Batten down the hatches, tighten those Web-shooters and charge up that arc reactor, because with a resounding “ding” Marvel’s thirteenth entry in it’s ever expanding cinematic universe hurled that red, white and blue shield as hard as they could and hit the mother of all fucking bulleyes.
As I’m sure we’re all aware of now CA:CW loosely adapts the Mark Millar comic blockbuster of the same name where all of Marveldom’s finest draw lines in the sand because of a new law passed restricting the useage of highly destructive super beings but what returning Cap directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done is somehow converge almost everything that has occurred in the previous twelve movies into a massive tale of international espionage that succeeds in being a far better Avengers movie than Avengers: Age Of Ultron could ever hope to be.
Star spangled villain smasher Steve Rogers (aka. Captain A-bloody-merica) leads his team of new Avengers into knock-down drag-out scrap in Lagos against an old antagonist with decidedly mixed results. The good news is that after some genuinely rousing action beats, the day is “technically” saved – I say technically because in an attempt to use her swirly whirly Hex powers, the Scarlet Witch (aka. continuously tormented super youth Wanda Maximoff) sends a suicide bomber careening into the side of a building, killing innocent people visiting from the secretive nation of Wakanda. This proves to be the last straw and the world’s governments rise up after this latest example of the super team “Godzilla-ing” very public areas and thus the Sokovia Accords are brought into being; an attempt to bring the Avengers to heel under a governing body who would sign off on their heroing. Steve says nay, seeing it as a violation of human rights; Tony Stark however, says yay with his recent string of personal traumas suggesting that putting the Avengers in check can only be a good thing. As this arguement gains momentum and the Avengers start to pick sides, as shadowy mastermind is moving behind the scenes to target the Winter Soldier, Cap’s brain washed war buddy who is framed for a bombing that leaves the king of Wakanda dead and his son, T’Chala, seeking vengence against the former Hydra agent. In fairly short order, things start to unravel… big time, and battle lines are drawn as Stark and Rogers recruit the split Avengers and newcomers into their ranks for an anticipated show down. With friends, comrades and even lovers on opposite sides of the argument (Wanda and Vision, sittin’ in a tree…), can earth’s mightiest heroes possibly weather the superbeing shit storm to come?
So I’m just gonna come right out and say it… Captain America: Civil War may have the best script the MCU has ever produced thanks to the truly bewildering balancing act the movie manages to pull off while retroactively clearing up any gripes (the excessive destruction is addressed as a plot point) AND being a working Captain America sequel AND tying up lose ends from many previous movies AND setting up future movies AND providing origin stories for two huge characters (we’ll get to them later) AND it manages to accomplish all this and manage to be an uncluttered, amazingly trim thrill ride.
It’s nothing short of miraculous and the huge cast (which ALL have something to contribute with no one being left in the shade) gives proceedings a weighty feel that not only surpasses Joss Whedon’s previous assembling work, but brings to mind more sprawling, “sophisticated” movie experiences like The Godfather or Heat. The reoccurring characters get to stretch their wings (literally in the case of a frequently airborne Anthony Mackie) with Steve trying to reignite his bromance with his lethal ex-friend which means that most of the surviving cast from his previous adventure are all present and correct – but the appearance of the other Avengers bolster things hugely with a guilt-ridden performance by Robert Downey Jr. ranking as his best MCU turn from peering out from Iron Man’s HUD with genuine pain seeping out from beneath those rat-a-tat-tat wise cracks.
The fact that the film has room for all these arcs and yet still has room to comfortably fit, not one but two, full fledged origin stories in it’s running time is impressive enough, but the fact that they’re both total scene stealers is utterly stunning. Both the arrival of mysterious and totally badass Black Panther (an insanely noble Cadwick Boseman) and the glorious return of The Amazing Spider-Man (Tom Holland making nervous an art form) is comic book history in the making, setting them up to such a degree that their future solo movies were free to hit the ground running at a full sprint without the need of any saggy origin stories. In fact every scene with our brand new (on loan from Sony) Peter Parker actually made me wanna cry with joy – something I haven’t felt since 2004 with the release of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
Speaking of Spider-Man 2, the prize that movie once held for best comic book action sequence has just been topped. As much as I love that train fight, the central battle royale at a Berlin airport pips it for pure joy as the debates come to an end and our heroes start trading well aimed blows instead of well thought out arguments. It’s an utterly glorious geek-out that contains more quips, surprises and childlike wonder in one sequence than a lot of superhero movie barely manage in their entire runtime – watch Spidey spar with Cap, Black Panther with Hawkeye and witness as a cameoing Paul Rudd emerges as (a literally) towering MVP thanks to one of the greatest MCU moments of all time!
It’s even another feather in the cap of the filmmakers that even after this super satisfying blowout of meta humans slapping the living crap out of each other, the film manages to successfully shift gears and land a massive downer of an ending as the shifty plans of the shadowy plotter played by Daniel Brühl come to fruition and create an absolute gut-wrencher of a twist that elicited genuine horror from the MCU faithful the first time they saw it.
As a near flawless blockbuster experience as your gonna get, it became obvious that the Russo Brothers were the perfect choice to both open and close Marvel’s Phase 3 (not counting the epilogue of Spider-Man: Far From Home of course) with the two part, box office busting Infinity War and Endgame combo by skipping over a superhero community that Whedon was hoping to evoke and instead making it a damn universe.
Best Marvel movie ever? Try best fucking comic book movie ever, it’s definately at least up there thanks to the impossible laundry list of geek shit and genuinely stirring plot pointd they manage to pull off.
Nothing to Avenge here, people – we’re aaaall good.