Let me start by saying I am a fan of both characters in the Marvel comics universe in regards to the way both are portrayed on the big screen. I think Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect person to play Tony Stark and his Iron Man films have entertained and dazzled me with the first one being the best, the second being the worst but still entertaining, and the third a step up from two despite its overlapping flaws. I find the Captain America trilogy to perhaps be the only comic book trilogy in existence where each film is unquestionably better than the previous one and the expansion of that trilogies plot and character growth is very impressive. Every comic book trilogy and every trilogy in general should aspire to have each installment triumph over the previous one and be its own standalone movie. I still consider the first Avengers movie to be the best Marvel film ever made as it carries the excitement of seeing all the Marvel superheroes teaming up together for the first time on film. Avengers: Age Of Ultron was for the most part a satisfying sequel to the first Avengers movie even though it doesn't reach the same level of excitement nor cinematic heights off it's predecessor. Watching the trailers for Civil War, it appears that what was missing from Age Of Ultron that made it a step below the first Avengers movie has made it's return with this movie, and the end result is highly satisfying.
Captain America: Civil War is hands down the greatest Marvel movie ever made outside of the first Avengers movie. Where Age Of Ultron lacks the enthusiasm and excitement of it's predecessor, Civil War brings it all back and places itself right beside the first film. The first Captain America movie (Not the awful 1990 film) with Chris Evans was a highly entertaining blockbuster that benefitted from being a period piece set during World War ll. Everything about that movie was awesome right down to the Art-Set Decoration, Costume Design, and strong performances from it's main actors. It was a movie that essentially delivered good old fashioned summer fun at the theater. Winter Soldier upped the scope in every sense of the word by showing a war hero being brought into the 21st century and having to struggle with adapting to new modern times while maintaining his heroism as well as his patriotism. It also benefitted that Avengers 1 and 2 showed the clash between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark in regards to their motives behind being superheroes which makes for a nice foreshadowing of their inevitable clash in this movie. In Captain America: Civil War, political interference in the activities of the Avengers causes a rift between former allies Captain America aka Steve Rogers and Tony Stark aka Iron Man. As they begin to break apart over moral differences, the Avengers team is forced with having to choose which side to take along with newcomers such as Black Panther and Spiderman.
Civil War's greatest asset is not within the eye popping special effects that it showcases but rather the strong performances of it's main cast and the chemistry the two leads possess. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. were born to play these parts and they do it to absolute perfection. The friendship the two developed over the course of the three films they share together is evident here as well as the wittiness between the two making for a more powerful impact when the two take opposite sides in this movie. Scarlett Johansson does good as usual as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but the two actors who truly standout giving scene stealing performances in the film are Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spiderman. The latter doesn't have a large performance in the movie but the moments where the character does appear both as Peter Parker and Spiderman is spot on as the actor nails both perfectly while delivering nods to the previous interpretations of Spiderman. Marisa Tomei catches eyes as Peter's surprisingly younger and attractive Aunt May who shares a few great scenes with Tom Holland as Peter with zero clue of his after school activities as a webslinger. At first I was hesitant on the casting of Tom Holland as Spiderman because I grew up embracing Tobey Maguire in the title role as well as loving his trilogy despite the third films flaws. Andrew Garfield was a good Spiderman for the time he was allowed to be one as his series never made it past Amazing Spiderman 2, but Holland gives hope back to fans that he can deliver a Spiderman that takes all the great traits from both past performances and blend them into one definitive portrayal of the character. Whereas Maguire was the superior Peter Parker, and Andrew Garfield was the superior Spiderman due to having more sarcasm than Maguire's, Hollands Spiderman embodies both actors portrayals while giving the character a freshness and renewed sense of energy. After seeing his performance in this movie, one greatly looks towards his future solo film with much anticipation. Paul Rudd who plays Ant Man has a hilarious supporting role in this film bringing his A game from his previous solo movie onto this one, and William Hurt does a good job reprising the same character from the one he played in The Incredible Hulk. If one were to watch both movies back to back and notice the end scene with Tony Stark coming to tell Hurt's character that he's assembling the Avengers team together, you get excited to see the same
characters continuing from where we last saw them together. Anthony Mackle, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, and Don Cheadle all shine in their respective parts with Cheadle sharing some great moments with Robert Downey Jr that reminds you of their characters friendship in the first Iron Man movie and how far they've come since then. One almost wishes that it was Don Cheadle in the first Iron Man instead of Terrence Howard before he got fired because it would make the progression of his chemistry with Downey Jr. even more stronger.
In terms of the overall technical aspects of the film, Civil War dazzles visually and feels a bit long at times but the slow pacing is not a negative stain on the film but rather helps to advance a plot that comes across as being surprisingly mature and non cartoonish compared to other films in the Marvel universe. As action-packed of a blockbuster that Civil War makes itself out to be, it carries with it strong thought provoking themes such as what's right and what's wrong, good vs evil, vigilante justice, death of parents, friendship, accountability, victory at the expense of the innocent, diplomacy, fear vs understanding, and protection vs internment. The film's ultimate message says that doing the right thing can be hard which is the dilemma both Captain America and Iron Man deal with. An example is the films subplot of the government pushing for the Anti-Hero Registration Act, which is a law that limits the actions of a superhero. This law is brought into effect because of the casualties that occur when The Avengers are called into action and large damage being done to major cities. The act is what ignites a division within The Avengers as Iron Man stands by the act saying that their actions need to be kept in check otherwise they will continue to destroy cities, but Captain America believes that saving the world is risky enough and they cannot rely on the Government to do it. In regards to writing and tackling serious themes, The Captain America trilogy is becoming more and more noticeable for it's maturity and risk taking while inducing great fun and humor into the mix. Civil War is a prime example that you can actually have seriousness and popcorn entertainment interwined and get the best of both worlds. Avengers may be the best Marvel film still but Civil War possibly has the superior script with much deeper themes and thought provoking situations taking place here.
Overall, Captain America: Civil War is the film that Marvel fans have been waiting for in great anticipation and for many, it's going to make up for all of the shortcomings that Age Of Ultron possessed. This movie makes no effort to hide the fact that it's a summer blockbuster as it embraces that title proudly, but with all the action spectacle comes a surprising amount of maturity and brains that's mostly uncommon for a movie like Civil War but is more than welcome here. This movie is brave and courageous in tackling serious and thought-provoking themes while beautifully setting up the next batch of Marvel films that can be summed up as phase 3. The movie feels less cartoonish than the others and feels more real as these characters grow and act like real people. It is a movie that not only lives up to the expectations placed upon it but actually surprises and surpasses them. One of the years best movies thus far and the perfect film to kick start what looks to be a very promising summer of blockbuster extravaganza. As Roger Ebert would enthusiastically put it, TWO THUMBS UP. One of the greatest comic book movies ever made and the second greatest Marvel movie behind The Avengers, very close second.