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THE BATTLEFIELD — There is a simple sleight of hand magic trick I like to do for my kids. There is not much to it: I hold a coin in one hand while I appear to grab it with the other only to have it disappear right before their eyes.
I have probably done this trick for them 500 times. I have even taught them how to do it and have practiced it with them for hours. To say this impresses them still would be a lie. But, for some reason every time I perform this trick for them they somehow believe, if only for a split second, that the coin may have actually disappeared in my hand this one time.
This little anecdote is a stretch, but the closest I could come to communicating how I felt as I walked out of “Captain America: Civil War.” I walked into the movie ready for the setup, knowing the Marvel formula for movies all too well. I went in prepared to be mildly entertained, but ultimately unimpressed. I knew Marvel’s tricks and felt they were getting old. Two hours and 27 minutes later, I walked out and nothing had changed from the standard Marvel Avengers movie template. Their tricks were still the same, but somehow I was mostly impressed and very entertained. For just a moment, I thought the coin had actually disappeared.
I have since put some thought into it and here is what I felt sold the trick:
Not a horrible story
Marvel Studios had some great material to work with on this one. Based loosely on the seven-issue 2006 – 2007 comic book series Civil War, we get to see into the highly principled world of super heroes. Of course super heroes are super because they always do the right thing — especially Captain America — right?
Well, it turns out that not all good guys want to be good in the same way and they have different motivations for doing what they do. This dynamic often makes for some interesting conflict in real life as well. Think about the last time you tried to plan “the best date ever,” but neither of you could agree on the restaurant, radio station or favorite child. Now imagine you both have super powers and costumes. It’s kind of like that.
All the bad guys were good guys
It’s safe to say there wouldn’t have been much of a movie here if you had the regular old gang of Avengers quarreling over who left the dirty cereal bowl in the sink.
In the Civil War comic book series, Marvel enlisted every single comic book super hero it had ever created for this battle. Checking out the list of characters that were involved is pretty amazing. I quit counting after 112 super heroes including Howard the Duck and that wasn’t even half the list. The amazing thing is that everyone on the list was an ally at one time, but now duking it out.
Marvel Studios used the civil war premise as an opportunity to enlist many familiar characters that had not previously been seen together in a Marvel movie and a couple new ones to make things fair.
Cool character introductions
New character introductions are probably my favorite part of Marvel movies. If Marvel is going to bring someone new on board, they are going to need to make a big impact. This time around Black Panther and Spiderman were no exception.
Finally! We get to see Disney’s take on Spiderman in an Avengers movie with Tom Holland as the teenaged hero. Holland is a relatively new face to movies and the newest face to hide behind the spider mask. The Spiderman character and dialogue were written well if not a little familiar with the story arc. Mercifully, the directing pair of the Russo Brothers barely touched on Spidey’s origins, because at this point, why bother? Well, why bother with one major exception: Aunt Mae. I will leave it at that.
It will be interesting to see where Disney takes the Spiderman property from here since it has been so overplayed for the last decade. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about Holland’s ability to carry the Spiderman franchise at this point, but one thing we do know is he will undoubtedly have many opportunities to show us.
Chadwick Bosemen who played Jackie Robinson in “42” dons a bulletproof black cat suit complete with retractable claws while taking on the role of Black Panther. Even though I’m not entirely sold on the need for his character it was fun to watch him tear stuff up when he makes his appearance.
The single greatest one-armed curl in movie history
Many of you will say that Sylvester Stallone owns this title of “greatest one-armed curl in movie history” with his arm wrestling masterpiece “Over the Top,” the only film I am aware of based entirely on the concept of one armed curls. My counter to your argument is that at no point in “Over the Top” did Sylvester Stallone arm wrestle a helicopter and win. Captain America on the other hand? Well, you’ll see.
I knew what I was going to get with “Captain America Civil War” before I went in, and for the most part, I was right. But despite logic or familiarity, Marvel managed to create a good time.
I learned that even though a trick may be familiar, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and suspend your belief if only for a split second. Overall you’ll enjoy watching that coin disappear, even if only for the briefest of moments.