Captain, while a great many people see you as a hero, there are some who prefer the word vigilante. You’ve operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That’s something the world can no longer tolerate.
Marvel movies tend to follow a similar formula by having a nice, straightforward narrative with lots of humour and tons of action. They are incredibly lighthearted and fun to watch, a formula which is perfect for entertaining a crowd. That is why these movies hardly stray from this pattern and always do incredibly well in the box office. However, after thirteen films, the formula is starting to become a bit tiresome. It often seems like you are watching the same movie over and over again. That is why it is important for a film to break away and do something different, which could lead to an even better film. Did Captain America: Civil War do that? No, but it took the formula and executed it the best it has ever been.
I think it is fair to compare Civil War to its predecessor, The Winter Soldier. Both films are fantastic for completely separate reason. The Winter Soldier was the film that pushed the envelope on Marvel films, as it sacrificed humour for very strong storytelling. The tone was fantastic in that film because there was a constant sense of paranoia. This is not a type of tone that is easy to entertain a crowd, as many viewers would miss the snappy and consistent humour. On the other hand, Civil War is one of the funniest Marvel films, and it has a lot of action set pieces. Arguably, the best.
There is a massive action scene that takes place in the airport. It is by far the best scene in any Marvel movie. Its humour and action leads to making this scene an incredible delight to watch. I found myself constantly laughing and applauding, something which Marvel films tend to attempt to elicit. The scene works so well by executing this formula in such an outstanding degree.
Civil War also has a surprising amount of character work, which comes to a shock with its many characters. However, that is because there are virtually no side characters besides the members of Avengers, allowing the screen time to focus on them. In addition, the film still manages to have most of its focus being on Captain America, Iron Man, and The Winter Soldier, with the other Avengers being support. This decision of replacing the usual supporting characters with the Avengers assisted the film in having a lot of superheroes without it feeling too cluttered. Oh, and Spiderman was great.
The motivations are also three dimensional. They are not hollow or powered by any sort of cliché, one dimensional reasoning. The film takes its time in making you understand why each character chose their side, and even though Captain America is the lead of this film, you might not agree with him. Civil War leaves it up to the audience members to determine which side is right. It is not crystal clear who to cheer for.
Overall, Civil War did some great work with making you enjoy every characters presence, with no one feeling neglected or worse than usual. However, if the film has one issue it is that the motivations felt like story beats instead of actual character work. Making these characters feel a certain way felt more like the film was trying accomplish something instead of actually feeling organic. Often times as the plot unfolded, it felt like Civil War was spinning the wheel and moving pieces around to make sure that there are two sides, and each side has a reason for fighting each other. However, Civil War did a good enough job with its development, therefore not making this a very big problem overall. Although, thinking about it, the concept is of doing so much storytelling groundwork just to get guys to want to punch each other is slightly ridiculous.
Overall, Civil War was a great film, but not as great as The Winter Soldier. Civil War felt like it took an existing formula and executed it the best it has ever been: a funny sense of humour, delightful characters, and lots and lots of great action. However, it felt very safe and did not push any boundaries of Marvel films, whereas Winter Soldier had fantastic storytelling. Overall, Captain America: Civil War was a fantastic Marvel film, but not the best it could be.