“Captain America: Civil War” makes up for Marvel’s busts
THE SANTA CLARA
May 12, 2016
Now that a full year has passed, I think we can all admit that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was a bloated, confused mess of a movie. We tried our best to justify it—praising the cast chemistry and visuals—but the fact of the matter is that the writing was lazy, the character motives were murky and the general spectacle of the film did not reflect its 250 million dollar budget.
Any way you slice it, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was a disappointment—so much so that it convinced Joss Whedon that he no longer wanted to write and direct superhero movies.
Marvel treaded water the rest of 2015, releasing the sporadically enjoyable but ultimately dissatisfying “Ant-Man” and the horrendous “Fantastic Four” reboot. After close to a decade of dominance, Marvel seemed to be slipping. They owed the world an apology.
Fast forward to May 5—the premiere of “Captain America: Civil War,” Marvel’s make-or-break film.
If I am right in assuming that “Civil War” is Marvel’s apology for the let-downs of 2015, then by God, all is forgiven.
As the title suggests, “Civil War” splits the Avengers into two groups: Team Captain America and Team Iron Man. The former joins together to resist the United Nations’ newfound desire to regulate superhero intervention in global conflicts, while the latter, specifically Tony Stark, thinks the Avengers “need to be put in check.”
It’s a high-concept, slam-dunk premise that is executed to perfection, mostly due to the work of the cast. In particular, the performances of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America clash and compliment each other relentlessly throughout the film.
Downey, firing off one liners like bullets from an uzi, captures the fragility of Tony Stark’s massive ego and how it conflicts with his otherwise pragmatic instincts. Evans, on the other hand, is the moral center of the film, always trying to do the right thing even when others disagree.
The two actors’ performances remind me of the performances of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Like Depp’s Jack Sparrow, Downey’s Stark is a self-centered antihero, who wins over the audience with his sleazy charm. Evans’ Rogers, like Bloom’s Will Turner, is the less exciting lead, but solicits more relatability and empathy from the audience.
Like Depp and Bloom before them, Downey and Evans are crucial to their franchise and their relationship humanizes this film about superheroes.
The other characters, both old and new, all deliver fine performances and are each given their moment to shine. The deliberate pacing and tight construction allow the ensemble to fully develop, creating intriguing, high-stakes motives.
The undeniable breakout, however, is 19 year-old Tom Holland, who combines geekiness, gentility and Downey Jr.-esque wisecracking in his performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
Though he only stared in a handful of scenes, Holland’s Spider-Man certifies himself as the funniest, most interesting, most faithfully adapted on-screen Spider-Man to date—not that past competition is all that stiff.
“Civil War” truly comes together when Teams Captain America and Iron Man battle it out at an airport. The scene is well over 15 minutes long, but flies by in an instant. History will prove this scene as one of the best in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe—it’s delightfully written, beautifully choreographed and sets the stage for the major twist in the final act (which I won’t spoil).
The film is not without its drawbacks. I grew tired of the half-baked, philosophical musings that various Avengers spewed as they pensively stared off into the distance. Additionally, I found the main villain of the film, Helmut Zemo—played by Daniel Bruhl—to be caught somewhere between unnecessary and underutilized.
Regardless, “Captain America: Civil War” is likely the most entertaining movie you’ll see this summer. Part popcorn flick, part political thriller, “Civil War” rewards moviegoers for suffering through the let-downs that Marvel released in 2015. It’s what “Avengers: Age of Ultron” should have been, it’s what we’ve been waiting for and it’s what we’ve deserved.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.