Marvelette Missives – A Perfect War

It should come as no surprise that I saw Captain America: Civil War last weekend (well, Thursday night to be exact). I am a Marvel chick, after all. So I want to explain why I think this is an almost perfect superhero movie. (Very minor spoilers ahead – I don’t give away the good stuff.)

There are five important aspects to every superhero movie: plot, characters, pacing, humor and action. (These can be said to apply to all movies in varying degrees.) So let’s take each in turn and show what Civil War does right.

Plot: This continues out of the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and the destruction of Sokovia. Yes, it differs from the registration act plot of the Civil War comics, but this is a good thing. (Regardless of what those nostalgic for the comics may tell you, they weren’t great.) Because everything in the MCU is connected, we already have the background needed without too much exposition. And within the MCU, this storyline and the sides the heroes take makes complete sense. Even the subplots (including a budding romance of sorts) work well and don’t detract from the main plot.

Characters: If you’ve seen the movies leading up to this point (which you sure as hell better have!), you already know the majority of the characters inCivil War. And I don’t mean you know their names and abilities – I mean you know their personalities, the forces that drive them. We know Tony has a big ego, we know Captain America is the boy scout, we know Bucky’s brain is haywire. So it’s no surprise who takes which side on the Sokovia Accord issue. And as for the new additions, Spider-Man and Black Panther, their motivations are clearly apparent and quickly explained.

Pacing: In any superhero movie you expect a combination of action and storytelling. Considering the seriousness of the issues in Civil War, there is a lot of storytelling that needs to take place and much of it is of a political nature (both global politics and personal ones). The fact that this movie never feels like it’s dragging along when it has characters discussing the issues says a lot for great pacing. And when the action really ramps up, it’s not out of place or chaotic. Everything in the film moves along very smoothly.

Humor: Unlike some companies (DC/Warner Bros, I’m looking at you), Marvel knows that humor is essential in super hero movies and doesn’t detract from the seriousness of a plot. Civil War does not disappoint in the one liners department and it’s often the chemistry among the characters that really makes it work. I’ve seen complaints about the humor in other Marvel movies, with people saying that cracking jokes while fighting isn’t “right” or natural. Interestingly, I’ve seen combat veterans defend the humor, saying it’s absolutely accurate to say stupid or funny things during battle because you need to get the stress out.

Action: Of course, the main thing everyone looks for in a superhero movie is action and Civil War does not disappoint. This movie has some of the best chases and fight scenes I’ve ever seen. And because it’s hero fighting hero in many cases, things get much more brutal and almost heart-wrenching by the end. These characters know each other well and they know how they fight, so everyone needs to step it up to try to take the others down. And even with so many characters on the screen in the airport fight, it never gets messy (like Age of Ultron often did). You can track every character and every punch, blast, arrow and web.

As I said at the start, Captain America: Civil War is an almost perfect superhero movie and, for me, it now has the top spot for Marvel movies.