Film Review: Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2016)

James Brown, Contributor

Captain America: Civil War is the second superhero movie of the year offering a clash between two comic book titans. It may be the safer one, but its story feels more deserved, and it ends up being a more polished and ultimately more enjoyable film.

Being the 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and kicking off the third wave of films in this universe, Captain America: Civil War has a lot of history to draw on. It does this well; Captain America now leads a new team of Avengers with the financial backing of Tony Stark after the events of Age of Ultron. Unfortunately during their latest mission disaster strikes, resulting in serious collateral damage along with the loss of innocent lives. This, along with previous incidents, leads to a political backlash against the Avengers. 117 countries come together and agree to the Sokovia Accord, which will establish a U.N. panel to oversee and control the Avengers.

These two issues result in a split within the Avengers. One side led by Tony Stark/Iron Man signs the agreement believing that they need to be held accountable and work with the governments of the world. The other, led by Steve Rogers/Captain America, believes the Avengers should operate freely. In awkward timing, Captain America’s friend Bucky (also known as The Winter Soldier) is accused of a major terrorist attack, and orders for his death are issued.  The two sides are pitted against each other when, unable to believe Bucky is responsible, Cap rejects the agreement to help Bucky.

Despite having to juggle all the existing characters the movie still finds time to introduce two new heroes. The first played by Chadwick Boseman  is T’Challa, prince of the secretive African nation of Wakanda. As well as being a prince he has also taken up the mantle of Black Panther, protector of Wakanda. He proves to be a compelling character both as a skilled fighter but also out of costume where we see that he is a complex character dealing with some heavy burdens. Then there is Tom Holland, the latest new version of Peter Parker/Spider-man finally introduced to the MCU. Without spoiling anything, his short amount of screen time proves he may be the most definitive version of the character to date.

It seems that despite the large number of characters the movie manages to juggle them all effectively giving them all awesome action moments as well as interesting or progressive character moments. The movie makes it clear why each character acts the way they do, what their motivations are and their reasons for picking the side they do. Certainly watching the movie it’s hard not to agree with certain arguments both sides make. Having personally gone to see the movie with three other people, two of us ended up being on Team Cap and the other two siding with Team Iron Man when we discussed the movie afterwards.

One of the problems that people had with the Age of Ultron was the comedy aspect. It seemed that characters were quipping left and right despite the serious circumstances. Thankfully, Civil War manages to have a much more balanced tone. It does get serious and even a bit dark but has the typical Marvel humour to lighten the mood. There are many laugh-out loud moments in the movie and I’m sure people will be quoting certain lines for the foreseeable future.

In terms of action and special effects this movie definitely deserves special praise. It is surprising how much action they manage to fit into this movie but none of it seems excessive lengthwise. From the hand-to-hand combat to a chase sequence to the superhero royal rumble, it all looks polished and well-edited. Action scenes brought down by shaky cameras and choppy editing seem an increasing problem in these types of films, chaotic sequences hiding poor choreography or overuse of CGI. This movie manages to avoid both of these problems with the action being easy to follow and any CGI that is used looks great.

Captain America: Civil War will not convert those not previously convinced by other high quality entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For fans, it offers another fantastic blockbuster, managing to juggle a large cast of characters, action-packed sequences along with more intimate moments. It raises the standard expected of superhero movies whilst opening up exciting new storylines and possibilities for the universe going forward.

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