“Captain America: Civil War”: Movie Review

Summary.

I’ve been known to defend DC films in the past because at heart, when it comes to Marvel versus DC, I was (and probably will) stubbornly at DC’s side of the equation. But alas, DC doesn’t have Kevin Feige and I’m quite certain that Marvel had paid him millions (if not billions). And even at that, he was probably still underpaid. That is how good he is in bringing all these stuffs together. Something that DC had tried hard to emulate but thus far, to a very little to no success.

As much as it pains me to say, “Civil War” is, at the point of this writing, the latest and the best Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date. Perhaps second only to Nolan’s Batman trilogy overall. It was that good.

Civil War Movie Poster

The inevitable comparison.

“Civil War” was built upon the premise that superheroes, even with their very best intention to save the many, in doing so (the saving) would inevitably result in collateral casualities. Some of the bystanders, especially those who had lost their loved ones are inevitably, will held the superheroes (again, with all their best intentions) responsible regardless that their actions had prevented a far bigger disaster. Even the most logical person could and would easily turned off their logic switch when losing someone they held dear and unleash the beast within them, so to speak.

This premise was already explored by “Dawn of Justice” released about just two months ago. In “Dawn of Justice,” the idea is represented by Bruce Wayne as he runs through Metropolis trying to save his employees while two Gods fought and wreak havoc to the city from above. His final say, as he held a child who had presumably lost her parent between the rumbles, was an angry look, an accusing stare toward the heavens. It was an effective scene, actually. I liked that.

In “Civil War,” this very same idea was represented by Daniel Brühl portraying the Villain in this movie, who had lost his family during “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” event. His final say was a quiet, reflective conversation with Chadwick Boseman and augmented by a subtle message shown on his phone screen. Now if the “Dawn of Justice”‘s Metropolis scene was an “effective” one, this scene in “Civil War” punch it in the face, trampled it to dust, blowing it to pieces, and scattered its remains to the four cardinal directions. Daniel Brühl’s character may not have a superpower (yet), but that made his character even more compelling. He earns my respect as one of the best Villain in the superhero genre films, perhaps second only to Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Another major difference between the two, as far as the basic premise involved, is that in “Dawn of Justice,” Bruce Wayne thinks he could beat a God. But in “Civil War,” Daniel Brühl’s character knows that he could not. And from that knowledge, came an understanding, and from there, wisdom. This gives “Civil War” a more humane perspective than “Dawn of Justice” and in turn, made it into a far more superior film.

Dense. A liquid dense.

Its natural. When you pack a whole lot of masked personas in one single movie, there would be a lot things going off at once. Added to that, the film also had to make space to introduce Black Panther (as well as his homeland, Wakanda) and to somewhat re-introduce Spider-Man into the fold. I was pleasantly surprised on how well they execute the transitioning between plot porgression and action set-ups. None of the action set-ups seems to be coming of the left-field (case in point: Batman’s future action set-up in “Dawn of Justice.” Now that is an example of an action set-up that coming in from the left-field). The big showdown in the airport we’ve seen in the trailer turns out to be not the final showdown (end of second act?). But rather than going downhill from there, the film goes even better. The final showdown, although much smaller in space (and participating party) felt even more great as it packs more emotional attachment to it.

The action set-ups were almost flawless. Everyone gets their time to shine and not just simply make things fly and blow and whatever. The airport scene was very well constructed that although there are more characters involved than fingers in my hands, the scene does not drag and more importantly, easy to follow. Really. Props to everyone masterminding that scene because that was truly an awesome work.

Again, it pains me to say it, but after this film, unless they could get someone like Kevin Feige, DC should re-pack they effort to bring their Universe together and concentrate on one-offs instead. Damn, Marvel just handed DC a mic drop they can’t came back from.

Why the Cap works.

When “The First Avenger” was announced, I was curious but skeptical. I mean, in my opinion, Captain America is almost as boring as Superman. Because just like Superman was, I had always associated Captain American with an embodiment of anything that was ideal, pure, and straight as an arrow. There was no gray in his views. Only Black and White, Right and Wrong. At least that is what I thought. Ambiguity was never in his character as you could always expect him to do the “right” thing.

“The First Avenger,” as far as I’m concerned, had never violate this character’s rule and yet, it was, an unexpectedly good entertainment.

Then came “The Winter Soldier.” Before “Civil War,” it was probably one of my top movie from Marvel Cinematic Universe. I liked “The Winter Solider” because of its simplicity, its grounded idea about privacy which, in our present, post-Snowden world, is increasingly becomes a very relevant issue. I also much prefer the hand-to-hand combat approach used in this series.

“Civil War” still follows this rule but with an increasingly better quality. Hand-to-hand combat? Check. Simple premise? Well, not necessarily “simple” but Check.

Many had pegged Robert Downey Jr. as an irreplaceable as Iron Man. Yes, he’s done a GREAT job donning Tony Stark personae. You could even say that Tony Stark is actually inspired by Robert Downey Jr. To be sure, the next actor who takes Iron Man suit would be scrutinized and compared extensively against him, but for me, personally, after the novelty that was the first “Iron Man” film, watching Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man had quickly worn off. I feel that Tony Stark in the first “Iron Man” and Tony Stark in “Civil War” hasn’t progressed that much. In a way, he is still a Robert Downey Jr-zed Tony Stark of old.

On the contrary, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is growing. Sure, Chris Evans might not have that much of a range but it actually helped the character. Like I said, Captain America is supposed to be a “boring” superhero. I can’t actually pinpoint the growing part, but his character from the first Captain America film all the way to this latest incarnation, is subtly different. You could actually feel him aging and gained more wisdom in the process and I had had a great joy in following his progression.

In this way, I feel like Chris Evans is actually more irreplacable as Captain America than Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. But, hey, to each his own.

What’s next?

It’s definitely going to get even harder to defend the DC films after this. However, while I’m excited for whatever Marvel had to offer next, I feel that unless they are going to slow down and make things smaller, it’s going to be hard to topple Civil War from the top. And since the next Avenger films will put the superheroes against Thanos, a literal out-of-this-world character, there’s probably no getting smaller for Marvel Cinematic Universe. But still, we have gone this far into MCU and I personally think that people aren’t going to stop investing their time in this universe anytime soon.