It’s the beginning of a new age for superheroes. Phase three is here, kicking off with the long-awaited and highly anticipated Captain America: Civil War.
To say that this film is the definitive Marvel movie would be an understatement: it’s the culmination of everything that’s come before, and marks the start of a new and surprising direction for our favourite characters. While we’ve come to know Steve Rogers over the course of two solo movies and two Avengers films, it’s here that he finally finds his place in the world, or at the very least begins to figure it out.
Like the comic series, the film is pitched around the conflict that ensues between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) when the former spearheads the creation of a Superhero Registration Act, or The Sokovia Accords as it’s called in the movie. The plan is to install a system of accountability whereby the Avengers and all superhuman beings would be overseen by a governing body.
For me, the film’s shining moments had very little to do with this, and actually remained pretty light on the Accords front. Sure it starts a heated conflict that gets way out of hand between former friends, but this film is really about friendship. Plain and beautifully simple.
With the reappearance of Bucky (Sebastian Stan), and the government and Stark keen to arrest him, the timing couldn’t be worse for Rogers, particularly with his refusal to play ball with the Accords making matters worse. Suddenly, he’s stuck between two friends, and it’s here that things get interesting.
Rogers has grown considerably since his first appearance in the MCU, and while initially striking me as the character most likely to fall in line with authority, the spark and heart that Dr Erskine first saw in him hasn’t left. How could it after the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. and everything he’s held dear? Now we have a soldier that makes his own rules, turning into a ‘criminal’ to help a dangerous man, while trusting his heart and gut that his old friend is still in there somewhere, and worth saving. Rogers’ unfaltering loyalty to Bucky is the real catalyst of Civil War, and every move he makes to protect and help him is what makes this not just a great superhero film, but a great film full stop.
Of course, Rogers’ rocky friendship with Stark is not to be discounted when noting what makes Civil War a stand out. As far as Rogers is concerned, he’s the guardian of morals stuck in a power play against an egotistical genius. And from Stark’s perspective, teaching the values of pragmatism to a man from another time is proving frustratingly fruitless. Their differences couldn’t be more black and white, but the Russo brothers have done a brilliant job at creating a balanced picture, neither dwelling on who is right or wrong, or definitively answering the question.
I can’t talk about this film without highlighting the boundary-pushing action sequences. From a particularly tense, high speed chase involving the Bucky and Black Panther, to the brutal beat down between Iron Man and Cap, every battle is perfectly choreographed and has really raised the bar for future Marvel films.
As for the new additions to the MCU (and without giving too much away), Tom Holland is a spectacular find and perfectly cast as a young Peter Parker. However, the one character that really stood out for me, at least in terms of fighting style, was T’Challa aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). There’s a vicious gracefulness in how he moves, and combined with what is perhaps one of my favourite suits in the film, Black Panther is a thrill to watch. Boseman might be a minor player here, but he made damn sure to leave an impression.
Civil War will no doubt become a widespread favourite amongst fans – but the praise is well deserved. The Russo brothers have deftly crafted a film that goes beyond the often-dismissed realm of ‘comic book movie’ and have given audiences something really meaty to dig their teeth into. The stakes were higher and the consequences bigger, but they didn’t disappoint.
Image source: Walt Disney Pictures.