Once again, the UK has been graced with the earlier release of a Marvel film, and this one may be one the comic book giant’s greatest efforts so far. Taking on one of the biggest and most iconic storylines from the comics was going to need to satisfy the shrieking geeks that are Marvel fanboys (yours truly included) whilst setting the Marvel universe in good stead for Phase 3. Well, the Russo Brothers did not disappoint. From the literally larger than life action sequences, to the awesome final fight, to the cameo appearance of Jim Rash (Community’s Dean Pelton) this is definitely up there with Marvel’s better films (then again, my favourite last year was Age of Ultron, so what do I know?)
Obviously this is spoiler territory, so if you don’t want to find out that Captain America was secretly an android being controlled by Howard the Duck, then I would suggest you stop reading right about now.
So Captain America: Civil War is a great film. Not perfect, but great. In what was basically another Avengers film (but not really) we were treated to some crucial development between all characters. Helmut Zeemo (portrayed brilliantly by Daniel Bruhl) is probably the most evolved Marvel villain since Loki. His motives are revealed slowly, but escalate just enough to display his hatred for Captain America, and his desire to drive the Avengers apart through planting the seeds of betrayal. Even when Iron Man and Cap appear to have resolved their differences, Zeemo triggers Iron Man’s untapped fury in revealing The Winter Soldier as the murderer of Tony Stark’s parents, sending him into a blind rage against both Cap and Bucky. They kept Zeemo alive too so there’s some potential for him to appear in future Avengers flicks (despite being a Cap villain, Zeemo is still fairly cool as things go). Now…if only they’d glue that purple mask to him already.
There are plenty of awesome performances to be found in Civil War, and the introduction of whole host of new characters that feel more natural than a coconut oiled palm tree. Chadwick Boseman absolutely steals it as Black Panther. In quite possibly the most perfect Marvel casting since Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, Boseman nails the diplomatic and protective nature of T’Challa, whilst fully representing the Black Panther’s ferocity and sense of duty. It was great to see Black Panther playing a central role in both The Avengers and the overarching story, long before we get to see him go solo (directed by Creed’s Ryan Coogler…I’m totally not excited…that was sarcasm). His decision to ultimately not kill Zeemo immediately places him above his cohorts, realising that chasing vengeance would have made him no better than the enemies he sought to destroy. Robert Downey Jr once again displays that he is quite literally the only guy that can play Tony Stark, offering up his most powerful performance in the role to date.
Of course, the elephant…well, spider in the room, is probably the part that most people are looking forward to, and they are not going to be disappointed. Tom Holland brings a refreshed comical air to the role and almost makes us forget about Toby McGarfield and Andrew Guire…or whoever. I’ll be honest, I nearly forgot that Spiderman was in this film…no seriously. This made it all the better when he swung onto the screen to take on Winter Soldier and Falcon, all the while throwing out quips and conversing with his opponents about their tech.Yay Spidey! Funny how handing a character back to its creators is the most likely way to nail it huh? If Civil War was anything to go by, then the third Spiderman franchise in my lifetime is sure to be the better one…not that that’s difficult.
Rounding the out awesome parts of the film are the mid-film climax at Leipzig airport and the final confrontation between Cap and Iron Man at the Siberian HYDRA base. The airport showdown flows brilliantly, as if it was lifted straight out of a comic book, with the introduction of fan favourite moments such as Ant Man’s team up with Hawkeye, Scott Lang becoming Giant Man (yay foreshadowing) and Black Panther being y’know…Black Panther, things escalated very quickly. I mean they got out of hand fast. War Machine’s “accidental” injury at the hands of Vision (I don’t think Vision missed Falcon) was a stark (excuse the pun) contrast for the series, and nearly had me believing that the Marvel universe had killed off its first major hero. The final fight in Siberia was paced amazingly well, with Bucky being eliminated fairly early, leaving Cap and Iron Man to duke it out properly. I definitely wasn’t the only elated nerd in the room when the shield vs repulsor blast frame came up.
That shield doesn’t belong to you. You don’t deserve it! My father made that shield! – Tony Stark, Captain America: Civil War
That final moment of the fight, where Cap drops his shield, truly signifying the end of the first incarnation of the MCUs Avengers, was a heart hitting moment (for everyone in the room that wasn’t a stone-hearted lizard person). Leaving Tony alone and defeated whilst Cap helped Bucky out of the base, it felt like the end of an era for everybody who’d been following these films for the last 8 years, signifying that whatever Marvel has planned next will be the most unfamiliar thing since Guardians of the Galaxy.
As awesomely awesome as Civil War was, there were a few drawbacks that held it back from being the best of Marvel’s current offerings to it’s cinematic universe. Whilst characters like Black Panther and Spiderman’s origin stories are sped up considerably (understandable, as they’re getting their own films) they manage to fit the Civil War puzzle quite well… and then there’s Ant Man. Sure, it was great having him around, and he ended up being a key player in Cap’s team, but his motivation for joining was never made clear. He was there just because he could be really. Crossbones was a welcome addition as well, but I felt that he was dealt with far too quickly. Given how things escalated (or elevated if you catch my drift) during The Winter Soldier, it was a shame to see him done away with so swiftly.
But that’s some serious knitpicking at an otherwise awesome Marvel film. It lead into Phase 3 with a serious punch and did what most recent Marvel films haven’t done; Civil War changed the status quo of the MCU. Things have changed and alliances have shifted. Until Black Panther hits screens in 2017, we won’t know where the Avengers stand for Inifinity War. The playing field has morphed significantly, and it’s looking pretty cool!
Now…can we get an “Avengers, Assemble!” in the next group film please?