The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

Marvel’s ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is the Best Avengers Movie Yet

Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., "Captain America: Civil War" Review
Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. (Marvel Studios)


When Iron Man first came to theaters in 2008, who knew that Marvel would become such a behemoth in the movie industry that it is? Movies based on Marvel Comics had been done before this of course, but they were done by studios who bought the rights to the Marvel characters and often the results were lackluster. “Iron Man” was the first official Marvel Studios film and at the time, there was much speculation if it would attract much of an audience at all. Iron Man was considered to be a second string character behind Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Hulk which were all owned by other studios. There was also speculation about Robert Downey Jr. playing the iconic role. The film did better than anyone expected.

Since then, Marvel Studios has, for the most part, churned out consistently good movies and Captain America: Civil War is no exception. Even with its somber theme, the movie stays fun. The trailers and posters for the film hinted that it might be heavy in tone similar to the recent DC Comic movies, but unlike DC, Marvel doesn’t take its storylines too seriously. The violence is cartoonish and swearing is at a minimum. Often the film make references to how some details just don’t make sense in the real world and laugh it off rather than trying to convince us that some of these outlandish claims could really happen. They haven’t forgotten who their audience is – everyone.

Though technically this is a "Captain America film,” it really is an “Avengers movie” as it is only missing a couple of Avengers (Thor and The Hulk) and has added some new ones. It also follows the events that happened in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and very little is focused just on Steve Roger’s Captain America character.
Civil War is also a much better film than Age of Ultron. The storyline is simpler to follow and the movie takes its time to develop the characters and the rising conflict of the story. This makes for a very long movie (two and half hours) but a more enjoyable one too. Civil War feature a ton of characters, but each is introduced to the audience a little at a time. Every character gets a little “me time” to expand their character a bit. The film also does a great job of explaining more about who the Winter Soldier is and introducing Spider-Man without doing a lengthy backstory.

The Avengers are great at saving humanity from the bad guys, but they are pretty messy and leave a lot of collateral damage behind when they are done. (This is why we can’t have nice things.) The world is taking notice and is pressuring the team to follow a system of accountability, something that Tony “Iron Man” Stark agrees with but Steve “Captain America” Rogers does not knowing that they would only be able to operate as heroes if and when the government allowed. Tension naturally grows between the two and various Avengers take sides leading up to a “civil war” among the ranks.

Two lines sum up the whole argument:
“If we can’t accept limitations, we’re no better than the bad guys.”—Tony Stark
“That’s not the way I see it.”—Steve Rogers
None of the characters hate each other and those on Iron Man’s side plead with the others to not go rogue as they will be put in a position to have to stop the offenders. In addition to this main storyline, we are introduced to the character of Black Panther and Spider-Man. Ant-Man is brought in as well. Surprisingly, it all works. The end result is a flick that has humor, heart and even challenges a little. Friendship, love and doing what is right are key elements, but most of all, “Captain America: Civil War” is fun. There is so much more that could be said about this film, but the less you know ahead of time, the better you will enjoy it.

Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron-Man), Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Don Cheadle (Colonel James Rhodes), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May Parker), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Frank Grillo (Crossbones), Martin Freeman (Everett Ross), William Hurt (Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross), Daniel Bruhl (Zemo) and of course the obligatory cameo of Marvel creator Stan Lee.

In addition to the extremely popular Zootopia and The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War could be giving Disney three movies in the top ten this weekend.

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