The pressure on Captain America: Civil War lessened a little when it turned out that its main competition, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, really wasn’t that great. But even before that, if Marvel was at all worried then it needn’t have been.
It seems strange that a Captain America sequel would feel bigger and better than an Avengers team-up, but it really does. Before, our heroes were uniting to take down a common enemy. This time they are dividing to take down each other, and everything is a lot more dramatic because of it.
From a technical viewpoint, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been above par when it comes to action. That has never been in question; the best the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America have got to give always comes in the form of a boss battle of epic proportions. Marvel Studios is used to taking a swing and aiming for the stars.
But things feel a little different in Civil War. Suddenly, the action is brighter, cleverer and far more entertaining. There’s a lot more fighting than there usually is, but it’s not overloaded or repetitive. It’s just insanely fun. Whether it’s a high-speed chase, hand-to-hand combat or a citywide battle, everything this throws at us fight-wise is magnificent.
It’s difficult to pick out the cause of the action sequences’ sudden rise in quality, but it could have something to do with the fact that we’re also being bombarded with characters we’re unfamiliar with, namely T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), aka the Black Panther; Daniel Bruhl’s villainous Helmut Zemo and Peter Parker (Tom Holland), who happens to go by the moniker of Spider-Man.
Obviously, everyone knows who Parker is (if you don’t then you need to sort that out), but this shiny, younger version appears to breathe quite a lot of new life into the MCU. Even after only a couple of scenes with him, Marvel’s next phase – which will introduce characters like Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and the Inhumans to the movie-going audience – feels more within reach than it has ever been.
The inclusion of T’Challa also goes a long way towards keeping things fresh and unpredictable. Boseman himself is intriguing and extremely charismatic in the role, and he quickly proves to be complex, freaking awesome and a fantastic subject for a Marvel blockbuster.
With all the extra characters that have been brought in from every corner of the MCU, Civil War often relies heavily on gimmicks, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s easy to get fed up of the in-world references and Easter eggs, but it’s easier still to get caught up in a whirlwind of excitement at the sheer magnitude of the world that has been created here.
The film’s tone and themes feel a tiny bit darker and a lot more grown-up than usual, but the reaction it provokes is still one of giddy, childlike joy.
The combination of directorial duo the Russos’ eye for style and scenes of an epic nature and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s stunning script – character development, superhero quips and all – has resulted in something wonderful here. It’s big, flashy and extremely loud, but it’s also thoughtful, passionate and quite emotional in places. It doesn’t hold back at all. It knows the story it wants to tell, and it tells it wonderfully with characters you can understand, feel for and stand united behind.
Captain America: Civil War may not quite represent the best of what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer, but it’s definitely up there.