THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
After The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier, it was clear that the Captain America films were the most popular solo series within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This was largely due to Chris Evans’ career-making performance as shield-wielding super-soldier from Brooklyn. Several months after The Winter Soldier‘s release, Marvel shocked the world with the subtitle of the threequel: Civil War. Around the world, fans of the Marvel comics rejoiced, knowing that one of the most popular arcs in the history of superhero comics was going to be brought to the screen. Unfortunately, the film shares very few similarities to the comic, with the storyline taking a drastically different path than the pages did. Fortunately, that doesn’t prevent the film from being among the best of the MCU.
In Captain America: Civil War, after one tragedy too many, the governments of the world decide that The Avengers need to be controlled, working under the authority of governments. However, the team becomes divided and following the re-emergence of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), friendships are tested as the division explodes into all-out war.
One thing that has made the Captain America films stand out is the darker tone that is not typically seen in MCU films. Captain America: Civil War is arguably the darkest MCU film to date, with a much-decreased emphasis on comedy and more emphasis on drama. Considering the foundation of the conflict between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) revolves around Tony’s unresolved anger over his parent’s deaths, it’s not surprising that the Russo brothers chose to dial down the comedy. There are, of course, still the typical humour you’d expect to find in the MCU, but it never feels overdone or forced.
Another aspect that the Captain America films have always done better than the other solo films was the action. This is largely due to the hands-on nature of the character compared to the technological prowess of Iron Man or the mythical powers of Thor. Civil War is filled with memorable action sequences but as I’m sure you expect, the standout remains the iconic airport sequence. There’s not a lot to be said about it that hasn’t been said before. It’s inventive, enthralling and quite simply, spectacular. It is without a doubt, the best action sequence in the entire MCU and one of the greatest, if not the greatest action sequence in comic book film history.
At the heart of Civil War is a story of friendship and loss. The events of the film test Steve’s loyalty to his friend Bucky, most significantly when it is revealed that Bucky was responsible for the deaths of Tony’s parents. This conflict it sets up, forever alters the dynamics of the MCU and has me extremely intrigued about how Avengers: Infinity War will handle the aftermath of Civil War. The film does something truly spectacular as it makes Tony Stark a human being. Previously, he had come across as untouchable. The hero that while often a drunk idiot, would always do the right thing. However, Civil War destroys that perception in the third act, turning him into a vengeful son, determined to kill his parents’ killer. The film does a great job of balancing its representations of the characters, making the audience question which character is morally right in their actions. Watching Cap and Iron Man engage in a brutal fight is heartbreaking but greatly rewarding given the difference of ideologies that had been presented right from their first interaction in The Avengers.
Civil War also marks the debuts of Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Both immediately make their presence in the MCU known with performances that not only feel totally in-sync with the veterans of the franchise but actually outshine them. Having seen their own solo films, its safe to say that Marvel has two more cases of perfect castings.
As for the rest of the cast, there is not a single poor performance. Everyone gets their moment to shine, including minor characters such as Crossbones (Frank Grillo) and the returning Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt). Robert Downey Jr. is given an opportunity to play an emotionally damaged Tony Stark, something that he was never given during his own trilogy or the first two Avengers films.
That being said, the villain, Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is underused. Having lost his entire family during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he plots to tear the Avengers apart from the inside, enacting his plan from the sidelines. This, unfortunately, means that the audience hardly sees any of him. As his motivations are understandable and relatable the character ends up being sympathetic, immediately making him a standout, if underused villain within the MCU. What’s frustrating is that the character had real potential and it’s just a shame that he is given such a small role in the film. That being said, the final scene with between Zemo and Black Panther is outstanding, as the King lets go of the rage that had plagued him after his father’s death when confronted with a man who had let his own rage consume him.
Superhero films can’t seem to function without a romance, and Captain America: Civil War is apparently no different. It’s just a shame that the romance introduced in the film is so creepy. Following the funeral of his love, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Steve gives into his feelings and kisses none other than Peggy’s great-niece, Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp). It’s a romance that has disgusted comic fans for years and considering that there had been very little interaction between the characters prior in The Winter Soldier, it ends up not only being creepy, but rather random.
In the end, Captain America: Civil War is an exceptional film within the MCU. The film benefits from having a more serious tone and showing the darker aspects of Tony Stark. It’s not surprising that the film is so beloved by fans, even though it is almost unrecognisable with its source material.