Should I Watch..? Captain America: Civil War
What's the big deal?
Captain America: Civil War is an action superhero film released in 2016 and is the third entry in the Captain America series. Based on the Marvel character of the same name, the film forms part of Marvel Studios' Cinematic Universe (MCU) as well as being a sequel to The First Avenger (1) and The Winter Soldier (2). The film's cast includes Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Shaw, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle and Elizabeth Olsen as well as introducing Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland to the MCU. Critical response was largely positive at the time of release while the movie nearly recouped its $250 million budget after just the first week of release, going on to take over $1.1 billion worldwide.
What's it about?
A year after the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron (3), global opinion of the Avengers has grown decidedly mixed. While many see them as heroes, a growing number are becoming concerned at the vast amount of collateral damage being caused as well as the increasing number of threats to the planet. After an inadvertent explosion caused by the Avengers kills a number of aid workers in Nigeria, Secretary Of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the UN has proposed an accord which would see enhanced individuals governed by a committee and refrain from controlling their own actions.
While Tony Stark is all too willing to sign up to the agreement as his guilt worsens, Steve Rogers cannot agree and refuses to do so. But during the ratification, a bomb explodes that sources quickly confirm was the work of James "Bucky" Barnes - Steve's best friend. With the battle-lines becoming drawn and the future of the Avengers at stake, how far will Captain America go to protect his oldest friend against his current colleagues?
Steve Rogers / Captain America
Robert Downey Jr
Tony Stark / Iron Man
Natasha Romanov / Black Widow
Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
Sam Wilson / Falcon
Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Lt. James Rhodes / War Machine
Clint Barton / Hawkeye
T'Challa / Black Panther
Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Anthony & Joe Russo
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely *
Release Date (UK)
29th April, 2016
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
What's to like?
The reason that Captain America is only the second Marvel character to complete a trilogy within the MCU is because his films usually continue the overarching story, post-Avengers Assemble (4). And sure enough, that tradition continues in Civil War and Marvel have thrown almost everything at this. While there are notable omissions from the cast list (no Samuel L Jackson, Chris Hemsworth or Mark Ruffalo for starters), the newcomers more than compensate. Boseman gives Black Panther dignity and genuine strength but Holland is a revelation as Parker. It's not easy to banish memories of Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield but Holland brings the right level of humour, awkwardness and youth to the role. It's a fresh start for the character and frankly, it's about time.
Action fans will be delighted to see their favourite characters knocking seven colours of hell out of each other but for once, the movie stops to question exactly what violence achieves. Hopefully, the third phase of the MCU will feature more thought-provoking story lines like this because - and this might be a touch controversial for the die-hard fans to hear - both Age Of Ultron and Ant-Man (5) felt a bit underwhelming. Effects are as solid as you'd expect with a fascinating dust-up at Leipzig Airport between the two opposing factions which makes great use of the environment but also manages to tell a story simultaneously.
- The film's trailer broke the record for the most views in 24 hours, set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (6). It was seen a staggering 64 million times...
- Mark Ruffalo was spotted on set one day, sparking rumours that the Hulk might appear in the film. Not only does he not but a reference is also made to this when Black Widow is asked whether she knows where Dr Banner is.
- Holland made his audition tape with Jon Bernthal on the set of Pilgrimage (7). Holland was cast as Peter Parker while Bernthal ended up playing the Punisher for the Marvel TV series Daredevil.
What's not to like?
Glossing over the fact that the film feels more like Avengers 2.5, there are a couple of things that didn't feel right. Firstly, it goes on for way too long - two and a half hours is just too much, especially because you have to sit through the enormous list of credits for the now-traditional post-credit scene. Civil War is also a bit tame compared to the original comics - nobody really feels at risk and while there is a bleak atmosphere in the film, it doesn't feel as dark as perhaps it should. Obviously, certain characters get more screen time than others because such a bloated ensemble couldn't ever hope to get everyone on screen equally. I wanted more Vision, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther and (perhaps shockingly) Cap - maybe Downey Jr's ego is starting to match that of Stark's, given how much he seemed on screen and how his character develops.
The other thing I disliked was the whole sense that the whole film was a set-up for the next Avengers movie, the imminent Infinity War (8). Ever since the first Avengers, the films have getting bigger and bigger with more money than ever spent on them. But part of me wonders whether they have gotten too much - there's no way that this feels like a $250 million movie, despite the fancy visuals and endless carnage. Am I expecting too much as an audience member? They don't feel as light-hearted or as enjoyable as they used to and I worry that the market might have become over-saturated.
Should I watch it?
Marvel fanatics won't give much of a hoot over the intermittent story but enjoy the glorious action scenes and all the scenes with their favourite characters. And there is some enjoyment to be had watching the film unfold and the rare intelligence behind the screenplay. The film also handles the introduction of new characters well but I can't escape the feeling that this is a halfway-house between the earlier films and what is to come. Civil War needed more punch, drive and characters to have a real impact while Cap's third film should have been a touch more personal. Just sayin'...
Great For: Marvel fanatics, action lovers, comic geeks
Not So Great For: numb buttocks, people getting bored of superheroes, other films released around this time
What else should I watch?
Both The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier featured far more Cap than Civil War does - the first film is probably the best origin-tale Marvel has produced so far because I enjoyed it so more than the likes of Thor (9). Cap's second film also had mind-blowing scenes but there was at least a focus on the character of Cap and Bucky and their complicated relationship as well as continuing the overall story-arc for the MCU that started in Avengers Assemble. As a trilogy, they are the best Marvel have offered so far - for my money, at least.
The problem I see is that these films are quickly becoming events instead of films. Like last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it's more important to see the film than to actually pay attention to it because you might notice one or two glaring flaws. Marvel haven't lost their marbles just yet - there is still the brilliant Guardians Of The Galaxy (10) and its sequel standing out from the crowd as well as recent additions Dr Strange (11) and the long-awaited and hugely successful Black Panther (12). But given how successful and prevalent Marvel's TV ventures are becoming, is it possible that their attention is becoming diverted?
© 2016 Benjamin Cox