Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. & Scarlett Johansson
Synopsis: Political interference in the Avnegers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
Rating: 12A Duration: 147 minutes Release date: 29 April (UK)
Isn’t it odd to think about what superhero films were like before Marvel came along and built their cinematic universe? When each entry would work as a stand alone film and the trend was for three films rather than thirteen. It’s unthinkable now, that a world once existed when superhero films weren’t the norm and studios weren’t so dependant on the financial returns of these films. For better or worse, Marvel keep on giving and audiences are more than happy to receive and as long as the films are good, then who cares right!
Taking place after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War is a natural progression of both the story of Steve Rogers and the wider Marvel universe. It’s no easy task to correlate one characters arc into a film or to do that for at least ten-fifteen more and also make events seem coherent and smooth. And yet Joe and Anthony Russo have a handle on events and encapsulate everything that makes the Marvel films so enjoyable.
For those of you have that haven’t kept up to date, the events of Civil War are the consequences of the missions the Avengers have carried out since Iron Man first came on the scene. More to the point, Civil War focuses on recent events; Washington and Sokovia as well as a mission in Nigeria that goes south right at the beginning of Civil War. The aftermath is keenly felt by all involved and brings about a UN sanctioned accord which aims to bring the Avengers in line and have them work as a government funded police force. This does not sit well with everyone and the cracks in the Avengers’ relationships with each other soon start to show.
What’s interesting is that Civil War doesn’t dish out any easy answers to the questions being asked. Captain America and Iron Man both make firm cases for and against the accord and the line between right and wrong becomes politically and emotionally blurred. Both have their ideals and both are motivated in their own way to find a resolution to something that could see their team crippled from within. What makes it all the more pertinent is that the audience has grown to love these characters over the last eight years and seeing them fall out is made more emotional because of it.
While Civil War sets a serious tone overall, the usual Marvel traits are all still here. There is a noticeable sense of humour that is never forced and seems all the more natural even given the very extraordinary nature of what we are involved with. It’s also satisfying that despite introducing several new characters, they all interact so well and their introductions seem natural instead of put upon. You never once doubt the friendship that these characters share or that they will do anything for the other.
It’s unfortunate then, that some characters do suffer for screen time and meaning. Vision, for all his beauty and wisdom suffers for not having much to do. This though, really comes from the fact that no one knows what to do with him and the character seems forced upon the directors as Marvel see a use for him further down the line rather than in the here and now. Helmut Zemo’s (Brühl) machinations are as clear as mud and it seems like he was cast so the film had a clear villain for the Avengers to fight, even though the film could probably do just as well without him.
There is a sense of escalation in Civil War that has not been felt in the other Marvel films. Rather than having to fight Loki, Ultron or some other villainous counterpart, the real threat comes from within. And that makes the film all the more threatening and unpredictable. Rather than use is it as an excuse to sell another action scene, events move organically with a conclusion that desperately requires answering.
Despite all its political allusions and attempts to strain the audiences emotions, Civil War is another solid blockbuster from Marvel. One that delivers action and feeling, and most importantly, fun.