That time of year is almost upon as again, when a movie fan cannot help but sit back and smile at how many phenomenal blockbusters will soon be filling the local multiplex. However, many student fans of the summer movie season first need to finish school and take many hours of exams. For all of the CBR readers taking American history this year, one familiar question may be “when did the Civil War start?” The answer is May 6th, 2016.
It has been some time since “Captain America: Civil War” hit theaters. The film charmed fans and critics alike. Currently holding a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film still remains beloved by a vast majority of fans. However, with more Marvel movies being released every year, there is still a debate raging on about which is best. Well, now that fans have had some time to sit on “Civil War” and truly consider its merits, it is completely fair to deem it as the best! Here are 15 reasons why “Civil War” is the best Marvel movie!
15 EASTER EGGS
Each Marvel movie is riddled top to bottom with easter eggs. Tiny little hints are always fun ways of teasing fans from previous or upcoming movies, as well as rewarding impressing comic book fans with an intricate attention to detail. Previous films have included nods to Howard the Duck in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and references to “Pulp Fiction” in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
“Civil War” is no exception. The Raft prison is introduced in the film and is certainly familiar to all comic book nerds. For television fans, the Russo brothers brought in Jim Rash as the backstage coordinator at M.I.T. Rash was a main cast member on “Community,” a show for which the Russos directed countless episodes. In terms of Marvel easter eggs, both Damien Poitier and Alfre Woodard showed up. The former did the motion capture performance for Thanos in the post credits scene of “The Avengers.” The latter appeared in "Luke Cage" in a small role as well. Countless easter eggs exist though and are even more fun to search for than the obvious ones in other Marvel films.
14 NOT TOO JOKEY
Every Marvel movie is known for its humor. Whether it be “Language!” in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Tony Stark’s signature wit, or the entire finale of “Ant-Man,” they all have their charms. “Civil War” is no exception. The airport fight sequence is very entertaining and characters certainly exchange some verbally charged and sarcastic warfare. The most important aspect of the film, though, is that it never feels too jokey.
In a movie called “Civil War,” you want to feel like there are stakes. If the film was a repeat of “Ant-Man” or even “The Avengers,” it would easily come across as "Captain America: Civil Scrimmage." It would feel like there are no stakes. Luckily, Joe and Anthony Russo only added in jokes when they served to relieve tense moments. Only after the emotion of a scene was established would a character quip. This retains the same fun of the previous Marvel films, but also shows that the stakes are real.
13 AFTER ULTRON
The most important aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its continuity. Despite the excellence of many X-Men films, the timeline is all over the place. Actors replace other actors, different renditions of characters exist in completely different time periods, and an entire movie was devoted to an attempted resolution to this. Luckily, “Civil War” proves that Marvel has a handle on its continuity.
When “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was released in May 2015, fans did not detect too much setup for “Civil War” the following year. However, after the release of “Civil War,” things seemed to make a lot of sense. The repercussions of a city being lifted into the sky were felt. People actually died and were not just brushed aside or ignored. Damages felt like they happened in the real world and needed to be addressed internationally. This setup for “Civil War,” in addition to continuing the character conflict between Stark and Rogers, showed that Marvel’s continuity is something to be admired and executed to subtle perfection in “Civil War.”
Marvel took a gamble on Joe and Anthony Russo when assigning the directors for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” However, the “Community” geniuses really showed what they were made of. In both “Winter Soldier” and “Civil War,” they used their experience with a large cast to make every character feel relevant and purposeful, with a specific journey. Yet, at the same time, each character feels like a part of the larger mission needing to accomplished for the sake of the film. This juxtaposition from the Russo team is masterful.
While also telling character-driven stories, the Russo Brothers directed larger scale action that feels grand and impressive. The orchestration of the airport sequence and beginning fight with Crossbones was phenomenal work. The directing duo knew exactly how to make the large cast of “Civil War” not feel overwhelming and how to successfully direct action that will be remembered in the superhero genre for years to come.
The guys who worked on “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” would not have been our first guess if you asked us who wrote “Civil War.” Marvel once again brought on Captain America movie veterans Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to write the script for “Civil War.” Before “Civil War” was released, Marvel hired the two to write “Infinity War” and the untitled fourth Avengers film. This faith in the two showed that “Civil War” was promising.
The writing made “Cap 3” feel like it took place in the real world. With mentions of the United Nations and other more realistic political concepts, the comic book adaptation was based in a familiar existence: our own. All of the dialogue in the film also felt polished and effective, with characters whipping quips that felt natural and timely. The fact that the same team will be creatively imagining “Infinity War” and setting up the future of the Marvel universe should be reassuring to fans everywhere, as “Civil War’s” masterful writing proves that the MCU is in good hands.
10 IT MET EXPECTATIONS
Not only was “Civil War” the most anticipated movie of 2016 for many fans, it was also the most anticipated Marvel movie for many. Though “The Avengers” had a first time around charm, “Civil War” was something new and different. It looked to be a darker turn for the MCU and that was something that captivated fans. The introduction of characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther were also long awaited in the MCU and felt like unachievable in such a big movie.
Yet, the film was able to meet and surpass fans’ expectations. “Civil War” broke records for the all-time most viewed trailer at the time and it paved the way for millions to be excited for the movie. Though a fun, action-packed movie would have been fine enough for many Marvel junkies, the film’s refined tone and professionalism was something that many were not expecting. This added a new layer to the film and the constant twists and turns over the two and a half hour run time made every single second better than any of us could have imagined.
9 NO CLEAR WINNER
Going into “Civil War,” many folks were 100% on Team Cap. Seeing as it’s called “Captain America: Civil War,” he would certainly be portrayed as the hero and Tony Stark would be the cruel villain. Right? Wrong. One of the best parts of “Civil War” is that there’s no clear victor. By painting Tony Stark’s emotions versus Steve Rogers’ moral compass, the audience is torn.
This divide then leads to conversations amongst fans. We walked out feeling much more towards Team Iron Man, much more than the divide in the comics event . This uncertainty, as exhibited by many characters in the actual film, portrayed a realistic grey area within the theme of the movie, proving that neither character is entirely right or wrong. It started debates amongst fans, but no matter when you first see “Civil War,” there being no clear winner between the two proved that “Civil War” was a phenomenal character piece amid the good versus all evil cliché so prevalent in other superhero movies.
8 CHARACTER CHEMISTRY
In most Marvel movies, the character interactions are genuine and fun. However, there’s a new flavor added to “Civil War.” Instead of seeing the teamwork and action-packed flavor of the team interactions in “The Avengers,” the character interactions are even better because of the film’s conflict. Some characters are snippier and snarkier to each other than usual.
Seeing the budding rivalry between Cap and Iron Man is one example of this. Though the two were a bit ideologically opposed when the Avengers first came together, they came to be close. However, seeing the two grow bitter towards each other is fascinating. The interaction among new characters is also superb. Spider-Man plays along extremely well with Tony Stark and against Steve Rogers in the exactly intended way. Black Panther offers a great foil, too. This is all not to mention, the frenemy relationship between Bucky and Falcon, which is downright adorable.
7 HERO VS. HERO
The best thing about the central conflict in “Civil War” is that it’s not strictly man against machine (a la “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) or monster versus monster (a la “The Incredible Hulk). Though the premise has been done to death in the comics, “Civil War” was the big screen’s first well-executed film depicting hero versus hero. Though “Batman v. Superman” covered the hero against hero concept a couple months before “Civil War’s” release, “Cap 3” really established itself as a fight of gigantic proportions because of the moral dilemma at its center.
Tony Stark is fighting for his emotions and for the remembrance of all those lost in Sokovia. Steve Rogers, on the other hand, is fighting for justice and for his lost friend trying to find a new path. Neither is in the wrong on their side, which of course trails back to the “No Clear Winner” point made above. The moral conflict between the two is larger and more meaningful than several of the other conflicts posed in Marvel movies and it truly separates “Civil War” from the previous MCU movies in the best possible way.
6 THE HEART
Besides “Guardians of the Galaxy,” few other Marvel movies are great at truly delivering the emotional punch that they could. Each new Marvel movie is insanely fun and has some truly heart-warming moments. “Captain America: Civil War” does not define itself with sweetness though. The raw and grave emotion felt by characters throughout this film is unlike most in any other superhero movie (Marvel or not).
The film is largely based around family. Bucky is the closest thing Steve Rogers has to a brother, while Tony Stark has spent years thinking about how his parents. That all changes when Tony discovers that Bucky killed his parents. Tony begins unleashing the emotional turmoil he is going through, realizing that his parents were entirely helpless. These horrible, terror-inducing thoughts race through Tony’s mind in the final act of “Civil War” and show the saddening path that divides the Avengers by the end of the film.
5 CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Each Marvel movie has character development, of course; it's a hallmark of the franchise. However, each film is usually about highlighting that individual character and what he or she is trying to do for the time being. “Ant-Man” shows Scott Lang trying to go from good guy to good father. “Iron Man” shows Tony Stark go from billionaire playboy to true genius who can use his money for good.
“Civil War” is the culmination of years of individual character development. Seeing Cap still be the ideologically-driven guy that he was in World War II would not work for the premise of this movie. He is instead someone who is affected by the lies of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the events of “The Winter Soldier.” Stark is similarly haunted by the PTSD he experienced in “Iron Man 3” and the death and destruction of Sokovia in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The two come together as men who have experienced a lot and who continue down very three dimensional paths towards the future of Marvel.
4 STILL FEELS LIKE CAP 3
When the initial cast was released for “Captain America: Civil War,” it immediately felt like there was an overabundance of characters. With the absence of Thor, the Hulk, and Nick Fury, almost every other major Marvel character was set to make an appearance. It definitely felt much more like “Civil War” than “Captain America: Civil War.”
Luckily, some good writing and very strategic directing made “Civil War” still feel like a Cap centric story. The Iron Man angle is certainly there, but the vast majority of the film focuses on Steve Rogers and his quest. The themes of political scheming, lies, and a search for truth carry over from “The Winter Soldier” to “Civil War.” This through-line and the continued focus on what Steve Rogers stands for makes him an effective lead. In grounding the film to that central character, “Civil War” feels more focused and showcases the impressive efforts of the writers and directors.
3 NEW CHARACTERS
As mentioned in the “Character Chemistry” entry, the new characters in “Civil War” stand out. Each new Marvel movie introduces new characters, but few stand out as much as T’Challa and Peter Parker. Though we certainly knew that standalone movies are on their way for both characters, the two were so much more fluently incorporated into the storyline and used for thematic effect than many new characters’ first appearances in other Marvel films.
Chadwick Boseman establishes himself as a fierce and no nonsense T’Challa. The man means business. He summarizes the character in the best possible way, especially when it comes to dealing with the justice after his father’s death. To counteract Black Panther’s ferocity, Spider-Man brings the humor and sweetness that this film needed. “Civil War” stays dark throughout, but the lighthearted quips that Parker throws in the airport fight are natural to the character and well timed. Tom Holland is perfect casting as Peter Parker and quickly shot to the top of Marvel’s most impressive newcomers.
2 THAT AIRPORT SEQUENCE
I’ve briefly mentioned it in a few points so far, but the airport sequence is so deserving of its own recognition. Many superhero films try and fail to build suspense. Final throw-downs can be cool if timed well, but can feel mediocre and unfulfilling if not. “Civil War” presents a phenomenal throw-down that really showcases the film's action strengths. It presents that neither side is willing to back down and both firmly stand for their respective ideology, while also just being a damn fun time at the movies!
Seeing almost every Marvel hero face off against one another is astounding and pure fun. The quips of Spider-Man make it feel humorous but the sternness of Tony Stark made it feel equally important. Hawkeye’s grounded warfare against the magical powers of Vision and Scarlet Witch is a phenomenal contrast. The important actions of every character from The Winter Soldier to Black Widow to War Machine to Giant-Man all make this action sequence in “Civil War” both essential in terms of story and perfect in terms of spectacle.
1 LASTING CONSEQUENCES
Going in, many fans thought that the most important part of “Civil War” was going to be its ending. Thousands nationwide were speculating which major character might bite the dust and how that would impact “Infinity War” and every other project for Marvel in the next few years. Luckily, no one died, but “Civil War” showed that it had lasting consequences in an entirely different way.
Instead of turning Tony Stark of Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes into a coldblooded killer by taking out one of the others, the film decides to leave the conflict open. The wound of “Civil War” is still there. Tony and Steve have their differences and it can not be settled with words or fists for the time being. This means that the Avengers are disassembled and the world is vulnerable to threat. Though no major characters die, the film still ends on a sour note and does not resolve itself in a neat bow. It shows the trickiness of moral dilemmas, ideological warfare, and what happens when friends come to blows.
What’s your favorite Marvel movie? Let us know in the comments down below!