By Thomas Simpson
After the underwhelming release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Marvel pits its own heroes against each other in Captain America: Civil War.
Although this looks on the surface to be an excuse to churn out an Avengers film pre-Infinity War, the latest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) continues the political warfare themes of previous Captain America films, Civil War being the conclusion of the trilogy.
Superhero films – such as Man of Steel – were heavily criticized for their disaster porn voyeurism. Civil War sees the Avengers being taking to task for the collateral damage they’ve caused with the US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) informing the team that the UN will pass legislation to monitor and govern them.
While Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is in agreement Captain America (Chris Evans) is skeptical of the implications of this action. When his old buddy the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) resurfaces, Cap finds himself on the wrong side of the law which results in a split in the Avengers camp with our heroes choosing sides.
Marvel has once again raised the bar as Civil War just might be the best film they’ve released so far. The action is incredible with wonderfully choreographed fight sequences preventing this from being an overblown CGI fest.
Many characters from the MCU are thrown into the mix here but none are lost in the shuffle with each one fulfilling their role perfectly including the first appearance of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Boseman is brilliant in his role, however the biggest talking point was that Spider-Man would be making his debut to the MCU.
Played by Tom Holland, the character is a delight full of trademark wisecracks and a nerdish demeanor. As the character is introduced, there’s no tired origin story here with even a few meta jokes thrown in at the playful expense of casting Marisa Tomei’ as Aunt May. Although Spider-Man remains a commodity of Sony, Marvel have arguably presented the definitive on-screen version of the web-slinger. There’s great promise here for Holland’s first standalone film.
Another character that many feel is overdue her own film is Scarlet Johansen’s Black Widow. Johansen is fantastic in the role and delivers her best performance in the series here. Which is also the case for most of the cast.
The Russo Brothers have showcased the depth of the characters, extracting the nuances of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay. The script is full of psychological themes, including allusions to the Patriot Act and how superheroes would deal with the real life consequences of their existence. Not that the film is steeped in realism, Civil War is an action fantasy film that feels like the comic book movie it is.
Captain America: Civil War gives us extravagant and exciting battles with an interesting plot with enough humor to prevent this from being an overly serious and joyless affair. There’s much to enjoy here as Marvel progresses a universe it first kicked off in a post-credits scene 9 years ago. It has been an ambitious project and one that has often rewarded fans.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.