This article does NOT contain spoilers about Captain America: Civil War, so please enjoy!
The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived! The first fantastic superhero film of the year hits theaters tonight. The long-awaited Captain America: Civil War (abbreviated from here on out as CACW) is blasting onto the silver screen to start the summer movie season with a massive bang. If you had lost faith in superhero movies after seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS), don’t fret anymore. Marvel and the Russo brothers have found a way to save the genre at the perfect time. CACW is the movie fans have been dreaming of and should be extra excited to see. It’s awesome on every level, and the IMAX Arri Alexa 65 camera brings new stunning action footage to incredible new levels. Below is a list of my top eight reasons (with no spoilers!) why CACW destroys its competition, BvS.
But really, who thought it wouldn’t?
8. There is no true villain.
One of the most stereotypical aspects of the superhero genre is to have a central villain for our good guys to fight and ultimately defeat in the film. The role of the villain is usually the most common way to keep the plot moving and is often the driving force of the story. CACW decides to break the mold by not committing to having a real villain. Sure, there are two minor “villains” that pop-up briefly, but their characters don’t keep the story moving. (Okay, granted, one of these characters does help start an epic fight, but is not a true villain yet.)
In my opinion, the true villains of the film are the Avengers themselves. They are their own worst enemies, as no one can seem to win the mind games they play with themselves. Much like how Tony Stark went through a mental breakdown in Iron Man 3, most of the characters in CACW face a similar problem. With no one being mentally stable, cracks are easily formed and fighting ensues. The groups fight themselves rather than others, so there isn’t the typical one figure that they join together to destroy. They each feel that their opinions on the matters of the plot are correct, which makes them all adversaries to the other side.
This style worked much better than the other Marvel films because the concept didn’t feel forced — it was very natural. It makes sense for this rift to happen eventually, which is why the story works so well. In BvS, Lex Luthor tries to play puppet-master, which leads to some terrible sequences that are an utter disaster. Batman and Superman are forced to comply and act out his wishes, and the audience can most certainly feel that power struggle. The Avengers don’t have to play the role of heroes in CACW, leaving them to act by their own free-will instead of by a control-freak monster’s will.
7. IMAX Arri Alexa 65 Camera = beautiful visuals.
Did anyone feel like they couldn’t see what was happening during the minimal fighting in BvS due to some choppy camera work? Well, thankfully Marvel knows how to make the most out of their action scenes and used a great new technology to capture every tiny detail. CACW directors Anthony and Joe Russo dabbled with the IMAX Arri Alexa 65 camera for a few scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and liked it so much that they elected to use it again for CACW. They made a fantastic choice because the clarity and precision that the picture this camera gets is incredible.
It’s very clear which scenes are shot with the new camera because the action moves so quick that we would not normally be able to catch all the movements clearly. The Alexa camera allows stunning, crystal clear images of surroundings and characters in real time, even when the action is moving at superhuman speeds. The level of detail is a lot to take in and is a little hard to adjust to, but it’s impressive. You will know what I mean about ten minutes into CACW when the first big action sequence occurs. Keep an eye out for the first fight that Black Widow is in, because the camera work is great and doesn’t miss a single, tiny movement she makes. The use of the new camera in CACW makes me excited for the Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2, which will be filmed in their entirety with the Alexa camera.
What good is a group of superheroes if they can’t fight together? CACW introduces us to a few new characters, whom the core group of Avengers hasn’t previously met (more on this later). One might think that this would cause some chaos when they all fight, but all the heroes work very well in conjunction with each other, and the new arrivals fit right in with the rest of the bunch in terms of communication and teamwork. The best part of the groups is their willingness to work together and listen to what everyone is saying in order to get the best results.
The airport sequence, which is teased in the trailer, is our first look at how the two sides work together. There are some great feats of teamwork present, which show how deep the trust runs within the groups. What’s more, no matter what the two sides’ differences are, they all are still aware that they are on the same side on some level. No one is trying to murder the other in cold blood, unlike BvS. In that movie, Batman and Superman fail to realize that they are both trying to be good guys and are fighting for the same cause. Their judgement is clouded by their lack of understanding of one other. Instead of seeing potential allies, they see each other as rivals, and Lex Luthor takes advantage of this weakness and exploits it to get them to do his dirty work of taking each other out.
The whole nonsense of BvS could have been avoided if they took a second to think about what was happening. They can’t even work together at the end to destroy Doomsday. Instead, Batman is a coward and leaves Superman and Wonder Woman by themselves. Great way to start off the Justice League! This is where CACW is superior, as the characters who don’t know each other don’t try to destroy each other immediately. Everyone joins the cause they believe in, but knows that they need to stick together to fight common enemies down the line. They know mass destruction is pointless because they need all the help they can get if random aliens decide to attack again.
5. There is an actual reason to fight.
BvS doesn’t offer us a valid reason for the titular characters to have a five minute fight-to-the-death and then randomly stop to become best friends. That whole idea and execution was the worst part of the film, in my opinion. Thankfully, CACW gives the Avengers real reasons to fight. My point here will be short in order for me to not give away the central reasons for the rift. There are some nice surprises to the plot that give the characters a valid argument to attack one other, and it all makes sense by the end, adding to the next stories to be told. This is not a one-and-done type of disagreement.
The history between the characters gives the new story a lot of validity. The timing is perfect, and the tension between characters has been on the rise. There are legitimate reasons to fight, unlike BvS which gave us a sloppy script that was poorly timed. That story could have worked better if the movie had established history between the characters and their conflict. CACW is also much better in the reason-to-fight department because the action lasts the entire film. It isn’t thrown in for twenty minutes at the end; it is constant, which leads me to...
4. Lots and lots of action.
If you haven’t gotten your superhero action fix in a while, then CACW is what you should crave. It kicks off with Avenger action right away and doesn’t stop until right before the end credits role. If I had to make a rough estimate, I would say CACW is about 85% fight scenes and 15% pure dialogue. This is awesome because the concept of the film is that a rift forms, and everyone fights for their cause. CACW lives up to its name because there is an actual civil war occurring in the group, and it keeps occuring for two hours! BvS doesn’t live up to its name because there is barely any Batman versus Superman. A measly five-minute sequence at the end doesn’t cut it. It’s hard to believe that BvS is a superhero movie when there is barely any fighting involved. Captain America, Iron Man, and crew duke it out the entire film, which most certainly satisfied my action cravings.
The superhero genre should be focusing on the fighting because at the end of the day, that’s what the audience will remember most. You don’t really think about the long monologues that the characters deliver. You talk about the crazy action or the lack of action. There are plenty of great fight scenes to talk about after watching CACW. Tell me your favorite fight moment in the comment section below.
3. Insane choreography and stuntwork.
I feel like the Marvel stunt people try to up the ante with every new release. The stunt coordinators have outdone themselves this time, with awesome moves that we haven’t seen before. All the great scenes in the movie were masterminded by the fight choreographer James Young, who previously was the fight choreographer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’d like to give a big round of applause to him for creating some amazing sequences for CACW. Every fight looks incredible and has action that fans have only dreamed of.
CACW’s fights allow us to see our favorite characters go head-to-head briefly, with each trying to exploit the other’s weaknesses. This wouldn’t have been successful without some incredible stunt coordinators and Young. The action only gets better as the film progresses, making these action scenes instant classics. I don’t think I need to say anything about the lack of choreography in BvS; the film spoke for itself.
2. The tone of the film.
In typical Marvel fashion, CACW is very light and comical. The major difference between BvS and CACW is the tone. BvS starts off on the wrong foot by making most of the scenes incredibly dark, in both color and dialogue. CACW takes place in brighter locations, which automatically sets a much more relaxed tone. The history that the characters have also comes into play here, as they casually throw one-liners at each other to keep things playful. The events of CACW never get too serious to the point where it seems uncomfortable. There’s always a hidden joke or comedic relief placed at the right moment.
This film also explores some new relationships and bromances between its characters, leading to more comedy. Marvel has done a fantastic job with Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and CACW to keep the tone light and filled with humor. This concept has worked exceptionally well so far and leaves audiences with a good feeling.
The only funny part of BvS is how terrible the whole thing actually is. Some of the comments and sequences are so ridiculous that they are easy to laugh at. There is the bare minimum of comic relief, which didn’t help to ease the mood. When all your characters are sulky, it’s easy to get turned off from watching. CACW keeps it interesting by using each character’s quirks to give the audience a brief break from the action. It’s great when Spider-Man is rattling off one-liners while fighting because you stop thinking about the insanity that’s occurring. The brief mental breaks keep the flow going nicely in CACW. DC needs some serious help in that department if they hope to succeed.
1. Character introduction and set-ups.
The number one reason why CACW beats BvS on every level is the perfect introductions and set-ups for the future. CACW introduces four new players to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in fashion. This is the first big-screen appearance for Black Panther, and the introduction of the new Spider-Man. Each character is given a good amount of screen-time, which helps to set up their solo movies. The new heroes show us their skills without having to give any backstory, which worked well because this wasn’t the time or place for it. Of course we all want to know more about these characters, but their stories will probably be revealed in their individual films.
By giving Black Panther and Spider-Man considerable roles in CACW, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has set up its next wave of films nicely. There’s a brief window into what these solo films might entail, which should help pique some more interest in the characters. They are both really awesome as well and don’t hold back their personalities or powers. On a side note, make sure you stay for the entire credits because in typical Marvel fashion, there are two end credit scenes.
I was a little worried about Spider-Man being rebooted again, but Disney has saved the character from total annihilation. If the new Spider-Man movie is reflective of how he acts in CACW, then it will be really good. The added bonus of Tony Stark being in Spider-Man: Homecoming will also help tie Spider-Man back into the rest of the storylines. Spider-Man is back to being a funny teenager who really doesn’t know what he’s doing. I have big hopes for the character after seeing the new and improved version.
There are two other character introductions that will probably come back to affect later stories. Both Martin Freeman and Daniel Brühl have joined the cast in roles that definitely could impact future films. It’s hard to say who has what contract and if either will appear again, but why bring in big name actors for minor roles? My guess is that both will play a bigger part in Marvel’s Phase 3.
At the end, CACW also sets up the next batch of Avengers films. Marvel has gotten quite good at using their current films to springboard the upcoming ones. The events of CACW will definitely impact the Avengers forever, and the effects that it brings for Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2 isn’t clear at this time.
BvS ultimately goes wrong in not creating a better set-up for The Justice League Parts 1 & 2. There was a brief window of opportunity to give us a glance at Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg. It would have been better for them to have actual cameos rather than a brief sighting on a computer screen. The opportunity to introduce the characters was missed, meaning that next year’s The Justice League: Part 1 will have a lot of explaining to do. It will ultimately be filled with too much backstory, like BvS, which will lead to storytelling failure again.
The only character that was set up well for the future was Wonder Woman because she actually had a role in the film. Her solo film, also out next year, was given some credibility in BvS. Who doesn’t want to see more of Wonder Woman now? And the ending of BvS didn’t really give us much to look forward to, except for the return of Superman. There was a forced line about creating the Justice League, but it didn’t feel like the group would come together naturally. The whole concept that Zack Snyder and crew have forged feels entirely forced, which wasn’t helped by the poor writing and acting. With a lack of set-ups, DC will never be successful.
At the end of the day, CACW is all about the action and staying true to its Marvel roots. Some people may say that they wish there was more story occurring like some of the other Marvel films, but it isn’t exactly necessary for the point that was trying to be made. Marvel should be modeling more films like CACW because they are fun to watch and give a lot of character insight. To watch the heroes go through pure human struggles brings it back down to Earth and makes it feel more authentic and relatable. The Russo brothers did a fantastic job of bringing everyone together without calling the film Avengers 3. It still maintains the heart and soul of the Captain America franchise, which makes Captain America: Civil War a winner.