Not the masterpiece its been touted to be, Captain America: Civil War is still a satisfying, thrilling film and great addition to the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. A culmination of collateral damage caused by the Avengers has forced the United Nations to take action against them through an oversight committee. This committee splits the Avengers in two with Steve Rogers being the voice against it and Tony Stark the Avenger supporting its necessity. With events manipulated by the villain Helmut Zemo, the return of Roger’s long-lost friend Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier and the arrival of new heroes in the form of Black Panther and Spider-Man, the conflict turns ugly as the former allies go to war.
There is a lot to like about Civil War but it’s not perfect, it follows the Marvel formula very well but I felt that the story didn’t go all the way. This film has great action, humour, performances and the directors Joe and Anthony Russo deliver on that front very well. When it comes to the real dramatic weight of the film it does have its moments but I feel the film couldn’t go all the way because of the growing nature of this franchise. You get invested in their conflict but the danger is lacking at points, you know that none of the big players are going to die and even if they do they will come back. There’s going to be an Avengers 3, various solo movies, all these actors have massive contracts so how can you make an audience fearful for the characters lives?
The film builds to what seems to be an emotionally devastating conflict but it doesn’t fully deliver. War leaves irreparable collateral damage but at the end I was left with a feeling that everything was going to be okay, there are going to be some problems but they’ll all team up again in Avengers 3 no problem. However this issues don’t take away from the enjoyability of the film, it’s a blast watching these actors bringing their characters to life and watching the actual fight between all 12 heroes is jaw dropping. Your eyes are glued to that screen as you watch combinations of fantastic fight scenes: Spider-Man verses Falcon, Black Panther vs Hawkeye, Ant-Man against Iron Man. This spectacle mixed with the jokes can undercut the serious dramatic tension but honestly it’s so much fun to watch you have to give it a pass.
The massive influx of characters in this film does mean this is not Captain America film. This an Avengers movie, while narrative focus is on Cap at times, Tony Stark gets just as much focus if not more. Stark goes through serious character growth in this film, its Downey Jr’s best performance since the first Iron Man film and you can see a serious change in his character by the end of this film. Even with other characters the character development is clear: Black Panther, Wanda Maximoff, Vision all have arcs with resolutions. With Captain America he doesn’t seem to have one, the film has him admit that his weak spot is Bucky but after he’s reunited with him, the film doesn’t have him go through a realisation as other characters do.
The Russo’s balance all the characters very well, not everyone gets equal screen time but they all seem to serve a purpose. Many of characters have a story driven reason for being involved in the conflict mostly personal belief or loyalty to another character but then there are characters who appear in this film mainly so they are participants in the massive battle. Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Spider-Man are in this film just for the final battle, the Russo’s are able to use these characters to show the influence that Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have on this world. Most of these story lines with the characters get their set up for the next movie, only a few characters you’re left scratching your head wondering what happened.
The performances in this film are what makes this great, there are several highlights that you’ll leave with this film, mainly the knockout performances from the new heroes. Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland as Black Panther and Spider-Man are fantastic introductions to these characters. Boseman has to a force to him with this character, Panther seems unstoppable at times and his arc in the film works extremely well. Holland will have you laughing with every line he has, watching Spider-Man interact with every hero is amazing. Paul Rudd, Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Ant-Man, Wanda and Vision are also great standouts, Rudd bringing his comedic chops to great delight and Olsen and Bettany finding new dimensions with their characters. I found Vision’s arc in this film very compelling. Finally praise needs go to Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, the power he brings to this film is astonishing because he isn’t afraid to play him as an antagonist but also as a flawed hero.
Captain America: Civil War is a film that’s more than Avengers punching each other in the face. It’s a film that intended to explore the collateral damage and worldwide effect of superheroes which I thought was very compelling. With a detour to the motivations as it becomes all about the Winter Soldier and the personal relationships these characters have with one another. Whether your “Team Cap” or “Team Iron Man” the film presents both arguments well that you leave the theatre debating with your friends on who was right. This film doesn’t go all the way with its potential but you are left excited for the future especially with the new characters introduced. This is not Marvel’s finest hour but its a damn good one.