Now THAT is how you make a hero vs hero movie!
Captain America: Civil War had no right to be this good. With over a dozen characters vying for attention, and adapting a very polarizing comic book storyline, it was a clusterfuck waiting to happen (Spider-Man 3, anyone?). But in the end, it defied expectations to become THE superhero movie to beat this year.
The Russo Brothers had their work cut out for them after the rousing success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Their solution? Go bigger. After the events of Age of Ultron, the Avengers are now taken to task for the destruction they've caused from their superheroics. Enter the Sokovia Accords, a document that will make the Avengers answerable to the U.N. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) thinks it's a good idea and will give the team some much needed credibility, while Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is against the idea of turning the Avengers into government lapdogs. Evans continues to nail Rogers' idealistic stubbornness in the face of adversity, but it's RDJ who steals the show with his pragmatic take on Tony Stark, who's torn between his friendship with Steve and the need to make the world feel safe around Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Really, there were a lot of ways this movie wouldn't have worked. But it worked for a lot of reasons. One of them being the cast. No one felt out of place or left in the dust. Guys like Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier and Anthony Mackie's Falcon were more fleshed out, and owned the funniest parts of the film. The two newcomers, Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) were amazing. Boseman nailed the regal stature of T'Challa and the badassness of the Black Panther, basically curb-stomping everyone he faces off with, while Tom Holland was the highlight of the film as Spider-Man, quips, moves and all. Hell, even Paul Rudd's Ant-Man got a few good lines and moments in, and he's practically a cameo!
It worked because it unabashedly embraced its comic book roots. Captain America: Civil War is jam-packed with so many superheroic moments that you'll be hard pressed to pick just one favorite. The airport fight between #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan will go down in history as one of the most exciting superhero fights in recent history, with the Russo brothers throwing every possible match up and team up on the screen to give those "Who would win? Hero x vs Hero y?" fans palpitations to last them months.
Finally, Captain America: Civil War worked thanks to the lasting impact of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We've followed these characters for 8 years, and seen them go from heroes to friends to family, which only added to the gravity of the inevitable Cap vs Iron Man showdown. Sitting in the theater watching Captain America whale on Iron Man pained me, like I was watching family members fight. You were friends, dudes, I said to myself. Please stop fighting. Please. And the very fact that I said that meant it was working. I was invested in the story, I was all-in, and I loved every minute of it.
Captain America: Civil War is by no means perfect (Winter Soldier is still the better movie, IMO), but it's a damn good superhero film that has once again shaken the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its core. I laughed, I cried, I awesomed, and you will too. Highly recommended!
And to whoever's listening: THAT is how you make a hero vs hero movie.