Captain America: Civil War – film review

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Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Running time: 147 minutes

Reviewer: Stephen Bray

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is eight years old. Beginning in 2008 with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, it has expanded exponentially in popularity with a massive backlog of films varying in quality and popularity. The franchise has had its disappointments, taking the form of Iron Man 2 as well as Thor: The Dark World. But, for the most part, it has been a raging critical success. And now it has all culminated into what is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best Marvel studios film to date, and a possible contender for the best superhero film in general.

The movie acts as both a direct sequel to Age of Ultron at the same time as being a continuance of Captain America’s individual trilogy (which had a rocky start but redeemed itself with the excellent The Winter Soldier). Cap’s own story is indeed where the main focus lies, and his friendship with James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes is further developed here, really setting stage for a film that is definitely Captain America 3, rather than just Avengers 2.5. Having said that, the script did a fantastic job of involving the other characters – giving motivation to every single superhero we see within the movie. After all, if the film is going to be a huge crossover event, don’t be too half-hearted about it.

The highlights of Civil War were Black Panther, prince of a seclusive African nation with a personal vendetta, and Spider-man, the friendly neighbourhood teenager who has finally received the perfect adaptation. Both had a special onscreen presence that could not be matched. One was serious, gritty and intense when interacting with others while the second was light-hearted and a more-than-welcome advocate of comic relief. Whist it has taken numerous actors and a studio transfer to get the perfect Spider-man, fans will be even happier to see that Marvel have nailed Black Panther in one go, before he even had a chance for a solo adventure.

For such a serious movie, the comic relief is plenty in number. On top of Spider-man, there is a great chemistry between Bucky and Sam Wilson/Falcon as they both vie for the place as Captain America’s best friend, as well as Tony Stark’s usual form as the joker within the superpowered team. Unsurprisingly, his interactions with Peter Parker are both hilarious and oddly charming; the future of Tony being a father-figure mentor to Peter is very evident.

Do not even for a moment believe that the trailers have given everything away, either. Plenty of surprises are afoot for even those who have watched every moment of footage released online before the movie premiered. The best comes from Ant-Man; a hero who some may perhaps wish was in it more, but cast a very large shadow over the battlefield when it came to it.

In terms of character, Civil War will leave everyone ready for Infinity War: Part I (the next Avengers movie) – leaving our favourite heroes in a place we haven’t seen before. This film has delivered the best story, best character arcs and best action sequences we have yet seen. The splash panel sequence of Team Cap and Team Iron feuding throughout an airport is one of the most exciting fights any blockbuster has delivered for many years. For once, when people say this Marvel film is good, they mean that Civil War is not an amazing comic book movie, but just an amazing movie altogether.