Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd
The Avengers have once again reunited – not for Infinity War – but for the latest Captain America installment. To be fair, although every thinkable Marvel superhero is in the film, our beloved Captain remains the center of attention for the most part. Civil War is a true action movie – packed with plotlines and fight scenes to boot. But, it’s done so well and so expertly that it ends up setting a new ideal for the superhero genre.
Captain America (Chris Evans) and his team of Avengers are under the scrutiny of the world, for the damages they’ve caused in the recent MCU. As the captain so eloquently puts it himself, “This job…we try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody, but you don’t give up.” The United Nations insists that people are scared, and a solution is proposed: the Sokovia Accords, which would establish government control over the Avengers. This causes a rift between Steve, who is unwilling to sign the agreement, and Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), leading to a divide in the team.
What Captain America’s fans like most about him is his strong moral compass. So often, heroes are riddled with dark pasts (ahem, looking at you, Batman), and while Steve is by no means free from his demons, he hasn’t let them compromise his sense of ethics. Captain America has always upheld respect for authority, so it’s absolutely fascinating to see him protesting it for once. Evans does a great job in showing the hero in such a foreign state: torn by his sense of loyalty both to his childhood friend and to the Avengers. One of Snyder’s huge missteps with Batman v Superman was failing to do something meaningful with the intriguing themes he was bringing to light. Where Snyder failed, the Russo Brothers have succeeded, bringing in deep themes of vengeance, pride, ethical judgement, and actually developing them (but I won’t spoil how)! The film is bountiful in good messages, but not so much so that it feels like a campy episode on CW.
The Russo Brothers can’t have all the praise for the film’s content – because Markus and McFeely nailed the writing. Interesting new characters are introduced, like Spider-Man and Black Panther, and we get to learn more about the newest Avengers. While the film is filled with subplots and an entire ensemble cast, the main focus is never lost. Even though Black Panther’s origin story is neatly included, this plotline doesn’t detract from the “civil war” at hand. The cast is used just as an ensemble cast should be: to add another dimension to the plot and for comedic relief (Tom Holland is golden, albeit young, as Spider-Man), and they don’t overshadow Rogers or Stark. The plotlines aren’t difficult to follow, and they help keep the audience engaged for the lengthy two and a half hour runtime.
The ensemble cast is glorious, and it’s instantly established itself as one of my favorites. Until this point in the MCU, fans really don’t have a good idea of how the newbies like Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson, and the Vision will fit on the team. Civil War gives these heroes a chance to prove themselves to fans, before Infinity War. Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, and Paul Bettany are all fantastic in their roles, establishing their characters as likeable assets for the MCU.
Civil War is a dream come true for fans of the MCU – but this strength is also the film’s greatest weakness. The film expects its audience to be familiar, not only with the previous Captain America films, but also with everything that’s happened up until now in the MCU. So, the movie can either be seen as a gift for Marvel fans, or as something that doesn’t attract a wide enough audience – depending on how one sees things. Even so, the bottom line is that sequels are hard, and creating a successful trilogy is even harder. The only successful superhero trilogy that comes to mind is The Dark Knight, but it can confidently be said that with Civil War, the Captain America trilogy has joined the ranks.