WARNING: SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
I was beyond words after I saw Civil War, and I mean that quite literally. All I could do to express my joy and relief that it lived up to the ridiculous hype and my own expectations was to repeatedly hit my friend sitting next to me on the arm while making unintelligible noises, and it stayed in my mind for a long time afterwards.
One particular aspect in which it delivers is the characterisation. One flaw of Age of Ultron, pointed out by several commentators, was the lack of consistent characterisation that matched what we’d previously seen of certain characters like the totally unnecessary forced romance. In Civil War, I was fully convinced by the decisions and actions of the characters, from Cap and Iron Man to new faces like Spiderman and Black Panther.
Iron Man is a personal favourite of mine, and his character beats were one of the few pluses of AOU, which are picked up on to my enormous satisfaction in Civil War. Tony Stark’s always been defined by his isolation and his struggle to cope with the aftermath of huge events, see Iron Man 3, compared to the relative stoicism of the soldiers he is surrounded by. I love how he isn’t made into the villain of this movie, but his motivations of guilt and an urge to prevent further and worse catastrophes are made perfectly understandable.
That leads on to another highlight of the movie, which is the almost perfect balance struck between adrenaline-pumping action scenes, light relief and significant character beats and interactions. Personally, I could have done with a few more emotional moments between Steve and Bucky, but the balance is, on the whole, excellent. The action sequences are interestingly choreographed: self-consciously ridiculous and brutally real by turn. The development of the relationship between Cap and Tony is handled in an interesting way, their antagonism in the movie being informed not only by their disagreement on this issue but past tensions as well. Steve’s final letter to Tony is particularly good as a reminder of their friendship as well as the division that’s grown between them by the end of the movie, and I’m intrigued to see how their relationship will progress in the future.
Marvel’s signature brand of sarcastic/deadpan humour is particularly well done in Civil War, and doesn’t come across as formulaic and forced as it has on occasion in the past. There are several laugh out loud moments, like the scene when Sam and Bucky sitting in the car acknowledge Steve’s kiss with Sharon with the same bro-nod, a moment straight out of a rom-com.
Also, Spiderman is perfect. His introduction, Tom Holland’s acting, the truncation of the tedious back-story we’ve heard a million times before and Tony’s belated realisation of oh shit he’s just a kid and maybe this is kind of irresponsible. In fact, all the minor roles are well done; T’Challa is badass, Ant-Man is hilarious, Wanda and Vision are fleshed out some more, even Clint gets a few good lines in.
The more I think about Civil War, it’s the small moments that stick out to me, like the aforementioned car moment, or when Tony tells Peter to go home to his aunt, or when T’Challa puts his helmet on the ground before approaching Zemo. It’s a combination of these tiny things and the broader idea of grey morality behind the whole movie that elevate it into something great, the revolutionary concept that both of these guys have a point and they can agree to disagree (kind of) by the end of the movie. The only dislikeable entity in the movie is the stereotypically invasive and controlling government and its obnoxious bureaucracy, represented by the former General Ross and Martin Freeman doing an American accent, and even they are motivated by legitimate concerns, though obviously we are meant to recoil at their heavy handed methods.
Captain America: Civil War is one of the best Marvel movies I have seen to date, getting better in my mind the more I think about it, and I would definitely recommend seeing it.