Captain America: Civil War has been hailed by many as a vastly superior superhero blockbuster and perhaps the best film in Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) history. Is it as mature, intelligent and coherent as most seem to think? We break it down via easy to digest sections.[symple_heading style=”” title=”Comparisons To Batman v Superman” type=”h1″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
The general consensus is that the two films, Civil War and Batman v Superman, are basically identical in plot but Captain America is a significantly better film. It’s true to an extent. Both films involve two heavyweight superhero’s facing off believing they’re in the right. However in Batman v Superman, neither character were friends or even acquaintances previous to their conflict, unlike Captain Steve Rogers and Tony Stark (Iron Man). So in this respect Marvel had higher stakes and a more complex story at their disposal. Additionally, in BvS, Batman was really the only character that made any compelling arguments or justifications for his actions. Superman was essentially just a jerk. In Captain America both sides of the fight make relatable points and their decisions are more agreeable. However, I do have some reservations about this which will be discussed later. More similarities arise when we take note of the ensemble casts, and the ultimate conflict becoming a joint effort against a greater threat.
The main difference between the two films is that Marvel has a greater grasp of their characters and do a better job of balancing the tone of their films. They know exactly when to lighten the mood, and when to knuckle down. The best thing about Captain America: Civil War is that they didn’t go too hard for humour. Most laughs seemed natural rather than contrived and were in-character. BvS had no outlet for this. If DC were attempting it with Lex Luthor, they failed.[symple_heading style=”” title=”General Impressions of Captain America: Civil War” type=”h1″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
It certainly kicks-off like a Captain America film, with Rogers (Chris Evans) leading his team on a mission in Africa, near Wakanda. Along for the ride are Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
From the very first scene, the action and spectacle of this film is amazing. The cinematography and stunt-work is second to none. From start to finish, every action sequence has a feeling of intensity to it. Even more impressive is that the film does this without feeling the need to blow up entire cities.
Things go awry for the team when they inadvertently bomb some civilians while stopping a terrorist. For the rest of the world, especially the Wakandan King, this is the last straw after the destruction previous Avengers battles have caused. It’s time these hero’s held some accountability for their actions, even though the casualties would have been much higher had the Avengers not been there. What follows is a back and forth between everyone (excluding Thor and Hulk who no one knows the whereabouts of) about whether they should agree to the Government’s terms of being kept in check. Some realise the sense in having order and authority hierarchy’s while others bemoan the time it would waste and hassle it would cause when important events take place. Given that 117 countries want to sign the agreement, titled the Sarcovia Accords, it seems likely everyone will eventually agree. They didn’t count on the stubbornness of the Cap though.
Things only get worse when the ever unfortunate Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes is implicated in a serious attack. Black Panther, son of the Wakandan King, is especially enraged. Without spoiling anything, the film plays out from there in a way that transforms it more into another Avengers film, or even an Iron Man film, then a Captain America feature. Each ‘side’ has their reasons for being willing to fight their friends but we learn that some have a higher moral standing than others.
Another great aspect of this film is the relationship between characters. The friendships feel real, the drama is believable as everyone struggles between loyalty and their own principles. Black Widow is one who is increasingly torn between remaining true to Captain America while also acknowledging Iron Man’s convictions. You get the sense of history between all of them but of further development on nearly every front as well. Vision and Scarlet Witch in particular have some very interesting moments but just like Black Widow, she finds herself struggling internally about what is right. Eventually she is swayed when Hawkeye, who she is also close with, forces her hand.
All in all the story is handled very well.[symple_heading style=”” title=”Steve Rogers” type=”h1″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
Captain America is perhaps the most noble of all the heroes and his reasoning is hard to argue with. Of everyone, he probably has the clearest head and thus makes, for me, the most balanced points. When his friend Bucky is blamed for a horrible attack he stays strong rather than relenting (a motivation that is tied in very well in another scene) knowing that things couldn’t be as simple as they seemed, and that there could be a more serious threat posed. There’s a depth to his relationship with The Winter Soldier you don’t often see in superhero films which makes his story all the more compelling. The plight of Bucky is quite touching and something the audience can really get on board with. We see Rogers at his most independent and likeable here as he only has himself and his buddy Sam Wilson to rely on, making him vulnerable, as they try to uncover the truth. His relationship with Tony Stark is just as detailed and complicated, giving him a lot to think about. Allowing for such depth in character brings him to life like never before.[symple_heading style=”” title=”Iron Man” type=”h1″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is the real catalyst for Civil War and this is where the film runs into it’s only problem. While Iron Man makes some totally viable points for signing the Sarcovia Accords (UN agreement) to place the Avengers under supervision, one can’t help but feel he’s acting out of character. He continues to do this throughout the film. If Tony Stark is know for one thing, it’s his intelligence. His analytical brain is his real power and it seems like he turns that off during this movie and allows his heart to take over. When faced with the reality that he has in some part caused the death of innocents he has an attack of conscience, admitting that yes the Avengers have caused atrocities. In reality, without the Avengers humans would be in much deeper excrement, with many more dead. Tony should realise this but his guilt overrides him.
When Captain America sides with Bucky, Tony should know he wouldn’t do it without reason. I mean, what are the chances of Steve Rogers going off the reservation and becoming a real criminal? Instead of being loyal and trusting his friend, Stark maintains that he’s right about everything despite not having much information to go on. Finally, when the villain of the film unleashes his plan to get the Avengers to destroy each other from the inside out, Iron Man falls for it instead of stopping to think for a minute. Admittedly he’d been dealt a huge emotional blow but still, he should have been able to disconnect given the way his mind works.[symple_heading style=”” title=”Spiderman, Ant-Man, and Black Panther” type=”h1″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
Big excitement for fans was to be the inclusion of these three characters. Having not been part of the Avengers scene before it was nice for them to freshen everything up. Spiderman and Ant-Man are two characters who add a lot of humour to the film. Spiderman was fantastic once he got in on the action, but the way he was introduced was clumsy, shallow and rushed. Because of this, we didn’t root for him like we might have or like we should have. Ant-Man was similarly thrust into the story but he comes straight in from his own film without any alteration to his character or central story. Both of them made the hero brawl a lot of fun. Black Panther was just bad-ass from beginning to end and was very exciting to watch.[symple_heading style=”” title=”Final Thoughts” type=”h1″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
In recent years superhero films have more than saturated the cinematic environment and sometimes its hard to not get tired of seeing them. Judging each film on its own merits becomes difficult. Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, and Nolan’s Batman trilogy have certainly been the best exponents and films I would happily watch again. Of the others I don’t have the same feelings. Captain America: Civil War is a very good example of the genre and probably is the most mature and complex version we’ve seen so far. However, it still wasn’t as enjoyable for me as the films I’ve listed. Certainly a must watch if you are immersed in the MCU though.