BURNISHING THE BRAND MARVEL’S SET A HIGH BAR
Governments across the world feel its time these superhero rogues get licensed, supervised, controlled. It’s an idea that appeals to bad-attitude billionaire Iron Man. It is one, however, that straight-arrow soldier Captain America rejects. And the stage for that titular “Civil War” is set.
It’s superhero v/s superhero in the latest Marvel concoction, Captain America: Civil War. A house divided against itself cannot stand. But in the case of “Captain America: Civil War,” a divided house brings out the best in this supersized superhero franchise. The film is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, with a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and features an ensemble cast that includes Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Brühl.
At issue are the question of accountability, and the governing of the all-powerful “enhanced individuals,” as they’re known in the film. “Batman V Superman” raised similar questions about the policing of superheroes, but “Civil War” takes a much more practical approach, with Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) introducing legislation that will require the Avengers to answer to the collateral damage their missions produce. Oddly, rich guy Stark is agreeable to the change in management while military vet Steve Rogers/Captain America thinks the super-squad should remain independent. After a mission involving a new Avengers squad led by Cap ends with several civilian casualties in Lagos, the team is asked to sign an agreement that would force them to take orders from a United Nations panel. Oddly, rich guy Stark ( Iron Man) is agreeable to the change in management and pressures Cap to accept this new arrangement, in part because he feels deeply guilty about his own past recklessness; Captain America, however, fears that the Avengers will only be corrupted by bureaucracy and that the super-squad should remain independent. Their disagreement eventually escalates into all-out war when Cap’s old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), now a brainwashed assassin known as the Winter Soldier, reenters the picture. This turns out a lot of innocent people to death as the city is battling alien forces causing a bone of contention and forces the other members of their team – including Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, who still needs her own Black Widow movie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Lizzie Olsen) and newcomer Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – to choose sides. And those sides clash in a mega battle on an airport tarmac that exemplifies the film’s mix fun and flash.
Certainly there is tons of action, as usual, but also a lot of talk in the nearly 147 minutes of running time. The surprises of the film are best not telegraphed ahead of time – we know that Iron Man and Captain America will come to blows, but how we get there is everything to this movie. It really takes off and flies when they reach the Leipzig airport. That is where these guys do their thing — that thing fans pay to see. And joining them in the spirited battle is Spider-Man, who really seems to be having a good time on this assignment. When those punches are finally thrown, it’s an earned moment, no matter how much we do not want to see these characters go to war. There is a sadness that fills the movie, a sense of inevitability, and a feeling that while we do not want to see this conflict happen.
Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, who also helmed 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” have built the hostilities for maximum impact without neglecting the characters. Their thundering epic is also smart, snappy and a neat trick pulled off by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, makes it even more delightful. They strike the right balance of serious and silly, knowing when to go action-heavy and when to lighten the mood. Most importantly they keep everything constantly moving and never forget to have fun. This is, after all, a story about costumed superheroes, not life or death material.
Civil war will leave you breathless as it is a tremendous feat of film making. It’ll make you think about the positions these characters take and it may put you at odds with the hero you love. Civil War is payoff for much of what we’ve seen with these characters so far. Moments of quiet conversation become riveting, intense moments because we are so engaged with these people – even the new ones, who although are placed right in the thick of things, are no less compelling than the ones we’re already familiar with. Its gonna be a treat to your eyes, go watch it in3D.