It’s hard to believe it, but we are now eight years into the movie experiment that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Starting with Iron Man, the comic book world has quickly taken over the multiplex with stories of superheroes, supervillains, and a bunch of regular people trying not to get killed in the crossfire. That last part is important since it is part of the operating question driving Marvel’s latest offering: Captain America: Civil War.
Although the movie just came out on Friday, the story began back in 2006, with a seven-part crossover series that pitted heroes against each other when the government decides to enact the Superhero Registration Act to control the increasing number of superhumans living in the country. On the one side, folks like Iron Man and War Machine are in favor of oversight, but on the other, Captain America leads the fight against what he believes to be government overstepping its bounds. (Captain Libertarian?)
The same story unfolds more or less in the film version, and it seems like the entire MCU has been building to this point. Starting with a successful but costly mission in Nigeria, the Avengers are called into question about their use of authority and who they answer to in the event of a crisis. Just like in the comics, Iron Man is for legislation (in the movie it’s the Sokovia Accords), while Cap is against it.
Since I don’t want to get into spoilers, let’s just say that the film explores these themes rather well. Unlike the other hero vs. hero film of the year (Batman vs. Superman), Civil War takes a more nuanced approach and ends on a rather ambiguous note. Can someone have too much power and still stay good? Well, it seems like there isn’t a right answer, or at least not one that is readily available. Both sides make good points, but ultimately they end in a relative stalemate.
What makes this movie engaging to watch is the rapid-pace action and the incredible fight sequences, of which there are a lot. What would probably be the film’s biggest downside is that it can’t seem to go more than five minutes without someone punching someone else. Notable highlights include the new Spiderman (welcome to the MCU Spidey!) and Ant-Man. Also, fans of Black Panther should know that the African King/Warrior held his own among the established elite, which makes his solo film much more enticing.
Overall, I would say that Civil War was captivating for all the right reasons, even if it was a little heavy on the action. Also, it’s nice that the MCU is starting to show the inevitable downside of all this superheroing, which makes the Universe seem much more authentic and believable.