Review: Captain America: Civil War

[Warning: Spoilers below]

Team Iron Man represent. Also, Spider-Man. SPIDER-MAN.

I won’t judge you if you side with old man Cap, but seriously, Iron Man’s posse is much, MUCH cooler. I myself have a special place for Captain America, however, when worse comes to worst, I side with Iron Man. What can I say, I’m a sucker for tech. The hype behind this epic taster of a showdown, pre-supervillain finale with Thanos, established itself over years of Avenger assembling. I have to say, it definitely paid off. Following Batman v Superman’s abysmal concoction of a superhero film, Marvel continues to dominate the competition with this dramatic, explosive and emotional two hour hit.

Iron Man.gif
“Here’s Johnny!”

The film, being a Captain America title, spends a lot of time following his post-Age of Ultron avenging. Although, arguably this film could have easily been cut to ‘Civil War’ seeing how much screen time the rest of the crew actually get. Especially Iron Man, which sounds dumb, because it may seem obvious that in a film that drives on the conflict between two iconic heroes it would split the story between the two. But moving on, Captain America’s band of merry Avengers, consisting of Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Hawkeye, are on the hunt for hunky, merc-man Crossbones (A.K.A. Brock Rumlow from Winter Soldier). This action sequence demonstrates that our beloved heroes (excluding Hawkeye. Just kidding…) are still operating just as efficiently as ever, until Captain and Crossbones meet eye-to-eye in close combat, leading to Crossbones being backed into a corner, and summoning a live grenade from his holster. Before Cap is blown into lots of tiny little red giblets, Scarlet Witch uses the force to sustain the blast around Crossbones, and then in a panic, sends him flying into a office block, killing dozens of innocent civilians.

Crossbones.jpg

Firstly, let’s talk Crossbones. I assumed from the trailer that this guy was going to be the reason why the two battling factions would reunite, I was wrong. Before stepping into the cinema I thought about the logic (or stupidity) of ten plus superheroes taking on one mere mercenary hunk. A bit overkill wouldn’t you say? Yeah, exactly. I’m sure Hawkeye could take him out on his own, yet alone an Avenger army. The true villain Zemo (no, not Nemo’s cousin), instead plays the role of ‘man in the background who pulls strings and makes things happen’. Yeah not the best villain ever, but I’ll go into that later. Crossbones’ short piece of action only proves to reintroduce us to the cinematic action Marvel seem to have perfected. Despite being a character from a previous Captain America film, Crossbones only plays as a pawn in setting up the plot for Civil War. He is not developed at all, and quickly disposed of, which is darn shame seeing the potential to turn him into something more of a threat.

Tut

Following this exciting, but somewhat disappointing scene, the Avengers are counselled and made to feel guilty for all the innocent lives that have been taken from all previous films. This whole naughty-children treatment is a bit silly at first when you consider that the Avengers didn’t actually do anything intentionally that killed people. However the Vision makes a good statement, suggesting that the Avengers very existence triggers resistance and therefore conflict, but in a real concise and elegant way. The UN (out of all the country enforcers) decides that following the Crossbones incident, it’s time to knuckle down on these so called “vigilantes”. The Avengers are commanded to sign the Sokovia Accord. Sokovia being that made up Eastern European place Ultron found significant for some reason. It’s okay guys, there’s no real threat, crazy super-powered baddies only want to destroy imaginary Eastern civilisations, those racists. Too much freedom for the enhanced icons has supposedly led to more death and misery than justice. This revelation to the group creates a literal split down the table on whether or not to conform to the UN’s proposal of revealing identities as public knowledge, and also to restrict Avenger operations.

Iron Man is clearly facing some rough PTSD issues at the beginning of the film, which influences his decision on agreeing to sign the form. Tony decides that the Avengers indeed need to be “put in check” if they are to carry out missions with minimal casualties. Captain America on the other hand, believes that they have the right to be free in carrying out Avenging, essentially continuing the privatisation of the group. It’s interesting to see how the audience reacts to the two proposed sides. I’ve got a feeling most people like Iron Man’s sass and tech, but deep down, everyone kind of agrees with Captain America. It doesn’t matter though, these heroes won’t actually be in conflict forever right? …Right?

Civil War GIFCivil War 3

 The real, actual threat in this movie is Zemo. Zemo (some of you comic people will already know Zemo), is a manipulative man who’s mission is to tear the Avengers apart from the inside, turning themselves against each other, similar to what happened in Age of Ultron. This time, Zemo constructs a devious plan on placing a target on Bucky’s back as a scapegoat for the terrorist attack on the UN conference, which brands him as a criminal and an enemy of the government and the Avengers. Obviously Steve Rogers wants to help redeem his friend; which seems a difficult task for such a confused and easily mind-controlled man with a killer bionic arm. 

And so begins, the Civil War! Cap, Bucky and all the other folk who admire Steve, or just plain disagree with the UN’s proposal take arms against team Iron Man. Breakouts between couples such as the Vision and Scarlet Witch and Black Panther with Cap and Bucky, come from left, right and centre. I haven’t mentioned Black Panther yet. This cat was the second hero I was most looking forward to seeing, coming behind Spider-Man of course. He came across as a pretty determined man, seeking the revenge of his father, who died in the terrorist attack earlier. Despite this admirable persona, and pretty bad-ass flying kick moves, I’m not sure the Panther displayed his true potential. Not enough bite with that roar and all that. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t an interesting character, I’m now even more intrigued for his standalone film in the future, especially continuing from the after-credit reveal.

Spider Man

The other huge introduction in Civil War is of course Spider-Man. My childhood hero, back in his best performance yet. Tom Holland’s embodiment of a younger Spider-Man was on point, even  better than I had hoped. My younger brother insistently complained about youthful Peter Parker, but I stuck by it, and it’s great. His lack of experience in fights leads to some funny dialog between him and other Avengers, the scenes with Tony Stark are especially enjoyable. Proving to be the most agile and possibly quickest of the team, Spider-man suits Marvel’s cinematic action sequences perfectly. The CGI suit is noticeable, but doesn’t subtract from the character or film in any way. Like Black Panther, I’m very excited to see more Spidey screen time in Spider-Man Homecoming. Homecoming gets a little mention at the end of the film too, which claims that “Spider-Man will return”, followed by a short clip at the very end of the credits. It is interesting to see how the new and (definitely) improved Spidey is being promoted after his merging with Marvel Studios.

The significantly epic battle between our beloved heroes is, as promised, an amazing combination of witty remarks, hidden comic book powers, punchy flying kick combos and tight, spandex costumes. We’ve all seen the teasers in the trailers, and luckily, they don’t actually spoil any of the best bits. For example, Ant-Man unleashes his full power, becoming the giant we’ve all been waiting for. Paul Rudd lives and breathes his character so well, I’d liken him to Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool (an exceptional film if you haven’t seen it already). It’s a joy to witness the juxtaposition of the seriousness between Stark and Rogers and the comedy of Spidey and Ant-Man. Marvel’s sweetness very much stems from the ability to find humour throughout a film that may be tackling serious issues. This film does delve into some pretty deep revelations in regards to Tony Stark’s parents, which is quite shocking really. Thankfully, the comedy lightens up the overall mood, otherwise I could see this installment getting quite depressing.

Civil War 2

It turns out that after all the conflict between the two factions, and the quick change of heart from Tony which sees him join forces with Cap to deal with Zemo’s schemes, Bucky is revealed to be responsible for the death of Stark’s parents. Yikes, not cool. I understand that the Winter Soldier may have not been in complete control of his actions, but still, that’s a pretty painful thing to do. What follows is a crazy outburst from Iron Man, leading to a pretty emotional brawl between Rogers, Bucky and Stark. This entire fight proves to be just as gripping as the first, pulling on our ever-so-fragile heart strings. It’s clear that Bucky is an obstacle in Stark and Roger’s relationship, which is evidently still a bond that’s hard to break. The standoff is one of the most brutal fights ever seen in a Marvel film, excluding Deadpool and Netflix’s original series (also incredible).

I honestly believe this is the best film in the Avenger series. The story provokes interesting concepts and also brings out the political side of most characters (which is often ignored). Action scenes are great, and comparable to the big-budget scenes of the other Avenger films. I can’t recommend this installment enough, and I very much look forward to the following titles to come. Come at me Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!

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I haven’t gone into full spoiler territory with this review, and I know I haven’t explored every aspect that I could have. Sadly, I’m short on time and extremely tired from writing my dissertation on Game of Thrones, so this will have to do for now. I’d appreciate it if you’d like to share your thoughts or any advice if you’ve gotten this far with my piece. Also, a follow is always given a special place in my heart. Be that special person… Go on.

Alexander Jones

 

 

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Author: alexwelsh95

Magazine journalism trainee. Journalism, media and cultural studies graduate, Cardiff University.

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