This 2016 American superhero film is the 13th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and features a returning ensemble cast including Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen alongside newcomers Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Brühl, Martin Freeman and Tom Holland.

With governments reeling from the fallout of confrontations involving the Avengers, including a recent terror attack in Nigeria, the UN propose a new term; the Sokovia Accords. This, if actioned, will make the Avengers answer to an international governing body to call upon them if needed and stop them acting as a lone unit.

Steve Rogers, Captain America (Evans), doesn’t trust governing bodies and wants to remain independent. Tony Stark, Iron Man (Downey, Jr), supports the move and feels they should now pay the price for their actions. However, the catalyst for the divide within the team is the Winter Soldier, James Barnes (Stan), who has been linked to recent terrorist attacks.

Steve wants to protect his friend. Tony wants to bring him in. The line is drawn. As a Sokovian soldier, Colonel Zemo (Brühl), forms plans involving the Winter Soldier, Captain America and Iron Man lead Avengers on both sides into a clash between former friends who are fighting to preserve what they believe is right…

I will try to keep this bite-size, as I’ve learnt I can prattle on an awful lot about certain films that either blow me out the water or leave me very under-whelmed, and I don’t want to write ‘War & Peace’. This blew me out of the water; and, the testament to knowing it was superb, was that is made me want to go and re-visit all existing MCU films from the start which is something I’ve not cared much about until now. And I didn’t find Tony Stark annoying. That’s an achievement for me.

I’ve seen most of them, skipped a few, not given all my full attention, but on the whole I know what’s going on. I’m not a die-hard Marvel fan who knows comics, characters and lore. I know basics from the movies. I know the obvious heroes and villains. I can sit on the fence while fan-boys blast each other on either side. And this makes me enjoy the films more because I take what is given as an audience member and process it as a film fan. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ may well be the greatest modern superhero film for me, surpassing ‘The Dark Knight’.

(Come on then DC fanboys, waste your arguments on me. I’m immune. I’m loyal to no studio exclusively!)

At just under 2.5hrs, the film never drags. While it takes it’s time to set up the second-half, the first is a steady pace of character development and relationship exploration. These are character’s we’ve invested in for over 8 years now, and that is an achievement you can’t fault for Marvel. This finale for the Captain America trilogy doesn’t feel at all like a 13th film in an overall series – it deals with the past, present and future of a world we are following with characters we love and/or hate. It’s important as a Marvel film and a superhero on, and feels as fresh as ever. It’s pretty much ‘The Avengers 2.5’.

With a clear understanding of the source material from the Russo brothers directing, this deals out some breath-taking comic-book style action as well as calmer, more emotive sequences that all play a part in fuelling the growing “civil war” between the Avengers. There are brilliant links to previous films and events that make so much sense to the story and very clever indeed without feeling shoe-horned in with teasing links to the future.

The cast, too big to mention each by name, is perfect. They continue to flesh out their characters, give them new sides and new motives and all as important as the other, regardless of screentime. From the faultless lead stars Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr who give you just what you’ve come to expect, the supporting Avengers are crucial to making this whole thing work and the conflict that ensures comes off far better than you could imagine thanks to their portrayals. Each hit is reluctant, and each action comes with consequences for all and you can’t wait to see where they go. From Paul Rudd to Paul Bettany, from Chadwick Boseman to William Hurt – heroes or villains, they are perfect and you know them already; you care for them and feel torn with them. And the good thing here is that each Avenger gets their own moment; not just to “shine”, but to remind us who they are and what important part they play in all of this. It’s why we can invest in them.

With super set design, some exceptional stunt work and enough plot to make sure you don’t even miss Thor, Hulk or Nick Fury, this is a fitting finale for Captain America’s trilogy as a weak war recruit to modern day super-soldier and the legacy he builds (and destroys) during it. I loved every minute of it and found the balance of comedy, drama, emotion and suspense to be just right. I chuckled when I wanted to, and was gripped when I wanted to be.

Maybe people will question what Daniel Brühl’s Zemo is really doing here in the background, plotting and manipulating events quietly as our “villain”, but just like the Avengers, he’s keeping quiet and pulling strings away from prying eyes and we, just like the heroes, fail to see it because we’re so wrapped up in what Captain America and Iron Man are doing, the real motive isn’t clear until the end when we see through emotionally battered eyes. It’s so refreshing as well not to have a clear cut villain leading to a big CG finale; who needs villains when we have heroes at war? It’s a brave and satisfying move.

And yes, guess what, it was so nice to have another superhero film shot where I could actually see the set detail and C visuals rather than it all being dark and gloomy and washed out. Atmosphere is one thing, but if it takes away everything else? No thanks.

Kudos to our new Spider-Man, Tom Holland, who wipes away all previous Sony efforts with his new Marvel backed outing  he’s smart, strong but still a kid in an adult world and uses Star Wars to take down an Avenger. What’s not to like with this debut? My only quarm is Marisa Tomei as Aunty May. After following on from a 74yr old Rosemary Harris and 67yr old Sally Field, this 51 year old May is nothing but a distracting MILF.

One final thrill for me was the Leipzig/Halle Airport scene. Teased in all the trailers, the seconds we see make it look a little underwhelming, but TRUST me; it’s the most exciting and well-staged action sequences in all the Marvel films and certainly most recent superhero films. It’s fun, exciting, dangerous, emotional and giddy. It’s an assault on the senses and worth the price of a ticket alone for fans of comic book movies who have wanted to see their heroes explode from page to the big screen knocking the crap out of each other in a warm up for Thanos.

 

My Rating

 


Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jnr., Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rud, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hollland, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle