“What was that?” “Everyone’s got a gimmick now.”
It isn’t easy to make a 22-year-old feel old, but Civil War managed to. It has been four years since The Avengers assembled to battle Loki and an army, and eight since RDJ’s Iron Sassbucket first graced our screens. That was a hard pill to swallow. Four years isn’t that long, but when The Avengers was released, I was a teenager without direction, qualifications or facial hair. Fast-forward to today, upon my yearly return to the MCU, two of those three have changed, whilst Marvel is still very much on home turf.
Marvel knows its pace. Smiles flash, swagger shakes and retorts fly on a second-to-second basis. Civil War‘s action is nothing out of the ordinary, but these snaps and wise cracks break up the punches and inject life into the occasionally-mindless brawling. This is not The Raid. This is pure 12A entertainment.
Civil War exhales an air of vibrancy and clarity, making Batman v Superman look like it’s choking on the smog of its own self-importance. The two films are similar in pitting two figureheads at odds, but the immediate similarities end here. Whilst BvS gets bogged down in cumbersome storylines, Civil War handles its two dozen characters with a dexterity DC simply lacked.
The character dynamics are just that; dynamic. We’ve been treated to their pasts, but they don’t hold it against us for forgetting snippets. It would have been easy to shoehorn the characters into a smaller scope, but thankfully, they never are. Everyone feels relevant, there are no damsels-in-distress or surplus supers. The film respects its elements, and when there are so many, that isn’t easy to do.
In a film this full, standing out is a challenge, but Black Panther passes with aplomb. Chadwick Boseman has stood out for a while, impressing in both 42 and the James Brown biopic Get on Up, but this will be his introduction to many. I’ve seen much worse. Whilst others gleefully join in with the endless trail of one-liners, Panther, refreshingly, refrains. He takes the situation seriously, and whilst others play with their food, Panther devours his opportunity.
Through it success, it would be very easy for Civil War to be smug. It never is. It treats you like an intelligent film-goer, not content with simple smashing and crashing. It may veer toward becoming overly glorious, but its drama is tempered and natural.
Civil War should be seen as one of Marvel’s greatest success stories. It is as ambitious as ever, tackling a potentially sticky situation and a fresh kind of villain. Characters, new and old, are successfully integrated, and the film rarely loses focus. This is not revolutionary cinema, nor is it remarkably innovative, but it is the one thing it strives to be: entertaining.
Images courtesy of Marvel, via comicbookmovie and fastcompany respectively.