
Marvel has finally found the right mix of action, acting, drama and combined them with a more believable plot this time. It’s not the megalomaniac trying to take over the world (a la Ultron) or trying to invade it (a la Loki in Avengers I). It does give fans a taste of the hero v. hero action they seem to long for, in ways that Batman Vs. Superman failed to deliver.
Marvel also makes certain to show the consequences of our heroes actions and show their remorse for them, and in as realistic terms as possible for “enhanced humans,” set up real life consequences and ultimately rules.
The world’s governments feel the Avengers are abusing their power and hurting innocents. They want to control when and who the Avengers fight. A group led by Iron Man decides to capitulate. A group led by Captain America does not.
Ultimately, the teams face off in an abandoned airplane hanger in the movie’s longest and best action sequence. Seeing Ant Man turn into Giant Man is, well, awesome.
Throughout the film, the action sequences are phenomenal and even though I felt like I was watching more of an Iron Man movie that a Cap movie at times — Robert Downey Jr is just that good — this film just shines. The plot builds, the tension grows and then Chadwick Boseman comes crashing through every scene as Black Panther with a presence and panache that is just begging for a Black Panther movie. But then, so does the new teen-age Peter Parker.
Spider Man’s scenes with Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark are among the best of the movie and provide, in a very serious toned film, a bit of levity among the action. Spider Man’s familiar rambling-while-fighting is also welcome and his boy-like ambivalence and surprise at his co-horts abilities was fun to watch.
And did I say the acting was very believable? At least for a movie about a bunch of people who can fly, phase through solid objects, manipulate living energy and wear 500-pound iron suits that fit like tights and can levitate and project energy blasts.
But, by now you want to know the plot. I really don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say it’s built around a brilliantly schemed plan to divide the Avengers and get them to fight one another, brought about from events from past films, and it also involves Captain America’s long lost buddy, Bucky Brooks, a la Winter Soldier, and Cap’s seemingly never-ending battle to save his 100-year-old bud (if you don’t get the reference, just see the film).
The film does leave us with some questions, especially around Captain America’s clean-cut future, and yes, it does include not one, but two post-credit scenes, so be sure to stick around.
To not spoil them, I’ll say this: if you don’t get the point that Marvel is pointing to its future with Civil War, these will drive that point home.
And if this is Marvel’s future, we won’t be missing Cap and Iron Man and Thor too much when, and if, they’re gone.
The bullpen is stacked. And waiting.