I’m gonna hate myself for it, but I have to make a direct film comparison here. Captain America: Civil War had everything that Dawn of Justice lacked: heart, humour and humanity. Without the raw, destructive power of someone like Superman or Wonder Woman, and with Hulk missing in action, Civil War had to rely on brilliantly choreographed (and often brutal) action sequences to keep the audience engaged through the whole two-and-a-half hours. On its own that wouldn’t have been enough, but woven through the mass destruction of property and a fairly impressive body count, we had a story of friendship, guilt, sacrifice and betrayal.
The stoic relationship between the Captain and the Winter Soldier; the confusion of emotion suffered by the Vision; the erosion of friendship and trust between the Captain and Tony Stark; Stark’s loss of faith in himself: it was all surprisingly deep stuff that was as equally gripping as the superhuman wrecking show going on around it.
There were a lot of characters in this. In fact I wondered why Captain America got top billing; it could have easily been called Avengers: Civil War given how they managed to cram in equal screen time for everyone.
And welcome to Tom Holland in his first outing as a very youthful Spider-Man! (Seriously, Stark – you bring a kid into a fight like this?).
Holland stole just about every scene he was in, which bodes well for his solo outing later next year.
Holland wasn’t the only newcomer: Chadwick Boseman takes up the mantle of the Black Panther, warrior-king of a technologically advanced African nation. Another solo planned for 2018. Wow.
And Disney/Marvel seemed to have cracked the problem of demonstrating facial expressions when their actors have to wear full face masks. I refer you to Exhibit A:
I first noticed this while watching Deadpool: a bit of clever animation around the eyes of the mask gives a hint of what’s going on his Deadpool’s incredibly warped mind. The same trick was used for Spider-Man and the Black Panther in Civil War. Very impressive, very effective.
Okay where was I…? Yes! The movie! Civil War is very long, but that’s because the director took the time to explain why each character was there. Risky, but it paid off. The problem I had with Wonder Woman’s appearance in Dawn of Justice is that I had no idea where she’d come from and what she was doing. It gave the impression that they’d shoehorned her in during the final edit: not good.
But Civil War did take it to the very edge: there were so many characters and so many intracies between them that I wondered if the audience – the folk who aren’t comic book fans –would get a little bit lost. It was an ambitous outing that worked on many levels, but it sailed very close to being a bit too ambitious.
Still, I loved it. The best Captain America movie so far, which is why I’m going to give it… nine out of ten.