Captain America: Civil War ★★★★

The big question being raised by many going into Captain America: Civil War was whether this was going to be Avengers 2.5 or truly a Captain America centered film. At the end of the day, I would have to say it's kind of in the middle, and it draws that line as well as if not better than any Marvel movie previously has.

Starting with the positive, this film creates stakes and establishes true consequences better than any of the previous films. Of course due credit has to be given to solid characterizations and threading of narratives that have been done through previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to allow such emotional stakes to reach their full potential, but the execution of bringing in characters and telling a loaded story is done extremely well in this film. There are so many characters that come in and out of this film, and for the most part it never feels forced thanks to the solid direction of the Russo brothers.

The strength of these Marvel films, whether the films themselves are good or mediocre, is the characterization of their heroes and the dynamic that they create between these characters. This is done excellently in Civil War. The dynamic between Captain America, Falcon, and the Winter Soldier, especially the later two, was tons of fun. Between Vision and Scarlett Witch, even Hawkeye and Scarlett Witch had their moments. But the scene stealers were without a doubt Iron Man and Spider-Man. As someone who has grown tired of the many entries of Spider-Man films over the last 15 years, I am extremely excited for the new film set to come out next year. But more on him later.

Creating such great character dynamics, as well as strong emotional stakes, allows for the action sequences and set pieces to have even greater weight to them. And yes, it's true. The airport sequence is one of the most entertaining action scenes I have seen from any film in recent memory. I literally had a gigantic smile on my face for the entire twenty minutes seeing all of the individual battles take place. Spider-Man once again stole the show here, as did Ant-Man who I haven't mentioned previously but was hilarious in his small role, daresay even funnier and more entertaining than he was in his stand alone film. And I haven't mentioned Black Panther either, who's characterization and fight sequences was also something I found to be very entertaining. In essence there are a lot of superheroes in this film but everyone has their time to shine.

But the true standout of this film for me lied between the battle, both ideological and physical, involving both Captain America and Iron Man. These two are the leaders of the Avengers, and their stances/differences are both not only expressed well but done to where one can sympathize with both sides. And by the climax of the film I found myself distraught at what they both brought themselves to.

Despite all of this praise I do have some criticism for the film. The score is pretty disappointing, it's bland and doesn't add anything to the film. I'm still a little turned off by the extremely dull looking composition and cinematography of these Marvel films, although there were a few shots in this particular film which I liked a lot. And Black Panther and Scarlett Witch's accents really bothered me. Martin Freeman's casting also took me out of the film a bit. And I honestly wish the film had the guts to end a little more ambiguously, not doing so kind of detracted from the full emotional impact of the climax.

That being said I definitely feel that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has peaked with this film, a buildup of characters and stories that has taken place over several years. I applaud the decision to have a villain with smaller, more personal, and clear motivations. And the character dynamics as well as action sequences have never been better. This film raises important issues and themes regarding action vs consequence, the true nature of power and control, vengeance, and guilt. And it is one of the strongest entries in the superhero sub-genre that I have seen in a long time.

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