This is how you do a superhero team up movie right. It starts by being a good movie, regardless of it’s fantasy content. Then it ticks all the superhero boxes, and does so in an organic way. And let’s be clear: even though this movie is called Captain America: Civil War this is really another Avengers movie; Thor and Hulk aren’t in it, but they introduce Black Panther and Spider-Man, as well as conscript Winter Soldier, War Machine, Falcon, and Ant-Man from previous Marvel movies to fill out the ranks.
First of all, this is just a great ensemble film. It’s core is a powerful tale about the repercussions of military action on a devastating scale. The external repercussions are that the world demands that the Avengers be accountable and report to a United Nations panel that will direct them.
The internal repercussions are that half the team, lead by Tony Stark/Iron Man, feels that makes sense; oversight gives them both cover and legitimacy. The rest of the team, lead by Steve Rodgers/Captain America feels this will turn them into a political tool. They worry about being politicized, either by being asked to do the dirty work of a particular voting block or their hands being tied when the needs of the world citizens don’t match the desires of the ruling class.
This lends itself to a lot of both interpersonal tension and great action. Each side has honest, heart felt reasons for doing what they do, and while they respect and admire each other, they feel that to give in would only make things worse. You could make this about any real-world extra-national elite military team and have the same great set up.
Then it adds all the cool superhero goodness, the relationships we’ve come to know and respect, the introduction of new superheroes, the personal tragedies each has suffered that amplifies everything they feel and desire.
Since the last superhero movie I saw was Batman v Superman, I can’t help but say that this movie gets right everything that BvS gets wrong. Both movies are about the same length, but even though there are twists and asides and numerous scene and continent changes, Captain America feels fast (Michelle did feel it bogged down a bit in some of the talkier moments, however). During BvS, I looked at my watch, went to the bathroom, and basically contemplated my navel repeatedly.
Captain America introduces two new superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Spider-Man and Black Panther) in a completely organic way. BvS tries to introduce four new “metas” but does it in what is likely the most awkward possible way that any writer could have come up with (at one point in BvS, the action stops entirely so that Wonder Woman can watch online video of the other superheroes. And these superheroes have nothing at all to do with the movie. Seriously. I wish I were kidding).
Captain America was definitely a tense, and “heavy” story. This is not a simple “good vs evil” tale. And yet, as dark as this story gets, there’s never a sense that all is bleak and grim and hopeless. The characters laugh, the sun comes out, and there will be dawn. BvS is a non-stop sludge fest of bleakness. Neither movie ends with a fairy tale happy-ever-after but with Captain America you’re left excited about what comes next; with BvS, you’re dreading it.
I would recommend Captain America to everyone who enjoys military/political thrillers that are well written, well acted, well directed, with lots of fantasy action and effects. I hope Warner Brothers learns something from the heart and soul that Marvel manages to pour into their movies that was devoid from BvS. BvS had art direction with a very high production value, but that’s it.