Captain America: Civil War is here—an ambitious, sprawling epic featuring a dozen superheroes doing battle over the question of whether the United Nations should start regulating their activities. The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is ostensibly the third Captain America movie, following that hero’s resistance to the “Sokovia Accords,” which would keep his Avengers beholden to UN interests. On the other side is Tony Stark/Iron Man, who’s racked with guilt over the destruction his superhero battles have wrought across the world and seeking to make amends.
The Atlantic’s film critic, Christopher Orr, gave Civil War a positive review on Friday. Now that the film is in theaters and earning the typical Marvel big bucks, Ta-Nehisi Coates, David Sims, Gillian White, and Matt Thompson dig into the wider political implications of its story, the deftness with which it introduces new characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther, and the film’s real-world parallels. Viewers who haven’t made it to the theaters yet, beware: Spoilers abound.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: OK. I thought it was a really, really good movie. I think people need to be aware of how easy it would be to screw up a movie like this. How many heroes are in this thing? It would be so easy to just have this be a mash of spider-webs and vibranium claws. (You know what I mean!) But it actually worked. Nothing felt forced, everyone came in when they were needed, and for the most part, everyone got an arc. I think the movie benefited a lot from being able assume people were familiar with some of the cast. There was no need for (yet another) spider bite for instance. The movie didn't try to establish Black Panther's origins. And you don't really worry about those origins because, I think, in this film and in the entire series, the Universe has been so well set up.