At the time of writing, Captain America: Civil War hasn’t been released in North America but here in the UK, it’s been out for a few days. Myself and Mrs Earth-Prime went to see it on the weekend so here’s my spoiler-filled review – US readers be warned, I will be divulging plot points so, if you don’t want to read them, don’t scroll beyond the big picture below.
Still here? Okay, here we go.
The Avengers, led by Cap, attempt to take down Crossbones in Lagos and while they succeed, their actions cause the accidental deaths of a dozen or so civilians. It’s this mistake that leads the United Nations to come up with the Sokovia Accords which plan to place limits on the Avengers’ actions, allowing them to act only when the UN says they can. This move is agreed by Iron Man after he’s confronted by the mother of a young man who died during the Sokovian disaster as seen in Age of Ultron. Cap, however, doesn’t agree, arguing that personal freedom and choosing when to get involved as opposed to waiting to be told to do so, is the better path. When Cap’s old friend Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, resurfaces and bombs the UN meeting to ratify the Accords, Cap and Falcon go after him against Iron Man’s wishes.
This sets up two sides with Cap leading his people on one, Iron Man on the other. There’s another storyline running through the whole thing as well, with Baron Zemo manipulating the Winter Soldier into committing various crimes, reactivating the brainwashing that the Soviets put in place. This leads to the confrontation at the end which was Zemo’s goal all along – Cap and Bucky have tracked him to the Winter Soldier’s old Siberian training base and Iron Man, by now with his own regrets about his decisions, comes to make peace after finding out Zemo’s behind recent events. Once they’re all in place, however, Zemo reveals security footage of the night Iron Man’s parents died which shows that it wasn’t a car accident after all, but the Winter Soldier himself who killed them. Needless to say, this sends Iron Man over the edge, forcing the big fight between him, Cap and Bucky which doesn’t end well for any of them.
There’s a heck of a lot more in there as well – it’s a long, dense film with just about every character (and there’s a lot) getting a decent amount of screen time. Black Panther, one of the new guys, gets an excellent introduction – there’s no real need for an origin story in his forthcoming film as everything we need to know is explained succinctly here and he’s allowed to just get on with being damn cool and interesting. And yeah, the new Spider-Man is entertaining and cool but honestly, I’m more interested in the Black Panther – I think we all know who Spider-Man is and what he’s about so let’s find out about someone new.
As with pretty much all of the Marvel films, there’s a ton of action, explosions and fight scenes – and if anything, the frenetic editing of the fight scenes is about the only thing I didn’t like here – but there’s also humour, fun and warmth. Sure, there’s a few laugh out loud moments, but there’s characters here who genuinely like each other and you get to see them interact in a variety of ways and that’s why the confrontations work so well. When the two teams face off at the airport or, at the end, when it’s just Cap, Bucky and Iron Man, you can’t help feeling a little sad that it’s come to this. You want these people not to go down these paths, to work things out before it all goes to hell – even though you know it’s going to happen anyway.
The last big superhero film before this was Batman vs Superman where the confrontation was forced and contrived. You didn’t really care why they were fighting, you just wanted to see them on screen together. CA:CW works so, so much better than BvS because it’s not contrived; it raises serious questions about some ethical dilemmas and tries to provide a coherent answer to them, allowing the audience to choose between them and, hopefully, feeling some empathy and sympathy for one side or the other. It proves that you can have a serious superhero films which is still fun and engaging, something that BvS was anything but.
And something else that CA:CW did infinitely better than BvS – all the action scenes were in daylight which meant you could actually see what was going on!
In short, this latest Marvel film is very well done with almost nothing to really fault it except, as I mentioned, the frantic editing of some of the fight scenes.
I may be a DC comics fan at heart, but Marvel has me when it comes to the cinema.