It was only just a month ago that we were discussing the DC comics version of Superheroes caught in a struggle against each other. The results were disappointing and mixed for a lot of us. Now it’s Marvel’s attempt in Captain American: Civil War that pits friends and Avengers against each other. The results are better in almost every way. Entertaining, fun and at times thoughtful, it’s a far better Marvel film than most recent endeavours too. Find out why in our review.
Captain America and a small team of heroes find themselves being held to account for another mission that involved civilian casualties. The United Nations sets to move an accord which will make the Avengers accountable to them for all their actions and those that don’t sign will either be forced into retirement or considered a criminal. This divides The Avenger right down the middle when Bucky/ The Winter Soldier seems to be responsible for a bomb that explodes at the very signing of the UN accords. As one faction lead by Tony Stark seeks to hunt down Bucky, another lead by Steve Rogers begins to see something more behind the obvious.
Captain American: Civil War has been marketed as an action movie and it is what you would hope for. Epic but still focused. It’s that wonderful mix of team work and witty one-liners that was developed by Joss Wheedon in his Avengers movie. The Russo brothers did something with The Winter Solider in that blended more gravity and a grounded feel to the action that was more reminiscent of a spy or action movie. This continues here but there is still the wonderful banter and playfulness of Avengers with the more realistic touches of Winter Solider. The airport scene you’ve seen for the trailer lives up to the hype and is arguably the best we have seen in a Marvel movie. Yet it’s the final fight between Stark and Rogers which will break you. It’s personal and bloody and you can feel that it’s more than just a physical fight.
What Captain America: Civil War must be congratulated on is actually managing to argue for both sides quite well without bringing to story to a holt. Actually whole sequences present the arguments in effective ways. The airport sequence for example is an example of chaos and anarchy when Superheroes try and hold each other accountable, while the car/motorcycle and superhero scene is an example of when superheroes are not held to account. It’s a credit that they make complex arguments more than just exposition and entertaining. It’s also worth noting that if anything makes this more a Captain America movie than an Avengers one is that Steve Rogers arguments are far more humane and sympathetic than Tony Stark’s ever are. It’s also quite emotional as two friends clearly separated by the shades of grey in the world than anyone being truly right.
At this point it seems weird to comment on the ridiculously familiar returning cast but all fit well back into their old roles and are as always we the audience associate them hero/actor and nothing will change that and separate them in this movie,.
One thing Marvel movies have struggled with is this need to introduce elements and characters for future movies. A token scene here, an easter-egg there and an after-credit scene and you realise you have suffered through some of the most awkward introductions. Captain America: Civil War introduces are to two new characters, Black Panther and Spiderman and both are highlights of the movie. They don’t have token cameos but are supporting characters who have screen time across several scenes. Maybe it’s allowing them time to be known that helps. Spiderman/Peter Parker as played by relative newcomer Tom Holland is awkward, funny and a bit of a dork in other words perfect. Black Panther is brooding, focused and yet not without honour or awareness enough to know he was wrong unlike say Tony Stark.
Captain America: Civil War promises to shake things up as far as the Marvel universe goes and at the end of the day I’m wondering how much has actually changed. It’s clear that while hero fought hero it almost felt like a couple of siblings fighting each other. Their conflict costs little and while avoiding spoilers the core conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers doesn’t feel beyond repair. Don’t get me wrong the moments are emotional and effective when it all goes down especially in the final act but at the end of the day what did it cost them. Their friendship. The notion that this is a war is overselling it a little bit. Marvel should look at one of its own Disney siblings, Star Wars and see what it’s like to kill off a beloved characters and the impact that can have. This feels safe. It might mean the main players are in different starting points when next they meet but little else.
Maybe a whole lot of this comes from an enemy without much menace at all and that is Zemo (Daniel Brühl). A vaguely sympathetic former general who has lost much he acts merely as a plot device. Never given any room to move or breathe he is more the story’s means by wish to push the conflict between the two factions of heroes off the ledge. Zemo is a string in a long list of bad guys lacking spunk or anything resembling something we should fear. But when the story hamstrings what’s you can do to the ‘good guys’ it seems like a problem not likely to resolve itself.
Over the last year or so I’ve felt a little over the superhero movie. As if the popularity of these things reaching critical mass has meant I’m just done with this type of movie ever three months. They say familiarity breeds contempt and Captain America: Civil War is kind of familiar territory. Yet I felt myself not as exhausted or cynical by the whole endeavour. It doesn’t necessarily feel fresh particularly if you’ve seen an Avengers film but the degree of competence which the Russo brothers bring to the proceedings helps at least shed some of the dead weight.
There is dead weight though. It’s the constant jet setting between international setting, it’s the need to have a hundred different agency to replace SHIELD, it’s having characters usually played by a high profile actor to play a small part, it’s the need to have scenes between every person starring in the movie it is a movie about Captain America. None of it is bad but then again none of it is essential in what is a long movie.
Captain America: Civil War Review Cheat Sheet:
Captain America: Civil War is an epic and at times emotional film that is constantly entertaining. Introducing new and enjoyable new characters for the future of the Marvel universe that look fascinating as the old familiars fight and fracture. It is a continuation more of the good work of Captain America: The Winter Soldier rather than the misstep that was Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you’re in for the super hero ride than this will keep you going with its quality execution.
+ Returning cast all fits back into familiar characters well
+ Action that is both grounded and playful and always entertaining.
+ Emotional story beats that help flesh out the arguments of both side of the Civil War
+ Black Panther and Spiderman paint a most excitable future for the Marvel Universe
– Lack of consequence to the actual Civil War
– Bunch of unnecessary details makes the story feel too convoluted.