After watching Captain America: Civil War twice in two days, I think I am ready to decompress. The following is not simply a movie review, but a look at the massive impact this film has had not only in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, but on today’s culture as whole. Especially, us millennials who grew up on saturday morning cartoons filled with very characters portrayed in Marvel’s latest film.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS
“Captain America: Civil War or Cap 3 continues on with the story of Steve Rogers aka Captain America. After a series of catastrophes left behind the Avengers’ wake such as destroying New York, decimating the Nation’s Capital, and dropping a city on Sokovia, the world governments decide to hold the “enhanced individuals” accountable. With the help of Tony Stark and #TeamIronMan the Sevokia Accords are drafted up in which the Avengers would operate under government supervision. Cap, thinking that authority always has an agenda and believing the safest hands to steer are that of the Avengers’, decides against them and recruits heroes that share his thoughts a la #TeamCap. Tensions flare and the two opposing paradoxes come to blows in this grudge match between some of our most beloved Marvel characters. Will the Avengers tear themselves apart?”
So, at the direction of the now superstar Russo Brothers (Joe and Anthony), Cap 3 had a lot to follow after Winter Soldier and the crazy happenings after Age Of Ultron. Although their background is in tv (Arrested Development and Community), they came and they delivered. The best movies are those that evoke emotions, they are the ones that tug on our most inner thoughts and feelings by using nostalgia, great scores, and fight scenes. Civil War does all of this and more. This movie paces itself very well. The plot builds emotional background for both teams with ease. We don’t have any overused origins that we’ve seen millions of times in comics, cartoons, and other movies. We don’t have played out nuances and references. We see how the Accords affects different people, and how they eventually form two sides. Of course there is this overwhelming theme of what is right and wrong as well as how involved a government should be, adding a hint of political connotations to the film . But in the end its simple, either you are for the cause of Tony or for the cause of Steve. Point blank. The plot progresses amazingly and culminated with amazing fight sequences and eventual foundation building for the next phase of the MCU.
Besides brilliant screenwriting, Marvel makes use of its powerful casting and array of great superheroes in their line up. Robert Downey Jr. continues his spot-on depiction of Tony Stark, but adds a new element to the character: a sense of maturity we haven’t seen before. This is mostly attributed to some major plot elements that only hardcore comic fans would not have seen as a twist come the last few scenes in the movie. Chris Evans continues to play the role of Steve Rogers, the poster boy goodie two shoes. However, he adds a new aspect to the character by amplifying his gutsy attitude. Rogers takes it to new heights when it comes to protecting his oldest friend in the world, Bucky Barnes, a.k.a The Winter Soldier. Cap never forgets all Bucky did for him and will not stop, as the movies liked to remind us, to do the right thing and protect his best friend. Along the way both headline characters recruit meticulously and this is where Marvel also shined in this film; the amazing and seamless use of other characters as if the comics came to life. Chadwick Boseman nailed the newly crowned King T’Challa/ Black Panther. They use Boseman to introduce the whole new world that is Wakanda, his native hyper civilized country that is never before seen by Marvel newbies. We see the return of Paul Rudd’s hilariously lovable Scott Lang/Ant Man and the new Avengers get shine with War Machine, Falcon, Vision, and Scarlet Witch. Last but not least we get to see the third, and what’s shaping to be the best depiction, of Spider-Man. Tom Holland nailed the 2016 version of Peter Parker with so much ease, it’s like damn this kid was really seven years old when Toby MaGuire did it in 2002. Holland, 19, is the youngest member of the MCU actor team. The British native is best known for his work in the Billy Elliot musical and in the 2012 film, The Impossible. I’m not going to lie, when I heard he was cast I was like no, who the hell is this preteen? He proved me SO WRONG. This is where the film really pulled on my nostalgic heart strings and where I fell in love with this film. We see classic elements from the webslinger, such as the endless banter, the free spirited fighting style, and of course the “never give up” attitude. The sixteen year old Spidey never failed to show heart whether it be in comic or cartoon. I literally heard “Omg he’s just a kid!!” from plenty of mothers in the audience as he was going to head to toe with Cap and others. I also like how both T’Challa and Parker were strategic buildups to each respective solo films due out in 2017 (Spider-Man Homecoming) and 2018 (Black Panther). All in all, the film came together and did well to leave a gloomy look into the future as the MCU gears up for its next climax, “Avengers: Infinity Wars 1 & 2.”
Now we all know what past Marvel movie critics had to say. Too many flashy lights and not enough emotion. Well thanks to the Russo brothers they capture emotion in both WS and Civil War. Peyton Reed and Paul Rudd showed us the more lighthearted side of the gritty MCU in Ant-Man. So the MCU heard the viewers and instead of cutting down on the immense action scenes, they added emotional ties and light hearted banter. I hope we will continue to see this in Phase Three as we expect Dr. Strange in November and an impressive 2017 with Spidey, Guardians 2, and Thor: Ragnarok. With films slated up until 2019, MCU has solidified their reign over superhero fandom in the movies.
In addition, the MCU extends to television. For example, Marvel TV has tapped Netflix original shows that like their cinema counterparts will culminate in a crossover series The Defenders starring New York’s finest in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones. Not to mention, a Punisher spin off is in the works as well. Shout to Jon Bernthal for absolutely NAILING Frank Castle in season two of “Daredevil”, check it out if you haven’t! Marvel also has shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, as some fun background providing series that fill in holes in the cinematic timelines. AND if that isn’t enough, Marvel makes its cable tv debut with Cloak and Dagger coming to Freeform network in 2017. Marvel is everywhere!
So yeah Marvel has very well established their reign. Besides the monopoly they have essentially created, they also inspired a boom in comic book film adaptations. Like Vision pointed out in the film, since 2008 or “in the 8 years since Tony Stark revealed himself as Iron Man (at the end of the first MCU Iron Man film)” there has been many screen and tv adaptations of our favorite super heroes. Just think the Nolan Batman trilogy, TMNT reboot, and the newly expanded DC cinematic universe all came post the formation of the MCU and their coveted post credit scene. We all know what’s up after a Marvel movie, there’s always a little hint at the future after enjoying their films.
For those of you who didn’t know, the right to use certain characters are “owned” by certain studios. Most notably, the never ending universe of the X-Men is owned by 20th Century Fox. They have also stepped their game up. First, they decided to redo the whole universe by crossing timelines and negating everything the past movies did. They crafted a fresh start right in front of our eyes. With it they brought us an R-rated hit that was Deadpool, with a sequel in the works. (Thanks Ryan Reynolds!) This summer, they have the long awaited Apocalypse showdown hitting theaters and standalone movies to come in the next few years. Talk about a comic book baby boom. Nonetheless, this is all because of MCU’s Control verse, the build up and execution of the first Avengers film. It was so crazy, it had to work. Kevin Feige, you are one lucky man.
So, Marvel will continue to produce amazing projects whether it is on our T.V. or movie screen. They are able to introduce classic characters to the new generation and reintroduce them to grown up nerds like me. If you aren’t all caught up with all of MCU’s films, please do so. It will captivate you, I promise. There is no other production company that has shaken up pop culture with the introduction of mainstream nerdiness like Marvel. So while we patiently await for Benedict Cumberbatch to portray Dr. Strange in November, catch up where you can!
FYI here’s the films MCU has released and has lined up
PHASE 1: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
Iron Man – 2008
The Incredible Hulk – 2008 (RIP to Ed Norton)
Iron Man 2 – 2010
Thor – 2011
Captain America: The First Avenger – 2011
Marvel’s The Avengers – 2012
PHASE 2: THE AFTERMATH
Iron Man 3 – 2013
Thor: The Dark World – 2013
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy – 2014
Avengers: Age of Ultron – 2015
Ant-Man – 2015
PHASE 3 AND BEYOND: SH*T HITS THE FAN
Captain America: Civil War – 2016
Dr. Strange – 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 2017
Spider-Man: Homecoming – 2017
Thor: Ragnarok – 2017
Black Panther – 2018 – Look up #BlackPantherSoLIT on twitter please. For the culture.
Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – 2018
Ant-Man and the Wasp – 2018
Captain Marvel – 2019
Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – 2019
Over-promising and under-delivering,
The Talent – Proud member of Team Iron Man and future Tony Stark