RELEASED: 6th May 2016
DISTRIBUTED BY: Disney
DIRECTED BY: Anthony & Joe Russo
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Marcus & Stephen McFeely
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Henry Jackman
STARRING: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Martin Freeman, Frank Grillo, Daniel Brühl and William Hurt
It’s been ten years since the MCU began with Iron Man. In those nine years, super-hero films have become a more common occurrence than ever before. Each film is released to varying success; for many, myself included, BvS was a low point, whilst other films, like The Avengers hit a high.
And then there’s Captain America: Civil War. By the time Civil War had been out for fifteen hours here in the United Kingdom, I’d already seen it twice. That alone should tell you where I stand on the film.
But here’s a little more detail anyway:
After the devastating battles of The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and the opening scenes of this very film, the governments of the world have had enough. The Sokovia Accords are passed; they decree that the Avengers must answer to the United Nations; they will be regulated, and can only go into action when the U.N. says so.
Steve Rogers, obviously sceptical of government oversight after the events of The Winter Soldier, opposes the new law. Meanwhile, Tony Stark, who feels guilt over creating Ultron, backs it. Things are further complicated when Steve’s best friend, Bucky, is implicated in the death of King T’Chakka of Wakanda. Refusing to sign the Sokovia Accords, but desperate to prove his friends innocence, Steve must work outside the law to do what he thinks is right.
Therein lies the beauty of Civil War. Both sides are right. Although Steve is mostly motivated by his need to save his friend, his view that The Avengers should be able to act without strict oversight that limits their capacity makes sense. Similarly, Tony’s belief that The Avengers need to buy back some public trust and have set boundaries also makes a lot of sense. So much so that you may go through the whole film, and not have landed on any particular ‘correct outcome’.
This leads to a fascinating clash of ideals in the film, and works well because both central characters have been built delicately over the course of their respective film series’. This in turn allows for all the other characters to get some time in the spotlight. Perhaps the most impressive examples of this are the introductions of Spider-Man and Black Panther. Both are fleshed-out; we get a full understanding of their characters; what drives them and how they act in certain situations. Spider-Man brings the perfect amount of levity to the film’s biggest skirmish and Black Panther helps drive the plot forward with his relentless desire to avenge his father.
That’s because character is key in this film. So much so that I feel even the true villain of the piece, Zemo, overcomes Marvel’s usual flaw of weak villains. He’s not bombastic or overtly threatening, but his reasoning is fair; his plan is beautifully devious and the things he sets in motion will hugely impact the next phase of Marvel movies.
Of course, there are weak points to the film, although they’re hard to find. Whilst the Russo’s perfectly juggle everything on the playing field; the film itself might not sate the appetites of comic fans who want a true-to-comics adaptation. The rivalry between Steve and Tony is masterfully done, but when it comes down to Avengers vs Avengers fights, there’s only the big airport scene that you’ve probably seen in the trailers. But that in itself is absolutely fantastic.
In fact, the story that we do get is done so well, it’s hard to complain about anything else (except, maybe, the moments where Spider-Man is very obviously CGI).
Overall, Civil War features great direction, beautiful visuals, fantastic acting, and a rich and powerful story that changes up the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a big way. If you’re looking for a recommendation for ‘best superhero movie’, you’d be hard pressed to find one that bypasses Civil War.
I give it:
I also reviewed this film for VultureHound magazine back at the Home Entertainment release. You can read that review here.