WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? – 9/10.
When it comes to superheroes it seems as if people are always trying to make you choose a side; Batman or Superman, Captain America or Iron Man, and of course, DC or Marvel. In terms of comics it’s a pretty even split, with both DC and Marvel having stronger and weaker titles amongst their catalogue. But when it comes to movies even the most diehard DC loyalist would have to admit that Marvel has the undoubtable edge. While DC is desperate to launch their cinematic universe in one fell swoop, Marvel has spent the best part of a decade slowly developing theirs. They have invested time in introducing non-comic readers to the Avengers: from institutions such as The Hulk and Captain America, to less familiar names such as Vision and Falcon.
Even the most casual of viewers has an investment in these characters, which makes Captain America: Civil War all the more compelling. Loosely based on Mark Miller’s comic event of the same name, the film follows on from the aftermath of Age of Ultron. Despite saving the world from Ultron (a threat they themselves created) the Avengers still left a high body count in Sokovia and this isn’t an isolated incident. When a mission in Lagos goes wrong it is time for Earth’s mightiest heroes to be held accountable. This comes in the form of a series of legislations spearheaded by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Consumed by his own guilt, Tony Stark supports the bill whereas Captain America sees the danger of handing over control of the Avengers to politicians. This signals the beginning of the end for their super-bromance.
Things go from bad to worse when Cap’s brainwashed bestie, Bucky AKA The Winter Soldier, is accused of a bombing at meeting of UN delegates. Amongst the victims is the King of Wakanda whose son, T’Challa, dons the ceremonial armour of the Black Panther to take his revenge. With Cap determined to prove Bucky’s innocence and Iron Man resolved to bring him in, the battle lines are drawn as the Avengers choose sides in the break up to end all break ups. Representing Team Cap is Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man and Hawkeye and in the red corner; Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Widow, Vision, War Machine, and of course the much hyped addition of Spider-Man.
While Civil War is very much a Captain America film it actually manages to be a far more successful Avengers film than Age of Ultron. Like Batman V Superman, Ultron buckled under the weight of its own ambition. It was a crowded affair that seemed more concerned with franchise building than concise story telling. While Civil War introduces several new characters and undoubtedly expands the MCU ever further, it doesn’t achieve this at the expense of the narrative. Directors Anthony & Joe Russo will also be helming Avengers: Infinity War, and Civil War proves that they are more than capable of managing a story with lots of moving parts. Everything in Civil War works, nothing feels rushed or forced. Put simply, this is one of Marvel’s best films to date.
Most of the cast have been playing their roles for so long now that it’s becoming hard to separate them from their characters. Chris Evans has Steve Rogers down to pat, bringing the perfect blend of earnest nobility and warrior strength to the part and it goes without saying that Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark. The film is vastly superior to the saga on which it is loosely based where Stark was essentially portrayed as the villain. Here Tony’s motivations make a lot more sense and he cuts a sympathetic figure, particularly in regards to the wounds he still bears over the death of his parents. Civil War is a film that isn’t afraid to challenge the notions of right and wrong or heroes and villains. These characters have been presented as gods but here we see them at their most human.
While it is always good to see the returning faces of the MCU, the majority of us have been waiting a long time to see Black Panther and Spider-Man in a Marvel film. Chadwick Boseman is a revelation as T’Challa, he carries himself perfectly as a young prince who is wise beyond his years but also as a physical force to be reckoned with. Civil War does a fantastic job of introducing a character that most fans will be unfamiliar with and setting the stage for the upcoming Black Panther film. Of course Spider-Man needs no introduction, which means the film doesn’t have to waste any time on a backstory that everyone already knows. For those expecting a brief cameo, prepare to be pleasantly surprised as Spidey features prominently in the film and he is absolutely perfect.
Civil War is far from a light hearted affair as friendships are torn apart in a brutal, physical fashion, but the MCU has always excelled at finding the perfect balance between a serious tone and a sense of fun. We cover a lot of heavy ground over 147 minutes but it neither drags nor feels ‘joyless’, which is a criticism that can be levelled against other films in the genre. Marvel also consistently delivers when it comes to action and awe inspiring set pieces. The choreography and effects are some of the best we have ever seen and every fight feels unique. Everyone is given an opportunity to showcase their talents, but more than this they are given the room to grow as characters. New relationships are formed and there is a sense of excitement about what could come next.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo plays a substantial part in the film but he shares little in common with his namesake. Sadly he is relegated to a bit part player but despite this it is good to see Marvel finally featuring a ‘villain’ with some depth.
- Anyone who is criticising Tom Holland’s youthful appearance has clearly never read a comic book. Spider-Man gained his powers as a teenager making Holland a far more suitable choice than his predecessors.
- It was nice to see the seeds of the relationship between Wanda and Vision sown in this film, hopefully we will get to see this explored further in Phase 3.
- In the interest of remaining spoiler free let me just say that it was great to see a certain character make a BIG impression during the Avengers vs Secret Avengers showdown.