“We try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody, but you don’t give up.”
I hope Zack Synder and the rest of the DCU people are watching because they could learn a thing or two from Captain America: Civil War. When I think about DC’s filmic offerings this year, it just make me sad. No matter how much I liked parts of Batman vs Superman, Marvel has once again made a much, much better film. Although I’m sure some people will find something in there to criticise, as a fan of the MCU and Marvel in general, Civil War is perfect in pretty much every way.
First things first, it’s worth noting that this is still very much a Captain America story. Every other character in it gets a moment to shine but at it’s core it’s a film about the friendship between Cap and Bucky. It’s not Avengers 2.5 (although it’s a better film than either of Whedon’s Avengers films, possibly because a confrontation between these characters is always going to be more interesting than a team up) but every character’s screen time is spot on. The new additions are awesome (more on them later) and returning characters fit right in. Chris Evans is still brilliant as Cap, and he’s got real good at making Cap’s all-American spirit and his unwavering goodness come off as entirely sincere. You agree with everything he does and understand why he does it. Which makes it more difficult when you also find yourself completely agreeing with his opponent; Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man. I’ll admit, going into the film I was a staunch believer in team Iron Man but after seeing it I’m just conflicted. And that’s a good thing. The film never presents either team as the ‘goodies’ or the ‘baddies’, you don’t want either of them to hurt the other. I feel the consensus will probably be that Cap’s right, purely because the driving force behind the final fight is Tony’s emotions, and Cap’s just trying to protect Bucky. But you completely understand why Tony wants to kill Bucky. You don’t necessarily want to see it happen but you get it. Well at least I did, I feel like everyone’s going to have a different opinion on the actions of the heroes in the film.
The additions to the Marvel pantheon are all great this time around, even the smaller ones. Martin Freeman’s appearance as Everett Ross, a government bureaucrat, is a nice little appearance, and he’s got the makings of a Marvel character who will reappear at a later date. Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo is also an unexpected surprise. He’s the one who puts the civil war into action but is quite an understated and surprisingly sympathetic villain. Chadwick Boseman is awesome as The Black Panther, and feels entirely different to any other superheroes currently in the MCU. He’s regal and dignified but kicks just as much ass as the others. His position as both superhero and the King or Wakanda will no doubt lead to some interesting stuff and I can’t wait to see it. The biggest new addition I think, for most people, is the MCU’s Spider-Man, played wonderfully by Tom Holland. It’s probably too early to say if he’s the best Spider-Man we’ve had on screen but I reckon he is. He’s much better than Andrew Garfield’s Spidey, that’s for sure. His standalone film will have to compete with Sam Raimi’s brilliant Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 but if it’s as good as his appearance in Civil War then I have high hopes.
The returning heroes are all great too, especially Paul Rudd’s Ant Man (or should that be Giant Man?). The interaction between heroes you’d never think would meet up is fun, and the reappearance of the Vision (in a smart-casual jumper and shirt combo no less) is a particular highlight. And for once War Machine gets something to do, which is nice. Frank Grillo pops up again as Brock Rumlow AKA Crossbones in an awesome opening scene that feels like it came straight from the comics, and William Hurt makes his first appearance since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk as the once General (now Secretary of State) Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross. It sounds convoluted and overstuffed but it’s really not; the Russo Brothers manage to balance things expertly. I would have liked a Nick Fury appearance, his take on the Avengers falling apart would have been interesting, but that’s a small nitpick in an otherwise perfectly conceived line up. The Russo brothers also manage to recapture what made the fight scenes in The Winter Soldier so good, and seeing them applying this brutal fight style to heroes like Iron Man is a sight to behold. The final fight between Iron Man, Cap, and Bucky, is absolutely fantastic and is even better for it’s more close range, up close nature. We have the big massive fight scene at the end of act two, what happens at the end of the film is more impressive due to how small scale and brutal it is. And in this one they don’t pull their punches.
The Bottom Line: Captain America: Civil War is the best film in the MCU. I know it’s easy to get caught in the hype and say that after every new release but it’s definitely true of Civil War. The action is as good as ever, the film remains funny despite the subject matter, and every single character in it (including the villain for once) is note perfect. But more than that, the film is a culmination of every film before it in a way that the Avengers films never really managed. The stakes are high but the outcome doesn’t destroy the future of the series, but at the same time the MCU won’t be the same ever again.
Reviewed By Tom