‘Civil War’ – Superhero Film or Family Drama?

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Jennica Martin

Captain America: Civil War, the epic conclusion to the Captain America trilogy, premiered last weekend. Over the past few months, Marvel has been building up the hype for this film with an endless barrage of exciting teasers and promotions. So the question after watching this film is: did it live up to the hype? I definitely think so.

This film is a true superhero film, with amazingly choreographed fight scenes paired with fantastic character development. Not only will everyone be talking about the awesome fight scene at the airport, they will also be talking about the relationships between all of the characters. This film is about the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man over the government supervision of the Avengers, but that conflict runs deeper than just superheroes beating each other up. Throughout the film we get a clear understanding of all the characters’ motivations for being a part of this conflict and we see how that conflict affects them personally. This is undoubtedly a character-driven film, with the best part of the film being the characters themselves.

The characters that stole the show were clearly Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, and Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland. In my opinion, Black Panther – also known as T’Challa, the prince of the fictional African nation Wakanda – had the best character arc in this film. He didn’t have very many lines but he had an amazing storyline, and he stood out in every scene that he was in. It helps that he has a badass costume and some of the best choreographed fight scenes.

Spider-Man also stood out in every scene he was in, and that’s not because of his bright red spandex costume. He’s exactly what you’d expect from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man: a funny, awkward, nerdy teenager just trying to make the world a better place. He had some of the funniest moments, including his introduction scene, and even though he didn’t necessarily need to be a part of this film, he was an excellent addition.

There was a surprisingly large amount of humor in this heavy, conflict-based film. Every character had their own time to shine, but what surprised me the most was the hilarious dynamic between the Winter Soldier and Falcon, played by Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie respectively. You wouldn’t expect any kind of dynamic between a brainwashed assassin and a former paratrooper, but the great chemistry between the actors projected onto their characters. These characters managed to play such essential roles, especially with the Winter Soldier being at the center of the conflict, while also bringing a good level of light-heartedness.

And of course, there was Captain America and Iron Man, played by Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. During the past few Marvel films, we’ve only gotten a glimpse of Captain America’s dark side, and that was always overshadowed by his selfless determination to save the day. We’ve also seen Iron Man struggling with his own demons in the previous films, but those were almost always overcome by cracking a few jokes and saving the day.

In Civil War, we see these characters deal with the consequences of their own actions and fully embrace their dark sides. We see that Captain America is more than just a walking, talking American flag and that Iron Man is more than a charismatic billionaire in an iron suit. We see them as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, two very different, very complex characters that are struggling with their personal issues along with their duty to protect the world.

What made this film great was its focus on the characters, but unfortunately, that is also where the problems arise. As I’ve said before, this is a character-driven film, but unfortunately, it’s not very plot-driven. The interesting plot points introduced towards the beginning of the film were eventually ignored in favor of the character development. The main villain of the film, Zemo, played by Daniel Brühl, had the potential of being one of the most fascinating Marvel villains, but his storyline fell flat. Overall, the plot didn’t have much complexity and some of the plotlines were disappointing, but the characters brought this film to life.

Captain America: Civil War might be just another superhero summer blockbuster, but it’s more than that. It’s also an adrenaline-pumping, heart-wrenching drama about a family suffering from the consequences of their own actions being torn apart by their different approaches to those consequences.