REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War

Of course, this isn’t to say Captain America: Civil War is this total morose, angst-ridden character drama, even though it pulls those elements together in the same way Winter Solider pulls at being a political thriller. There’s thrill and spills a-plenty to satisfy the long-term superhero fan, culminating in the airport battle scene teased in the trailers. Rest assured that this scene, despite being promoted like Hell, isn’t a scene the remainder of the film rest on to succeed. It’s the one scene where all the Avengers come together, or rather against each other, at the end result is a fun, fluid action sequence that’s delightfully charged in a way few other MCU films are.

And of course, we can’t reveal such a scene without revealing the latest Peter Parker and newcomer Black Panther. Let me tell you something folks… Black Panther rocks my world, and I’ve been waiting for this kind of Peter Parker since the first Sam Ramimi Spider-Man flick back in 2002. Tom Holland perfects an adorkable personality for the web-slinger that’s tailor-made to get you pumped for Spider-Man: Homecoming next year. Stepping even further away from internal dramas, Civil War finds time for fun and laughs, and not all of them are from Stark, or even wise-cracking Scott Lang. One big laugh comes from… Bucky. Yep, Bucky! To be specific, it’s the moment where Steve and Sharon Carter share feelings whilst Bucky and Sam wait in the car, and all Bucky can do is demand Sam move his seat forward for more leg room. It’s a silly, inconsequential moment, and it’s a moment that throws you, yet somehow fits well into this otherwise straight-faced affair.

But with all these characters thrown together, what of the plot? It’s true that the first half is an overly slow-burning affair, but throughout these two-and-a-half-hours, not a scene is wasted. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely compliment the Russo Brother’s sense of craft with a fairly intricate story that uses the Avengers as platforms for the worst roadtrip Steve and Bucky will ever have to endure. However, having your supporting characters being the Avengers, of all characters, this does mean there isn’t as much screen-time for Cap as one might like, particularly when compared to Winter Solider. Indeed, the airport combat scene slams the breaks on the plot so we can thrill in seeing Peter Parker awkwardly introducing himself to Steve with fanboy giddiness, Sam and Bucky trade insults, Spider-Man using Star Wars references to take down an Ultraman-sized Ant-Man, and Vision unwittingly bringing his own fears to life by seemingly killing Rhodey.

But plot and character go hand-in-hand with great aplomb here. This is a far more character-driven story than Winter Solider, which perhaps is just as well, as once you pick away at the plot itself, then you may find yourself underwhelmed. It’s not bad, or anything, it’s just… not entirely original. The crux of Civil War’s plot sees Baron Zemo, a survivor of the Sokovia battle, attempting to turn the Avengers against each other in an attempt to seek revenge for the Avengers accidentally killing his family during Sokovia. An underdeveloped villain who’s motives are admittedly smothered by the film’s other goings-on results in Zemo’s plans coming off as rejected Winter Solider concepts. However, Zemo’s desire for revenge against the Avengers highlight’s the film’s themes of accountability, giving us another piece of the puzzle to comfortably slip together into the larger picture.

Ultimately, watching Captain America: Civil War is like watching the runaway train scene in Spider-Man 2. Peter has to stop the train, protect the passengers, cause as little damage as possible, and ultimately confront Doctor Octopus. Captain America: Civil War has to present us with a legitimate third chapter in Steve Roger’s story, make sure the whole affair doesn’t descend into a throwaway Avengers film, cause as little damage as possible, and ultimately confront a waiting mob of movie critics and comic book fans.

Much like Peter’s efforts, it achieves all of this, but only just. You can see the film buckling under the weight of it’s own balancing act, but that might be the point. This is an exhaustive story for our beloved heroes, who’s worlds are turned upside down and left shaken in the process. Captain America: Civil War‘s lose, scrambling nature matches this method of character development, and on that level, the film succeeds, although the downside here is that you’re positively buggered if Civil War is your first MCU film.

Still, Captain America: Civil War mixes popcorn thrills with emotional beats and a few unexpected twists into a calculated, well-trimmed superhero flick that just about manages to stay on top of things. It teeters, wobbles, and almost totally slips in giving us every available Avenger, a satisfying third act for Steve, and setting up the MCU Spider-Man and Black Panther. But everything presented to us here has such heart and entertainment value that it’s difficult not to get swept up in all the drama. And when you get a superhero film that mixes heart, entertainment and drama as well as this, who are we to complain?

What did you make of Captain America: Civil War? Epic superhero showdown or overblown comic book fodder? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara