Cap & Co. are back, but it’s the newcomer who pounces in ‘Civil War’
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
Marvel fans don’t want to hear it, but the plot of Captain America: Civil War bears striking similarities to DC’s recent Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: Both deal with nations getting antsy about whether so much power should be turned over to enhanced humans, and whether anyone but another superhero can keep them in line. In Justice, it was the Dark Knight who took on the Man of Steel; here, Cappy (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) divide over who gets to decide what’s best for humanity.
As it turns out, though, it’s actually beyond their control — a mysterious figure (Daniel Bruhl) is secretly orchestrating the implosion of the Avengers by framing Cappy’s childhood pal (and Manchurian Candidate-like super-warrior) Bucky (Sebastian Stan) for a terrible act of terrorism. (It’s sort of like what the Joker did in The Dark Knight… though Marvel fans don’t wanna hear that, either.)
You have to admire Marvel Studios’ commitment to create a Cinematic Universe with as much internal logic as they (and their budgets) can muster. This is possibly the densest concentration of superheroes in any comic book adaptation, with fully a dozen armed and ready to bring it… which they do in several spectacular face-offs.
The action is top-notch, and while my dorkdom doesn’t extend far enough to brush over the occasional plot holes, I did get rapt by the introduction of several new heroes — of course Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whose appearance has caused nerdgasms across the web, but it’s really the addition of Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther that got my Spidey sense tingly. Boseman’s brief career has been marked by great performances as Jackie Robinson and James Brown, and his Prince T’Challa — the African potentate who also has the muscular nimbleness of a jungle cat — conveys not only power, intelligence and grace, but also a sort of moral ambiguity in his gravitas.
Comic book movies like to create larger-than-life dilemmas solved by genetically advantaged heroes; here’s one whose flawed humanity is compelling. It’s the kind of through-line that makes you wanna come back for more … which is exactly what this kind of movie should do.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2016.