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SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra

By alicebg, Jun 29 2017 07:11PM

In this episode: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

In a crowded blockbuster season, DC's hero-on-hero epic Dawn of Justice (q.v.) appeared just ahead of Marvel's equivalent. The two films make an interesting comparison, showing starkly (heh) just how much better Marvel Studios are at handling their comic book adaptations.

Referred to by many as "Avengers 2.5" - since it features about the entire cast of those movies - Civil War uses Mark Millar's 'event' comic as its starting point, but wisely ditches its excesses in favour of a slick, globe-spanning thriller. When an Avengers mission in Africa goes badly awry, part of the fallout is the UN's 'Sokovia Accords', effectively bringing the super-team under political control. A gap quickly opens up between Captain America (Chris Evans) who vehemently opposes the Accords, and Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), who supports them. As other heroes, both affiliated and freelance, rally to the two camps, Cap faces further pressure when the Winter Soldier, formerly his best bud Bucky Barnes, is implicated in a major terrorist incident. And he doesn't suspect the presence of a shadowy manipulator until it is rather too late.

Civil War's plot is at least as complicated as BvSDoJ , but it's handled with considerably more aplomb by co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo. It is, for example, much better at balancing its action and character moments, and its fight scenes have an edgier, more realistic tone than DoJ's CGI-overdose. The epic airport smackdown is a cinematic tour-de-force comparable to any of the great choreographed set-pieces in film history.

It's not entirely perfect, however. With such a huge cast of characters, getting everyone even a fleeting moment is difficult: outside of the regulars, Tom Holland manages to make a huge impression as a likeable, geeky Spider-Man; but Chedwick Boseman as Black Panther gets little to do other than showcase his own upcoming film. Oddly, though, the film's biggest flaw is comparable to that in BvSDoJ:after the airport battle, the movie has nowhere much to go, and the climax - packed with emotion though it is - feels like something of an afterthought, padding out what is already a very long running time.

That said, this is a rather fine piece of Marvel work, packed with thrills and boasting a particularly neat palette of shades, from very dark to bantering to pure four-color and back again. well worth watching, again and again.

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