The Avengers disassemble right down the middle in Captain America: Civil War. Here’s our spoiler-free review…
This is the year of superheroes versus superheroes. In terms of both the actual content of comic book movies right now (e.g. Batman V Superman) and the battle between these competing films. The third big superhero franchise, X-Men, is yet to make its contribution, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that Captain America: Civil War has already won this fight.
Civil War’s real triumph is in the handling of its characters. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo and scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely deserve all the credit for managing to keep the personalities of the large cast of heroes centre stage. Going in I was firmly on Team Cap (after all, movies have taught us to support the lone guy going against the system). After watching, however, I can’t make up my mind, as the film explains both character’s viewpoints very well.
Tony Stark’s about-turn from volatile, self-obsessed playboy to friend of the government makes perfect sense considering his personal problems and survivor’s guilt, while Steve’s recent issues with working for authorities sporting their own agendas means he is keen to go it alone. The result is that the long-awaited fight scenes have a real impact. The first all-star smash-up is hugely exciting, with all the heroes pitching in, while the final – much more intimate – fight gets nail-bitingly tense.
Away from the main two, just about everyone in this ensemble gets their shot at the limelight. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is thankfully terrific; a fresh take on the character whose appearance here promises lots of amazing stuff to come from the webslinger. The best part is naturally how he is ingratiated into the Avengers’ world, with the scenes between him and Tony Stark being a particular delight. The same goes for Black Panther; in terms of character, the regal, stoic hero is the complete opposite from Spidey but he is likewise given a enticing debut, and a proper character arc to boot. There is also some welcome character work done on Scarlet Witch and Vision, two characters who were mostly sidelined in Age of Ultron.
Civil War isn’t perfect, of course. Partway through proceedings, the film somewhat sidesteps the fascinating argument over superhero accountability for more of a straight-forward witchhunt for Bucky. While the excitement never lets up, this does mean that some of the intelligence is lost. Once again in the MCU, the villain of the piece is one of the lesser fleshed-out elements, although this can be forgiven as he is really just a device to get the heroes at each other’s throats. What matters is that the most important elements are so well-handled these issues don’t detract from the whole.
Thanks to Civil War, the Captain America films are now arguably the most consistent superhero series out there, even though each is incredibly distinct from the others. Even if you count it as an Avengers film, it is biting on the ankles of The Avengers, swapping Joss Whedon’s wit and verve for character-driven drama. Whichever side you chose, then, Captain America: Civil War is still another example of Marvel being the winning team.
What were your thoughts on Captain America: Civil War? Let us know below!