Captain America: Civil War is a culmination of over eight-years worth of meticulous world and character building; a rewarding pay-off for fans and non-fans alike who have patiently followed and invested in the films to date. Whereas 2012’s Avengers Assemble was responsible for bringing the various characters of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) together for the first time, it’s this third instalment in the Captain America story which feels like the keystone to the superhero franchise.
The second film of this year to feature superheroes going head to head in battle, Civil War succeeds where Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice failed, in every respect. It’s surprising that this would be the case, especially when you consider that Civil War has more than twice the amount of characters to juggle; some of which – Black Panther, as well as the first iteration of Spider-Man to fall under Marvel Studios’ creative umbrella – are introduced to us for the first time. Yet, despite having a multitude of moving parts to contend with, this feels leaner, more controlled and, above all else, more coherent than DC’s divisive BVS.
What Civil War has going for it is an extensive history to draw upon, not just from the comics, but from the line of films that have been released since Iron Man in 2008. The fact that we already know the majority of these characters – what makes them tick, what they stand for and their relationship with each other – allows the film’s directors, the Russo Brothers, to jump straight into a story which never lets up in terms of its pace, and which has considerably high stakes. For the first time in the history of the franchise, I found myself legitimately concerned for the well-being of what appear to be indestructible heroes; a comment to the film’s success considering the studio’s schedule for the next few years was released long before this came out.
The story itself is an interesting one and, as if the creatives at the studio had been listening to their criticism, addresses one of my biggest complaints about the MCU. All of the death, destruction and general building-toppling caused by the overblown and frankly boring finales of the Avengers films, are brought to the centre of Civil War. After one too many conflicts ends in the loss of innocent lives, the world’s governments feel that the team of superheroes need to be kept in check, leading to a divide between the team itself.
In the blue corner sits Captain America who believes that the proposed government interference would hinder their freedom to protect humanity, and in the red corner sits Iron Man who believes that they need to be held accountable for their actions. A rift immediately forms in the group – especially when Cap’s former friend, Bucky (aka the Winter Solider) arrives on the scene – and it isn’t long before the divided team find themselves going up against each other.
As somebody who has enjoyed but never revisited the MCU for a second time, I was amazed at just how invested I was in the people on-screen. Seeing the Avengers battle each other thrilled me in some places and broke my heart in others, which I’m sure will only be heightened for any devotees of the franchise. Each character, old and new, is given their chance to shine and some purpose to the plot. The fact that the Russo brothers manage to introduce forthcoming characters such as Black Panther and Spider-Man with some relevance to the story is particularly impressive, and I’m genuinely excited to see their future solo outings.
For every fan of the MCU, I can’t see there being anything to dislike about Captain America: Civil War. I’m not the biggest fan of superhero films in general, but I absolutely loved every minute of this. The laughs and the action are note perfect, the cast are all on top form, the story is one filled with politics and intrigue, and there’s finally a real sense of danger when it comes to the characters. Captain America: Civil War isn’t just a bloody good blockbuster, it’s Marvel at the very peak of their movie-making superpowers.
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