This is easily the best chapter in the main set of Marvel “sandbox” films – and by that I mean the films that feature their A-List characters like Iron Man, Captain America, etc. – with arguably the best script, best storyline and most real-world sensibilities we’ve ever dealt with yet.
As many other reviewers have noted, it starts out a bit slow as the storyline is being pieced together, and I will suggest that there are hidden story elements and clues about character’s motivations and loyalties that are revealed, but not yet resolved in this film which leaves us with more than enough threads to pull on in later installments of the franchise. [But I won’t mention what those are in this review. You’re welcome.]
To me, it plays out like a fascinating hybrid between the Bourne films and Iron Man, grounding the story and the conflict in common sense realities, throwing in sinister plots and unseen twists, and peppering us with cool gadgets and explosive action until we’re mesmerized by the final act.
If you’ve read the comics that this story is based upon, you’ll no doubt find yourself bracing yourself in certain places to anticipate what happens next, and all I can say is, sometimes your fears will be justified, and sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised when they zig rather than zag…at least I was.
All this, and I haven’t even talked about the action and giddy geek-tastic joy I felt seeing Vision, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Ant Man, Cap, Iron Man and the rest of the gang all onscreen at the same time. Without going into detail, let me just say that this film satisfies every possible bone in my nerdy little body and gives us the BEST versions of every single character. Hawkeye shines like never before, and finally acts and sounds like he does in the comics. Black Panther is breath-taking. Spider-Man is spot-on. Falcon – a character I could not possibly care any less about – is seriously showcased as an impressive character with real abilities that make him worthy to become Cap’s side-kicking partner. Heck, even War Machine has his moment and it’s great. Seriously.
I realize I should probably mention a few negatives from the film, to counter-balance all my gushing glee, but it’s a struggle to find anything to complain about. I guess I’m not happy with the younger, sexier Aunt May character – the older version from the Toby Macguire film is perfect in every way…but I think that’s about it for me in the complaint department.
As always, be sure to stay seated during the credits for two separate teaser clips that foreshadow a few of Marvel’s upcoming projects [and probably not the ones you’re expecting them to tease].
The Russo Brothers have proven themselves more than worthy to take the mantle from Whedon and Favreau, which is great news knowing that the next two Avenger’s films will be entrusted to their capable hands.
It’s hard to say if non-geeks or Marvel Movie fanatics would love this film as much as I did. An awareness of these characters and their past adventures together and alone [in their solo films] is pretty much essential, I think, to really appreciating some of the jokes, and unspoken glances between characters throughout the film. If you’re not brushed up on your Captain America and Iron Man film lore I’d highly recommend a mini festival to catch you up before you head into the theater to watch “Civil War”. It might not be essential to do so, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.
That brings up another element to the Marvel films which I really love – continuity between every film. Things that happen in “Iron Man” play out in “Captain America” and characters introduced in “Avengers” get further developed in “Ant Man”, etc. So the conversations we begin in this film will no doubt be continued in future films, and that ongoing character development is something every fan should appreciate.
Next up is “Doctor Strange” in November and I cannot wait to see where Marvel takes us next.
Overall, I cannot recommend “Civil War” enough. It succeeds on every level, for me, and leaves me wanting more – so much more – when the next installment comes around.