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Captain America: Civil War is not just the best film produced by Marvel Studios, but one of the most important studio films in the blockbuster era. While it is undeniablely part of a globally significant brand, finally there is a blockbuster that isn’t focused on world building as it is in character building. Not only is it a great example of what a comic book movie can be, but it serves as a reminder that eight years on, the Marvel universe is still relevant.

Following a series of missions with costly civilian casualties, a new law is put into effect by the U.N. restricting the actions of any and all advanced individuals. With the Avengers, forced to sign a contract, the team is split into factions led by Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), who support the proposal, and Steve Rogers/ Captain America (Chris Evans), who are against it. This not only sparks an interesting political debate, but also leads for greater development of the characters than ever seen before.

Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have become synonymous with these characters, but with an excellent script their motivations are more clear; Captain America is determined to prevent a coup of which he sees potential corruption, and Iron Man is desperate to take responsibility for the actions of the team he created. The entire returning cast is excellent in conveying this ideological conflict, but the film’s new additions are among its strongest. Tom Holland not only makes for the most convincing Spider-Man in history, but also adds a great dosage of comic relief. Chadwick Boseman adds additional dramatic heft as Black Panther, and Danie Bruhl’s Baron Zemo is a much subtler and politicized villain than Marvel has ever attempted.

In a world of shameless pre planned franchises and endless reboots, Captain Ameica: Civil War is a testament to what can be achieved in a cinematic universe. These characters have been established over time, and the film exploits their depth and life to maximum dramatic impact. What Marvel has accomplished is nothing short of remarkable, and considering their track record, that is saying something. Grade: A

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