This movie is the way that you’re supposed to make a “Vs.” movie. What has continued to surprise and impress me about the Marvel movies is how grounded they feel, despite watching a movie about comic book superheroes punching their way through heavily populated cities. Civil War continues in this vein, especially in the conference scene, in which Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross is showing the assembled members of the avengers (see what I did there?) the view of the people on the ground during their confrontation. It was well done, if a little heavy handed.
The Captain America movies have been the benchmark for political and social themes of the Marvel serial movies, but the filmmakers have done an excellent job of providing viewers a sense of the gravity of the situation, while keeping the action up throughout the film. All said, this gives the viewer and excellent vehicle to get a feel for the state of the Marvel world as a whole. For some, the presence of the other Avengers throughout the movie made this feel more like Avengers 3 than a Captain America movie, but as the movie is focused primarily on Captain America’s moral stance versus that of Stark, with the underlying concerns that the Avengers would become the tool of politics, and the resolution of the Winter Soldier story arc. Although this movie fit extremely well in the overall Avenger/marvel serials.
The presence of a few new faces, while buzzed about since the announcement of the movie, were handled with varying levels of success. Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) stole the show with every line. While Tom Holland’s Spiderman felt a bit shoe-horned into the movie. While Ant-Man’s post credit scene prior to the release of Civil War resolved this for him, the introduction of Black Panther was exceedingly well done, and has me looking forward to his announced stand-alone movie with cautious optimism.
All of the actors brought their considerable skills to this movie, turning what could have easily have been a standard superhero slugfest into something significantly more engaging. Nowhere is this more evident than Jeremy Renner’s return as Hawkeye. Despite having little screen time, compared to several other characters, he continues to bring a sense of gravity to his role. If the character of Hawkeye returns to retirement for upcoming movies, I’ll be a little disappointed.
The inclusion of Colonel Zemo (Baron Zemo in the comics) played by Daniel Brühl, unfortunately was a bit of a forgettable villain, especially considering the rich history of the character and the excellent portrayal by Brühl. This version of Zemo was heavily altered from the original source material, and aside from a few moments that were needed to motivate the heroes of the story, was almost unnecessary to the greater story as a whole and felt like a waste of an actor with impressive skill.
Lastly, this movie does present a significant concern for the Marvel movies going forward. The same feeling of being grounded that has helped make these movies so consistently good, may end up being a significant hurdle for the upcoming Infinity storyline. While the initial battle for New York was an alien invasion, the alien part of this was only really present during the battle itself. Since the initial movie, the Captain America, Avengers, Iron Man and related movies have all been focused on human villains and earthly concerns. Suddenly switching gears to focus on Thanos (You know, the big purple guy in the golden armor?) may feel very out of place in the greater Marvel universe and will need to be handled with extreme care.