The movie releases within the Marvel Cinematic Universe are no longer sequels or origin stories – they are chapters. More than ever, each movie seems to interlink and connect with the others almost seamlessly and effortlessly, with the studio having created a “Universe” which needs no prior explanations, no huge recaps or build. The culmination of all that work and effort seems to be Captain America: Civil War.
Not that it should have been called Captain America at all. It is, in spirit, a Captain America movie but really this could have been Avengers 2.5. It has a host of different superheroes, many of which manage to do a lot more than just cameo, and actually build to form a coherent, well-tuned and intelligent story. DC take notice, this is how it’s done.
That is no mean feat either. The fact that directors the Russo Brothers had to juggle established characters like Iron Man, Hawkeye and Black Widow with newer, less well-known characters like Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch and Vision, and still find time to include brand new characters to the Universe, all without ever feeling like anyone is short-changed, is almost an insurmountable feat, but it is accomplished. In fact, better than that, it is done well. Captain America gets a solid story throughout but there is still time for the supporting characters to each get their own journey, especially the brand new additions to the team.
This is where the Russos have their biggest success. We are due both Black Panther and Spiderman films but both feature here and both get decent screen-time. These aren’t origin stories. These are established characters which get no “proper introduction” but fit seamlessly into the movie like you knew who they were all along. It makes you wonder whether Marvel really needs to continue with origin stories at all. Spiderman certainly doesn’t need one and the way that Tom Holland plays the character, you’d think he’d been playing him for at least three films already. It is the best web-slinger we have seen yet.
This is Captain America’s movie though and Chris Evans gets to stretch both his acting and action muscles. To the credit of the Russos, this is a movie with a genuine story. The disagreement at the center of the whole movie is not a throwaway one (again, DC pay attention) and audiences will genuinely be torn on which side they stand. The way the movie presents the situation, from the excellent opening action sequence to the debate between many heroes around a conference table (that’s right, a debate scene in a superhero movie) the issue that causes the “Civil War” is one worth fighting about.
And fight they do. Anyone looking for action, excellent set-pieces and superhero mash-ups will not be disappointed. Some of the best moments in the previous Avengers movies have been when hero fights hero and there is plenty of that here. Some of the match-ups are dreams for fans and curious audiences alike and the staging of each battle is done perfectly. The airport set-piece which has been heavily used in trailers is the stand-out moment by far, but gladly, the Marvel marketing team didn’t give away one Giant spoiler which is a great, well-worked surprise.
This set-piece isn’t even the finale of the movie and gladly, the Russos move away from the usual, city-destroying finale that has plagued most Marvel movies since The Avengers first Assembled. Here we get a final battle much more intimate, personal but no less impactful. Arguably the end of Civil War is one of the better ones because of it, proving that stakes don’t have to be grand-scaled to have the desired effect.
It is also arguably the best Marvel movie yet. This is the film that every Marvel and superhero/comic fan was waiting for. The first Avengers movie placed our favourite superheros together on the screen and was brilliant because of it. Civil War places them in an interesting story with some real, lasting impact and manages to blow the first Avengers movie out of the water.
Overall, Captain America: Civil War is as ambitious as Marvel has got yet but it pays off. It is a smart, well-written superhero movie which has a real story at it’s core. It also manages to successfully juggle a huge ensemble cast of well-known and well-loved characters while still introducing not just a relatively unknown hero but the third version of Spiderman. And it is the web-slinger who manages to steal the film.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)