STARRING: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt and Daniel Brühl
Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
Captain America: Civil War shows us that the governments of the world are at a breaking point with the Avengers activities as the latest incident involving Brock Rumlow leads to an explosion resulting in collateral damage. This leads to the Secretary of State informing them that the United Nations have established a legislative bill, the Sokovia Accords, in which the Avengers will operate under a panel’s supervision and act when the panel deem it necessary. When a bomb explodes outside the building in which several heads of state have gathered for the ratification of the accords in Vienna, quickly media spreads footage of the man responsible for the attack – Bucky Barnes. This puts Steve Rogers in a race against Tony Stark and Black Panther to find Bucky and figure out who’s behind all of this.
After a repeated viewing of Captain America: Civil War, I’ve decided to give a spoiler filled review of what I like and what I didn’t like about the latest Marvel Studios film. The film starts by taking us back to 1991 in Siberia, where we see the early beginnings of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier where he assassinates a motorist, retrieving a briefcase in the process. Present day we’re following the Avengers (as in Cap, Black Widow, Falcon and Scarlet Witch) in Lagos, Nigeria, trying to stop Brock Rumlow (Crossbones) and a group of mercenaries from stealing a biological weapon from a lab which unfortunately leads to an end result in which Brock distracts Steve Rogers in order to trigger a bomb, in which Scarlet Witch attempts to save Steve, she loses control of her abilities once she pushes Brock into the air resulting in an explosion ripping about the building next to them. This triggers the Sokovia Accords coming into play and when Bucky Barnes is back on the radar as being the main suspect of a bombing in Vienna, it puts Steve Rogers and Tony Stark at heads with each other.
The Russo Brothers have managed to create a film that not only serves as an Avengers film, but still makes it work on a personal level as a Captain America film. The key to adding that personal feel to the film is making it all come back to the friendship between Steve and Bucky. Is Bucky still worth saving? Will he ever be the same as he was before? Is it worth defending your friend till the end of the line and become a ‘vigilante’ in the eyes of the government in the process? While the execution of this may feel light, it gives enough weight for the overall narrative surrounding the Sokovia Accords and Captain America’s motives to find out if Bucky was really responsible for the Vienna bombing rather than the panel and the rest of the Avengers (including Tony Stark) who signed the bill acting on a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ contingency and make it work as an Avengers/Captain America hybrid. The members motives for signing and not signing are explained in a way that the audience can see both sides of the argument, from Rogers believing that agendas will deny them from what they should do while Stark believes that they need to be put in check and Natasha believing that they’re better to sign to keep one hand on the steering wheel at least. The introduction of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa (Black Panther) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is incredibly well handled, with Boseman a commanding figure that effortlessly slots in amongst the large ensemble with a vengeful arc in looking to kill the Winter Soldier for being responsible for his fathers death in Vienna and coming to the decision of not letting his vengeance consume him once he discovers that he was attempting to kill the wrong man. Another wonderfully handled introduction to the universe is Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who no longer needs a origin story and his interactions with the Avengers in the heat of battle are filled with a kid in awe standing amongst superheroes and his eagerness to impress Stark is joyful to watch. The films key scene at the Leipzig/Halle Airport in which we get Team Iron Man versus Team Cap will bring joy to Marvel fans and possibly a few tears to some in the laughter stakes thanks for Spider-Man and Paul Rudd’s larger than life appearance as Ant-Man. There’s one little moment in particular where there’s an interaction between Scott Lang and Tony Stark in the heat of battle that I found to be hilarious. The action sequence happens to be one of the best Marvel scenes to date in my opinion in how it manages to handle the interactions and choreography with so many characters tremendously, which makes me even more excited to see how the Russo Brothers handle the Infinity War instalments as everyone character gets their moment to shine here (and personally I’m definitely intrigued by Vision and Wanda’s interactions with one another and seeing how that develops).
The film has a few villains thrown into the mix here. We’re given the return of Brock Rumlow (aka Crossbones) in the beginning and he doesn’t last long as he bombs himself up in an attempt to take Captain America and as many people as he can with him. While some may be disappointed that his appearance is short lived, it works with the narrative that every action the Avengers take, there’s a consequence that comes with it as Rumlow was burnt/disfigured from the events in Washington D.C during the takedown of S.H.I.E.L.D/Hydra. The films main villain however comes in the form of Colonel Helmut Zemo and he’s definitely the first Marvel villain in a long while to me personally that works in relevance to the story being told and how he is a consequence to Black Widow releasing S.H.I.E.L.D files to the public as he spends the time and resources in decrypting this information to use against the Avengers and cause the pain and suffering that they have caused him as their heroics in Sokovia in stopping Ultron still resulted in his family being killed. I thought the characters motives and performance from Daniel Brühl were handled well, though limited, even he got to shine and his explained his motives to T’Challa in the films final act. The problem I have with the film however comes solely down to the final act which takes place mostly in Siberia. As carefully patient and calculated Zemo has been, would his plan really work if Tony Stark didn’t show up to help out Steve and Bucky at the lab where Bucky was brainwashed to do the Russians bidding? The events of the climatic showdown between Tony and Steve suggests that the Avengers have been fractured to the point of possible no return as Tony learns of Bucky killing his parents and Steve knew about it, leading to their showdown, to Hawkeye, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man being locked up at a supermax prison….only to then in the last five minutes suggest that though they have been split up, they can still team up when needed. It just feels a little bit too safe for my liking but it’ll come across as a niptick with how I felt overall the second time and the story flowed much better than I originally thought (think triple bill screenings should be stopped now). Martin Freeman’s character Everett Ross is very limited in screentime (will be lucky to be in the film five minutes overall) and Emily VanCamp’s Sharon, while useful to the story, feel like she could’ve been used more as well considering her role also in the Winter Soldier and her backstory here in revealing that she is Sharon Carter, with her aunt being Peggy.
Still a few plot conveniences here and there but with an emotional arc as well as a joyful fight sequence during the middle of the film between the Avengers members, I couldn’t care less about them conveniences as I had an absolute blast watching Civil War. Still prefer The Winter Soldier. 9/10