Good Lord, a new standard has been set. This film single-handedly assures the world at large that their competition will never catch up. This is the new standard. If my review seems overly positive it's because that I can find no fault with this effort. Due homage is paid to established story-lines and characters. A mind blowing reveal about the Winter Soldier had various audience members collectively gasping. A stunt featuring Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) escaping a compound and obtaining a means of transport was just so damn breath-taking. It has been a long time since I have seen such a crowd pleasing film that obtained such a gleeful, universal reaction. Civil War is formidable and any accolade given it is duly earned.
The only question is where to begin.....? Let's start with organic progression. The introduction of T'Challa/Black Panther is one of the most off the page on to the screen transitions I have ever seen. Chadwick Boseman is the King of Wakanda. What an amazing performance. The accent, the movement, the poise. If there was any question that this character can carry a movie via his 2018 titular launch, let it be quickly dismissed. Wow. Boseman has seen his star rising for some time now with previous efforts in 42 and "Get on Up" as examples. Mr. Boseman now has a franchise.
Introducing the Amazing Spider Man. I have always bee a fan of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man/Peter Parker. I deplored Marc Webb's relaunch as it seemed to me he just didn't get the character. The Russos get him. They bring him to screen via Tom Holland in spectacular fashion. Tom Holland kills the performance. His meeting with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is outstanding.The meeting of two individuals who aren't all that different at heart;both science geeks and funny guys, was gamely presented The kinetic energy exhibited by Holland is infectious and even with intense battle scenes, the levity is omnipresent. A well kept secret during the actual civil war battle segment was amazingly maintained and had the due wow factor when it happened. Hell, I am gushing and I am un-apologetically doing so. The 2017 Spiderman: Homecoming film seems off to a good start.
The opening moments of C.W. redefine action sequences. Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch's powers are presented with all due depth and breadth. She is astoundingly powerful. The team effort of her, Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen), and Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as they pursue and engage Crossbones/Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) recalls the superior opening sequence of Winter Soldier, but this film is its unmistakably its own animal. Though the Russos used the epic "Civil War" arc of comic lore as a launching point, they allowed the story to evolve and progress into its own unique take.
Bucky Barnes' (Sebastian Stan) moments with Cap/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) are cinematic gold. Their friendship above all shades the film. Barnes/Winter Soldier has done an awful lot of bad and while all parties realize it wasn't truly his fault, the gravity and acknowledgement that he still these things is presented with powerful impact and nuanced performances. The friendship's core expands to include Sam Wilson and the trio's moments together including a hilarious car sequence and shared knowing glances after Steve finally allows himself a romantic moment with Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp) were priceless.
The airport sequence is easily one of Marvel's best action sequences ever. Honestly since W.S. Marvel has adjusted its game, presenting as superior product and the proclamation that if you tell a good story, it will shine through regardless of how many characters you have on screen. Downey Jr. does his best work in ages, presented a tormented, layered performance as Tony Stark/Iron Man. The opening segment featuring his "re-enacting" a personal family moment was mind blowing.
The Vision (Paul Bettany) gets some quality screen time as well. His classic interactions with the Scarlet Witch gets due treatment in the film. Honestly, no one is ignored in this run. The notion of mistrust being every present, along with the cost of being a hero is the heart of the story. The villain, Helmut Zermo (Daniel Bruhl) is pretty much a complete rewrite of the character's origins, but works as an enemy hiding in plain sight. His arc leads him into the Black Panther's trajectory and earns the film's line of the day day with "the living aren't done with you yet".
The moments between team mates illustrate that their dynamic has grown to resemble more family than some random heroic pairings. The movie however is entitled "Captain America" and Evans as always, sells it. From his receiving the news of a long time friend's death, to his subsequent tender moment at the funeral, Cap's humanity is resonant. His friendship at all costs with Bucky has heart enough to carry the film as a dramatic piece. The later revelation that Bucky's darkest secret was known by Cap illustrates the depth of his willingness to protect those around him. There is simply so much good with this film that the 2 hours plus run feels like the time span of a blink. So many characters are set up so easily with this film that Phase IV's asc ension is assured. Two end segments present rewards of great moments yet to come. Captain America: Civil War presents the cure for superhero film ennui. Marvel's empire continues to rise and the cinematic world is a better place for it. Civil War outdoes previous efforts and with the exception of "The Avengers", though now debate-ably, might be the best thing Marvel has presented so far. Civil War is - simply outstanding - and well, well worth your time. The Stan Lee cameo as always slays:)