Marvel have done it again! Captain America: Civil War sees the studio firing on all cylinders in what is their most confident and captivating entry to date.
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The sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe has had its ups (The Avengers) and its downs (Iron Man 2), but to the relief of many, I can report that the latest entry, Captain America: Civil War, rates somewhere alongside the former. It isn’t just good, it’s really, really good – possibly the best film in the series to date.
After a routine operation goes awry, public outcry concerning the collateral damage that the Avengers leave in their wake becomes too loud for the team to ignore. Racked with guilt, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) finds himself siding with the United Nations in leading the charge for accepting new accountability measures; on the other hand, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is firmly opposed, arguing that the Avengers’ mandate is to operate outside of the tyranny of corrupt governments. This friction explodes into chaos when Rogers’ brainwashed best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) returns to wreak havoc.
Civil War successfully acts a sequel to both 2014’s The Winter Solider and 2015’s Age of Ultron, a task that at first appears impossible, but in reality is executed with ease. Returning directors Joe and Anthony Russo have effortlessly straddled the duality of Civil War being both a solo Captain America film and a broader Avengers ensemble piece, lending equal weight to both elements and ensuring that our titular hero isn’t lost among the numerous other characters and story arcs.
Speaking of other characters, there are LOTS. As well as Iron Man, Civil War includes Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) all returning to the fold to takes sides with either Tony or Steve in the looming conflict. They’re not just here to decorate the background either; the Russo Brothers juggle their numerous arcs to lend each of their appearances a degree of necessity, without sacrificing the coherence of the central narrative. We see Scarlet Witch struggling with the consequences of her immense power; Black Widow torn between two friends; and Vision wrestle with the notion of being human.
New recruits in the form of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) are handled wonderfully also. The latter receives a reintroduction so fantastic, that it’ll make you wish his upcoming solo reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming, arrives next week rather than next year.
The true brilliance of Civil War isn’t the expertly choreographed action sequences (of which there are plenty) or the hilarious dialogue (par for the course at this point). No, the real home run with this film is that it doesn’t take sides. This might be a Captain America film, but both Steve and Tony give well-rounded, coherent arguments that are a by-product of their character development up to this point. When the fists start to fly, it’s a genuinely affecting moment because both sides are right and it pains the audience to choose.
The only weak link in the cast is Daniel Brühl’s shadowy conspirator, Zemo; as a villain he’s much more restrained than Loki or Ultron, but ultimately comes across as just a generic evil German with an ambiguous agenda.
Captain America: Civil War doesn’t just make your heart sing, it’ll make your brain whir and your soul stir. Action and emotion aplenty, this is Marvel’s most well-rounded and mature instalment to date, mixing its signature sense of humour and inventive set pieces with engaging character drama and gleeful cameos.
Captain America: Civil War is available in Australian cinemas from April 28
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures