Captain America: Civil War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, is the third film in the Captain America series and the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Disagreement over the Sokovia Accords, which would have the Avengers controlled and overseen by a United Nations panel, fractures the team to two opposing sides, one led by Steve Rogers and the other by Tony Stark. When Steve’s old friend Bucky, the Winter Soldier, resurfaces as public enemy number one, he must fight against these new restrictions in order to protect his friend.
While billed as a Captain America movie, the character is so engrossed in the Avengers at this point that this movie felt very much like an Avengers title, especially since a lot of the story follows in the wake of the events from Age of Ultron. The Captain is still the protagonist and the focus is very much on him closing the circle on his story with Bucky, but the plethora of other characters populating the movie makes it feel bigger than that too.
Without at doubt this movie was the most fun Marvel outing I have seen in a long time, and I haven’t particularly disliked anything the studio has produced recently. Character-wise I think the movie was really spectacular. Despite the large cast nobody felt underused nor did it feel too busy. Even those who make more limited appearances like Ant-Man and Spider-Man left some of the greatest impressions. There was a good balance of humour, action, drama, and heart, making everybody captivating to watch.
While the cynic in me couldn’t help but feel that Spider-Man was added to the film because Marvel wanted to get him into the MCU as soon as they could, his portrayal was quite possibly the best done on film so far. Tom Holland brought the good-natured, under-confident Peter Parker to life wonderfully. It was fun to realize that Spider-Man was one of the strongest heroes in the film, though his lack of experience is demonstrated appropriately as well.
While I was less excited for the character because I haven’t read any of his titles, it was exciting to see Black Panther on the big screen as well. Though a supporting character, he had his own clear arc throughout that was woven well into the story. This film did a lot to expand the MCU with these two new characters, which has helped invigorate my interest in future films. There are so many superhero films every year that it’s hard to stay enthusiastic sometimes.
Where this movie did end up falling a little flat for me, despite the excitement, was the plot. The conflict of the story is torn two ways: the dispute over the Accords and the machinations of Helmut Zemo, the recognized villain of the story. Both cross over and affect one another in clear ways, but I feel the plot related to Zemo was too underwritten, especially since a lot of the time his plans seemed to exploit the fissure the Accords was already causing rather than having a big impact on his own. Upon reflection, a lot of his plan also seemed to require a lot of coincidences in order to go exactly the way he wanted, making it now harder for me to suspend my disbelief.
A villain plotting to cause dissent in the ranks of the Avengers is hardly unexplored territory either. This has literally happened every time the team has been featured together in a movie. I was a lot more interested in the situation with the Accords being a greater focal point, perhaps giving a more villainous role to a figure of power and influence rather than an outside party consumed by revenge.
Captain America: Civil War was a great entry in the series, keeping the MCU train on track and going strong. It was a little weak in some of its plot elements, but this is forgiven thanks to great action and fun, compelling characters. While some Marvel films can be skipped over, this is one you won’t want to miss.