CAPTAIN AMERICA : CIVIL WAR
Dir: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle
4.5 STARS (out of 5)
Comic book movies make up a huge amount of box office money – and indeed the number of films that are on the listings for your average multiplex – and Civil War was always set to be one of this year’s biggest comic draws. Following on from DC’s attempt to ignite their own cinematic universe with Batman V Superman and the unexpected worldwide success of the R-Rated Deadpool, there was always plenty riding on this latest installment in the Avengers line to do well both critically and financially. Thankfully, as a movie in its own right and as a continuation of a saga that doesn’t seem like it’s going to end any time soon, it more than delivers.
Civil War lays things down as The Avengers – comprised of a number of high-profile superheroes including the likes of Captain America (aka Steve Rogers), Iron Man (aka Tony Stark) and Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff) – face up to the possibility of a United Nations intervention after a number of high-scale interventions from the team start to cause more and more innocent casualties. The thought of this instantly creates a divide between Stark and Rogers, as one favors oversight and the other independence – and in the middle of this saga, the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes, returns having been programmed to cause chaos and further create problems within the ranks. What ensues is a battle as to decide which is truly the greater good, as matters escalate to an all-out war as the title suggests.
As comic book movies go, this is easily one of the most satisfying you’ll see this year. Where films such as Batman V Superman dwindled in terms of script and focus, Civil War succeeds in that it satisfies viewer thirst for action, intrigue and plot twists without saturating anyone in too much of one and too little in another. Despite the movie technically being a Captain America instalment, there is much airtime given to as many Avengers and associated vigilantes as possible, all superbly cast and continuing to carry their individual backstories and spandex off with style. Evans and Downey Jr. carry much of the dramatic tension on very capable shoulders, while supporting Avengers in the form of Johansson, Stan and Boseman all apply their own twists on the tale, interweaving between the big guns to apply further depth and charisma to the cast.
Civil War also succeeds on being just the right amount of amusing to not detract from the action, with Rudd’s Ant-Man and Holland’s debuting Spider-Man offering much in the way of the movie’s tongue-in-cheek moments and awkward but well-timed humor. Certainly, this is what many feel Batman V Superman was missing, and while the DC Universe can be stated to be much darker and grittier than Marvel’s stories in many ways, a gentle application of humor and side-story allows the whole film to digest a lot easier – and certainly, despite its perhaps too-lengthy runtime, Civil War’s pacing is nothing short of precise.
Fans of the franchise will have plenty to chew on here as the movie delivers on its promised Civil War in a huge way in the middle of the picture, with a battle that lasts as long as it needs to – and with further twists from there on out that may surprise even the most ardent and suspicious of movie viewers, it’s safe to say that this very much ticks as many boxes as it can. The theatre I viewed the movie in was full of some of the most enthused and entertained cinemagoers I’ve witnessed this year thus far, making it clear that it was a definite winner in many books.
The stunt work continues to impress and, visually, this is one of the best comic book movies around. There are new twists on the Iron Man suit, you’ll get a Stan Lee cameo when you least expect it, and there is, of course, a post-credits teaser that promises to offer a closer look at one of Marvel’s supposed upcoming titles – which I’ll not spoil for you before you go.
Civil War gives us just enough Spider-Man and Black Panther to be eager to see their own movies; with Holland and Boseman respectively excelling in their on-screen origins and delivering two very different suited vigilantes. Anyone looking forward to a grittier side to Marvel will be looking forward to Black Panther, while it certainly seems that the new Spider-Man characterisation is more awkward, yet more skilled and fallible in equal measure than any Peter Parker that has come before.
Overall, it’s hard to say whether or not Civil War is worthy of recommendation to a wide audience – as we are once again treading familiar territory to Deadpool – but not only will Avengers and comic book fans be in hog’s heaven for the entirety of the runtime, but many moviegoers may find themselves surprisingly entertained if they’re new to the franchise altogether. There have been few other movies this year that appear to have known their key audience so well, and at the same time know how to execute a fast-paced, plentiful plot with gusto, charm and above all, joy. There is much to see and (pardoning the pun) marvel at with Civil War, and it’s hard not to understand why so much is riding on this picture. The big question is now, of course, will X-Men : Apocalypse outdo the Avengers? That, we shall have to wait and find out.