The latest outing of Captain America and the Avengers is perhaps the strongest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which perfectly demonstrates what filmmakers can achieve with the expanded film universe structure that every studio is currently crazy about.
When an Avengers mission causes the deaths of several innocents, the United Nations drafts the Sokovia Accords; a new law that will force the Avengers to answer to a governing body. Having seen the destruction that superheroes can bring when left unchecked, Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man, supports the bill, whilst Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, argues that by signing on, they lose their ability to choose what is right and wrong. However, the debate is further complicated by the re-emergence of Captain America’s wartime friend turned enemy the Winter Soldier, who brings the two heroes and their allies to a head, and draws in the African hero Black Panther and the mysterious Zemo, who seeks to use the conflict to bring about his own goals.
The plot itself is pretty strong. While a lot of modern comic adaptations buckle under the weight of trying to achieve too much; with too many characters and too many different plot-lines, Civil War’s directors, the Russo brothers, tie everything together perfectly. The characters all fit within their previously established histories, and everyone gets something to do. The story bounces around the world, tying in different narratives without ever losing sight of the core conflict. A conflict that remains poignant because, unlike some of the other superheroes who have beat each other up on our screens this year, these characters are actually friends.
As such, the characters (and the actors who play them) all shine. Captain America and Iron Man argue their sides in a way that audiences could support either one of them, and even when their acting in their own interests, you still want to see both of them succeed. The supporting Avengers are also brilliant, as each of them undergoes their own arch, becoming richer characters in the process.
The stand-outs, however, are the characters new to the franchise. Chadwick Boseman brings the perfect amount of brashness and regality to the role of Black Panther, whilst Tom Holland goes above and beyond as the youthful and hilarious Spider-Man; every time he’s in the frame, he’s someone you can’t take your eyes off, and his one-liners are a lot funnier than the standard quips the other characters throw out, which is very befitting of the web-slinger.
Zemo, however, is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. Although he doesn’t get as much screen-time as the heroes, he is one of the few Marvel villains whose motives you can understand, and perhaps the most intriguing part of the film is, as he points out towards the conclusion, that he doesn’t actually fail…
Even the bonus features are great. The ‘making of’ featurettes give you loads of insight into how the filmmakers and cast approached this conflict; it shows real passion, which definitely shines through in the actual film. The deleted scenes and the gag reel only back this up, as you can see all the actors having a laugh and riffing with each other as they construct one of the best super-hero movies to date.
Of course, there are some problems with the film. The theme music isn’t memorable in the slightest; and it starts and stops rather awkwardly. It will build up with the growing amounts of tension, and then suddenly stop in its tracks so that someone can make a quick quip.
The quips, at times, are similarly annoying; and, what with this being the thirteenth entry into the franchise, another of Marvel’s rather clichéd staples of their movie making. There are some scenes that seem like the things that happen are a little convenient, and some points where some viewers may start to realise just how long this film is.
But frankly, the good far outweighs the bad, and really, who cares about that stuff?
Because even with those minor problems, this film is awesome; a comic fan’s wet dream.
Dir: Anthony Russo & Joe Russon
Scr: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt & Martin Freeman
Prd: Kevin Feige
Music: Henry Jackman
DOP: Trent Opaloch
Runtime: 147 minutes
Captain America: Civil War is out on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download now