As a child (and an adult, who am I kidding), running down to the local corner shop to flick through the piles of Marvel and DC comics was the highlight of the week. From Batman to the Fantastic Four, Superman to Thor - I tried them all. All but one…Captain America. Maybe it was the goofy costume (the guy has a capital ‘A’ on his forehead and little wings on his helmet) or maybe, coming from England, a character called ‘Captain America’ didn't really have anything I thought I would be able to relate to. I always glided right past it, and it would seem I wasn't alone. When the first Captain America film was released back in 2011 there was a real worry about its international appeal. It finished its run with a 370 million dollar take off a 140 million dollar budget, which was a lot lower than other Marvel movies at the time. It's to Marvel’s credit then that they have built the character up to rival the popularity of its golden goose Iron Man, and his solo movies are arguably the best of the lot.
Created in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby at a time when World War 2 had engulfed the globe, Captain America was a part of the war effort back home. As much war time propaganda as comic strip, kids bought it in its thousands to see Cap give Hitler and the Nazis what for. The comic remained popular throughout the war years but was retired in 1950 as his popularity, and seemingly, relevance waned. That is until Stan Lee dusted him off and reintroduced him in 1964, as the man revived out of time to find a world vastly different from the one he knew. Over 40 years later and Cap was still front and centre for the 2006 Marvel crossover event ‘Civil War’ by Mark Millar, which this movie is based on.
Now, normally I would discuss the source material and how it relates and compared to what they ended up filming, but in this case it really is night and day. The basic reason for the conflict is the same, the registration and control of super powered individuals, as are the two main protagonists, Captain America and Iron man, but the rest is pretty much entirely new. Nitro blowing up a whole town of people, the New Warriors, weird Thor clone thing (seriously, what were they thinking with that), Goliath being killed - all gone or don't even exist, which leaves us with a film that stands apart from its graphic novel cousin. But what a film it is!
If you in any way enjoy comics or superheroes, or even movies in general you have a duty to see this film in a cinema. It's not that it's perfect - yes Spider-Man does feel like the late addition to the script that he was rumoured to be, and there may be a case for saying it’s a bit on the long side, but that’s all just splitting hairs. This is the kind of film you go to the cinema to see on the big screen and it's a joy.
Let's look at the new additions. Tom Holland as Spider-man is a note-perfect portrayal of the character. Although really just an extended cameo, it puts his upcoming 2017 movie front and centre of my “can't wait to see” list and justifies Sony’s decision to revert creative control to Marvel’s in-house team. We also finally get Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the Black Panther, another fantastic transition from page to screen. The directors Anthony and Joe Russo deserve a lot of credit for all the juggling done here. Despite the huge cast, mostly all the characters have their time to shine culminating in the now infamous ‘airport scene’, which is quite simply breathtaking and may very well bring certain fanboys to tears. If this was any indication of what we might get with them directing the two upcoming Avengers movies then we are in for a treat. This really is everything Batman v Superman should have been and crushingly wasn't. Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr are fantastic in the main roles and the script really has you torn on what side you would lean to, as they both have valid points. An area it actually improves on from its graphic novel base, which painted Tony Stark near enough as a straight up villain. Talking of villains, we finally get one that has a bit of depth to him in Daniel Brühl’s Zemo. Despite being lower key than the world-ending threats of Ultron and Loki, he arguably does more damage than both of them combined while also having a sympathetic reason for the chaos he's caused.
While maybe not as good a film as its predecessor, The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War gives us one of the best superhero films ever to grace the big screen. Go see it!
VERDICT: 5 out of 5
Civil War by Mark Millar
The Marvel graphic novel upon which the movie is loosely based. Captain America and Iron man take opposing sides in this Marvel crossover event. Extremely different from the movie, absolutely worth a read.
Captain America Epic Collection: Captain America Lives Again by Stan Lee
Transformed by the super soldier serum into the Nazi-fighting machine Captain America, Steve Rodgers led the charge to defeat Hitler and the Red Skull. After an accident left him frozen for decades he is revived into a world very different from the one he knew. These are the original tales in one huge value book. Great stuff.
Iron Man Epic Collection: The Golden Avenger by Stan Lee
Another volume from the Marvel Epic line of graphic novels. Tony Stark was a playboy jet setter and brilliant scientist until a battlefield explosion changed his life forever. Unable to survive without his specially made armour he became Iron Man.
Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Power by Stan Lee
Seeing as it's his Marvel movie debut why not take a look back at the stories that shaped the phenomenon he is today. Featuring the first 17 issues of the original title this is a great value bumper way to catch up.