2016 HAS already blessed fans of superhero cinema with two blockbusters. This Friday, the third one arrives. And “Captain America: Civil War” will surely be the biggest of the bunch.
Marvel Studios’ new film has all the scale of a third Avengers-team picture, and it may well tally the monster box office to match. And the screen debuts of Black Panther and Marvel’s version of Spider-Man only stoke fan anticipation.
Fresh off our screening of the film, here are Comic Riffs’ three quick takeaways:
MICHAEL CAVNA: As high as my expectations were for a second Russo Bros. outing with Cap, this movie exceeded them for me. Granted, we haven’t even been out of the theater an hour, but what’s your immediate, no-distance reaction to the film?
DAVID BETANCOURT: “Civil War” is the most fun I’ve had watching a superhero movie. This movie reaps the benefits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and of all the years that have been put into connecting so many dots. This movie has so many characters, but it doesn’t seem forced because we’re invested in each one of them. It probably could have worked without Black Panther and Spidey, but the fact that they were there, too, made this special.
MC: We should talk about Black Panther. The audience cheers when he appears on screen for the first time in costume, serving as a loud reminder of just how historic this moment feels, 40 years after T’Challa debuted in comics. What did that moment, and Chadwick Boseman’s performance as the character, mean to you?
DB: It was magical and well worth the wait. Boseman did a great job both in and out of costume.
Out of costume, he gave the vibe of a noble Prince. But when the suit is on and the claws are out, he’s a warrior and a force in the MCU. This isn’t just a cameo, either; Black Panther plays a major role. I even enjoyed his made-up Wakandan accent.
There was so much pressure to get this character right. Any slips and [Marvel] would hear about it from Black Panther’s huge fan base. I’m happy to say that justice is done to Black Panther in his first movie appearance.
MC: And without giving away anything here, we can say the solo Black Panther film is set up quite nicely.
The other character appearance that drew especially loud cheers was of course Marvel’s cinematic “rescue” of Spider-Man. Not since [Sam] Raimi’s second “Spider-Man” have I enjoyed the webslinger’s presentation and context this much on screen — and that’s in limited action. What’s your take on the new Spidey?
DB: Even though this is technically the sixth time we’ve seen [live-action] Spider-Man in a major movie, it really felt as if we were looking at the wall-crawler through a new set of eyes. You see the power of Marvel Studios’ well-earned authenticity with these characters.
It’s obvious why Tom Holland won this role. He’s a scene stealer. His youth shines through, especially when he’s in his Spidey suit. Marvel Studios really nailed it with Spider-Man. They successfully reintroduced Spidey, and with only so much screen time, they have us now impatiently waiting for Holland to get the chance to star in his own movie. This feeling we have after seeing Spider-Man — the “wow, that was incredible” — was what Sony was going for but never achieved with its Andrew Garfield-as-Spidey movies.
Spider-Man is back.
MC: So there is no Thor and no Hulk — which the film acknowledges with a wink — yet “Civil War” has all the feel of a virtual Avengers team film. If this *were* a third Avengers-assemble movie, where would it rank alongside [Joss] Whedon’s two films?
DB: “Civil War” isn’t an Avengers movie, yet it is an Avengers movie. It makes sense to leave Hulk and Thor out of it; whichever team those two were on would be the clear winner — although if you put them against each other, who wouldn’t want to see that? But we know Hulk will be in the next Thor movie, so there’ll be no fighting between these two — at least yet.
“Civil War” is just as good as both Avengers movies. Both Joss and the Russos [Anthony and Joe] can only work with the storyline they are given. Joss did a really good job at humanizing superhumans. The Russos take superhero action to the maximum.
“Civil War” is Marvel Studios’ greatest accomplishment to date, and deserves equal recognition alongside both Avengers films.