Also Read: ‘Captain America,’ ‘Batman v Superman’ Reviews Ignite Nutty Fan Conspiracy Furor (Commentary)
The comic book world thrives when both DC and Marvel are firing on all cylinders. But the gap in quality between "Captain America: Civil War" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is a chasm. They both address the problems that come with superheroes having unchecked power, but Marvel tackles the topic in a far more thought-provoking way while remaining a fun blockbuster. Here are the key differences between the two.
For starters, the ideological conflict between Cap and Iron Man is fully developed. Each side makes a compelling case as to whether or not the Avengers need U.N. oversight, and Steve and Tony debate just as much as they fight.
In "BvS," Superman and Batman barely express their differences face-to-face in any manner besides fisticuffs. Superman's lines are kept to a minimum, while Batman's motives for fighting flip-flop from not trusting Superman's god-like power to deep-seeded issues related to his parents' death. Without a clear understanding as to why they fight, there's little reason for the audience to get invested emotionally.
While most of the supporting characters in "BvS" serve the two main heroes and do little else, "Civil War" takes the time to show how the schism in the Avengers is affecting everyone on the team. Black Widow, War Machine, Black Panther, and Scarlet Witch get personal subplots that are crucial to the complete package.
Other heroes, like Ant-Man, do their part by balancing the tone of "Civil War" between drama and light-hearted action instead of overdosing on seriousness like "BvS." Snarky jokes between the supporting cast helps the dramatic moments feel poignant rather than exhausting.
Despite being just four years removed from "The Dark Knight Rises," Zack Snyder
decided to rehash the death of Bruce Wayne's parents in a opening sequence that no superhero-loving kid should have to sit through. For adults, it only served as a reminder that we've been through this before.
"Civil War," by contrast, knows that its audience is already aware of Spiderman's origins and "with great power comes great responsibility." Instead of bringing that out again, the Russo Bros. and their team focus on Peter Parker's youthful enthusiasm and use his origins as a quick reference point for why he joins Team Iron Man.
While "Civil War" has the advantage of being part of a beloved series, it handles that advantage well by weaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe seamlessly into its story. It builds hype for future films organically through the plot and pays off character arcs established in several previous films like "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
"Batman v Superman," meanwhile, feels more like an extended trailer for the DC Extended Universe and next year's "Justice League." Snyder goes out of his way to reference other heroes without bringing them into the plot. Also, Lex Luthor's schemes are too spread out between the immediate story and his master plans for a full series of films.
Marvel also did a better job managing hype. Info on "Civil War" came out in controlled bits and withheld the best parts of the fight scenes. The Marvel heroes go at each other repeatedly and in different contexts, which means that fans are far more likely to get what they paid for.
"BvS" did the polar opposite. Desperate to build hype for the DCEU, Warner Bros. revealed the best their movie had to offer in the trailer. As it turned out, the big showdown between Bats and Supes only lasted about five minutes and wasn't nearly as exciting as fans hoped.
But more than anything else, "Civil War" is a profoundly human film. It's not just about Captain America and Iron Man. It's about Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. It's about T'Challa, Natasha Romanova, Bucky Barnes and Wanda Maximoff. The full ramifications of being a superhero are on display, and the Avengers are allowed to question themselves without losing their desire to make the world better.
Despite the best efforts of Henry Cavill
and Ben Affleck
, "Batman v Superman" is too cold and cynical to inspire empathy. Superman questions himself, but his self-reflection only leads him to give up on himself and humanity. Batman's bonding moment with Supes is ignited by realizing that their moms are both named Martha. For all its brooding tone and attempts to be serious drama, "BvS" failed to resonate emotionally.