There has been highly anticipated movies for 2016, and then there’s Captain America: Civil War, a film that has had people signing blood oaths that they won’t reveal spoilers, and for the most part this review will be spoiler-free but with just enough to touch on for those who have already seen the film.
Dubbed as Avengers 2.5, Captain America: Civil War brings together an entire host of characters – some of whom we have met previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and some who we meet for the first time, it’s an eclectic group but they still create an interesting chemistry.
After my first screening, the most popular question that I received about it was whether it was better than Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is widely believed to be the best film in the franchise or whether it was going the disappointing Avengers: Age of Ultron route, and I can clearly say that although I believe the plot and motivations in Winter Soldier was more solid, I think that Civil War was a more entertaining and satisfying movie, which is basically a cop out of answering the question.
In a trend that we have heard clangs about throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Civil War ultimately deals with the repercussions after all the superhero throwdowns around the world – the battle of New York in Avengers, the HYDRA vs. SHIELD battle in Washington DC in The Winter Soldier and the destruction of the city of Sokovia in Age of Ultron, as well as other wars and battles across the MCU, most of the time they worry more about the big picture and ending the threat then the little people on the ground who are getting caught in the crossfire.
After the Avengers have one incident too many, General Ross (William Hurt) approaches them and tells them that United Nations decided to create the Sokovia Accords which basically meant that the Avengers would work under the UN and go where they are sent, and will be held responsible for their actions, unlike if they were an independent body. Our heroes are given two options – to sign and remain a member of the Avengers or not to sign and retire from superhero duties.
This divides the team, notably Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) the former who signs because of the guilt he feels over the people who have died in the debris of their battles, and the later who choses not to sign because he does not trust governing bodies – “the safest hands are still our own.”
Throwing fuel onto the fire, an incident takes place which it looks like Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) instigated, and while Steve dives out to protect his best friend at all costs from authorities, and Tony and co. are trying to arrest him, there is a confrontation, where both teams and former friends fight each other. This scene takes place at an airport and is one of the best choreography of a fight scene that I have ever seen – every character plays to their strengths, they play off each other well, and even in the heat of battle they are in character.
What I truly enjoyed about the film in comparison to the comic series is that the writers did an excellent job of depicting both sides, so much so, that at the end of the film I still couldn’t really say if I was Team Iron Man or Team Captain America, both had excellent points. The risk is high, I truly feel Tony’s pain when a woman whose son was killed in Sokovia, as he tells Steve “if we cannot accept limitations we are no better than the bad guys” this is not the reckless Tony of Iron Man 1, but I also understand Steve’s reluctance to be governed by outside forces and what that might mean, if anything we can all agree that corruption can seep through any political body.
At a running time of 2 hours and 27 minutes, Civil War is the longest Marvel film to date, but I feel like it’s still wasn’t long enough to portray all the characters’ motivations and their feelings about the Sokovia Accords, also we don’t learn exactly all the limitations of the Accords other than they cannot intervene where they aren’t assigned to. Are they provided with training? What are the policies with the new recruits? Is this just for the Avengers or for all superheroes and powered people? We know from Agents of SHIELD that many of the governments around the world know about the influx of Inhumans, would they be forced to register as well, or has SHIELD/ATCU taken care of that?
Another problem that I had was with the villain, Zemo, who Daniel Bruhl did an excellent job portraying but the character’s threat and motives were a little underwhelming for me, I wanted to fear him more, and a lot of his actions seemed more like lucky consequences that worked in his favour than an actual grand scheme. He definity pales into comparison to Loki in The Avengers and Thor, and Alexander Pierce in Winter Soldier, even in comparison to the villains on the Netflix series like Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave.
The biggest fear that I had going into Civil War was that these characters that we’ve gotten to know over the 12 films will not be written in character, that’s the problem that we run into when the characters are constantly being written by different writers – no continuity. But the characterization in this film was perfect. It was like characters like Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant Man was lifted straight out of his solo film and into this one, Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) was his usual wisecracking self, it felt like a family reunion, fights and all.
The character of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) truly got her chance to shine in this film, much more than in her debut film, Age of Ultron. We got a great grasp of the extent of her powers as she saves the day numerous times, and we also get to learn more about her emotions and character.
The highly anticipated introduction of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) were both excellently done as well as both were clear highlights of the film. Spider-Man is a character that has been done countless times, and while Andrew Garfield will always have a special place in my heart, Holland brought a fresh and young swing on the character, he also portrayed Peter Parker exactly as he is in the comics – a chatterbox full of wisecracks. For his first time onscreen Black Panther/T’Challa, offered the film a new character who was intriguing and interesting, and truly how diversity should be portrayed, a 3 dimensional character who has real emotions and makes difficult decisions.
The one problem that was prevalent is that even though it is a Captain America movie, Steve almost gets lost in the noise of the countless other characters. And I know that the point of Civil War was for the superheroes to be divided but there were times when it felt as if the film did not have enough time to elaborate on where Steve’s storyline was going. But other than that, we got a healthy bit of progression on both Steve and Tony and the entire MCU’s current status.
Should I watch it?
It’s very difficult for me not to just respond with ‘YES’ besides the whole comic book fan thing, the film is excellently written, was directed well, great acting, and has allegories to all ties of life. For those, that have been fans of the MCU this is a must see as it feels almost as if it is a pay off to fans we have been watching the films, and the Netflix and ABC series, and despite all the critiques that I had above, nothing deterred from the fact that the film was extremely enjoyable – I laughed, I cried, I gasped.
Tip: The action scenes are excellent in Imax 3D, it’s like a work of art.
Captain America: Civil War is in cinemas in various countries now, and opens in the US on May 5, 2016.