Movie Review: “Captain America: Civil War” – Worth Fighting For

Written by Reece Mawhinney May 05, 2016

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With superhero film series having undeniably made their place on a tall, hugely grossing pedestal in the Hollywood film world, it was only a matter of time before one of the biggest staples of comic books was introduced. Superheroes fighting each other. And this year, we got two of those films, one from each of the big comic powerhouses. What Marvel brings to the table is the same masterfully directed film we’ve come to expect from the cinematic universe but with the gripping plot and the convincing character dynamics that we only hope for every time we sit in our cinema seats.

With it becoming increasingly clear that more and more people are suiting up and fighting crime, which in the Avengers universe generally seems to take the form of worldwide terrorism, the United Nations feels the need to step in and establish a body which will govern over these superheroes and decide whether they should be allowed free-reign of their destructive abilities, whether their hearts are in the right place or not. Sparks begin to fly between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) when they find themselves on different sides of wanting the body to be established. And of course things only get worse when Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) shows back up to bomb the united nations meeting, killing almost everyone present, seemingly confirming the dangerousness of super-powered people and inciting some vengeful spirits to rise in people. Captain America is faced with protecting his brain-washed friend even when it means fighting against the governments of the world and those heroes who want to protect their image as saviors and not be seen as monsters in the eyes of the everyday person.

“You’ve operated with unlimited power and no supervision”

With a grand total of 12 films and 2 tie-in TV shows preceding it only within the last 8 years and a further 9 films slated to be released within the next 3 years; Captain America: Civil War isn’t fighting against any preconceived notion that it will be a bad film, simply that it’s another freaking film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some might even criticise this film in particular for supposedly being a Captain America film despite including all but two of the Avengers cast and also introducing us to two entirely new characters in Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the newest rendition of Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Last year, Avengers: Age of Ultron was rightly criticised for focusing much more on setting the stage and character motivations for other films rather than focus on its own story. With valid reason, you may expect the same here but I can happily and safely say, that is not the case, at least not for the most part.

Captain America Civil War 3

The biggest issues for this film with marketing other films thankfully stays within the marketing. The reveal of Spider-Man really doesn’t hit home as it should due to how much his appearance in this film has been talked about in the media and shown off in the more recent trailers. Regardless of that, if anything, this film now stands as a testament to how such a massive film franchise is able to use its continuity to tell a stronger story. What we see in Civil War is the strong characterisation that only long-running TV shows have been able to claim up until this point outside of franchises like the Harry Potter series and even then the characterisation was written out in books beforehand and weakened notably by the adaption to film.

“Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth”

Civil War is undoubtedly going to be compared to Batman V Superman and amongst the many flaws of that film, one of the biggest is that both the titular characters are quite clearly framed in the wrong by film’s end. Here, it is a completely open debate over who is the in right and motivations of our main characters are clear with their past films giving them a ton of evidence for support in their claims. Iron Man doesn’t trust himself, forcibly having learnt the lesson of humility and how dangerous the technology he creates is many times throughout his appearances in the cinematic universe. Captain America, however, is completely justified for being suspicious of government, knowing that it contains secret HYDRA agents after the events of the Winter Soldier and preferring to believe in those that he has fought beside like the soldier he is. It’s a brilliant conflict and it is handled extremely well with the writing never allowing the scales to tip too far into one side’s favour. What’s perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is that is based on a comic arc that a lot of fans absolutely hate. It showed many beloved characters acting completely out-of-character for the sake of the plot and contained a lot of needless, dramatic plot twists that impacted negatively on the comics that came a good while after. These issues are flipped on their head for this film and actually become the movie’s greatest strengths instead.

“You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any other choice, but he’s my friend”

As far as Marvel films go, this is definitely a Captain America film because there is consistently the strongest attempt by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, along with the Russo Brothers as directors who have behind this trilogy to instill as much heart, thought-provoking dialogue and character growth as possible rather than just throw spectacular fights and big explosions on the screen. Although, don’t worry, there’s enough of that in this film to keep fans of that more than entertained. It is exactly what you want from a superhero film and it might very well be the strongest Marvel film to date.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Captain America Civil War 2

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