Captain America: Civil War (2016)

CA-CWIt’s apropos of Marvel to finally bring in Spider-Man to “Civil War.” Because while it is essential that he be introduced to a brilliant cinematic universe, he is representative of the underlying message behind “Civil War.” With great power comes great responsibility. After spending so many years doing battle with aliens and super powered foes, the Avengers are finally taking a toll on the world, and the government from all sides of the globe is angry at their inherent recklessness.

Tony Stark is particularly weary from the constant battles, especially after being confronted by the grieving mother of a young man who died as a bystander during one of the battles the Avengers were a part of. When a string of bombings occur during major political events, “Winter Soldier” aka Bucky Barnes is blamed. When the government reacts with force, Captain America decides to track down his old friend and help him before he’s crucified and turned in to a scapegoat. What’s so incredible about “Civil War,” is that while you may ultimately take a side, the stance Tony Stark and Steve Rogers both take on the issue of power being controlled and by who for what purposes is reasonable.

I thought I’d be completely on Captain America’s side, but Stark’s position on the debate of being monitored and registered with governments and having the Avengers being controlled and sectioned like a police force is reasonable. Tony is a man who thinks the government has a point that their immense power–which includes a god and a massive hulking monster–should have limitations and have a steady hand keeping things balanced. After the events of “Winter Soldier,” Steve has seen what control and manipulation can do, and considers it the responsibility of the team to keep themselves regulated and find some way to maintain safety throughout the world while keeping everyone from suffering cruel deaths. The war of ideologies is ultimately what brings the Avengers team as warring sides of superpowers battling with one another.

They all believe so strongly in their views that they’re willing to die for it, and it keeps the action emotional and compelling through the very end. The Russo brothers masterfully balance out a slew of fascinating and fantastic Marvel heroes and villains, adding bold new dimensions to comic book characters that may have otherwise translated poorly on to the big screen. The film maintains the awe and spectacle of the Avengers, while also remaining as grounded and technical as possible. The ultimate recruitment of Spider-Man is a wonderful move on Tony’s part. He’s a man who recognizes a prodigy when he sees it, but knows Spider-Man agrees with him, since his motto since day one as the wall crawler has been Great Power requiring Great Responsibility.

Even as a powerful and brilliant young man Peter understands his limitations and this peaks Tony’s interest. “Civil War” is a near masterpiece that defies the somewhat bloated narrative. The Russos stack characters, top notch performances, and multiple sub-plots without ever losing momentum, building a perfectly well paced and coherent tale about revenge and the question of absolute power resulting in absolute corruption.