Spoilers (for this film and Dawn of Justice) follow
Due to the destruction and collateral damage caused on their missions, especially that accidentally caused by the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in Nigeria, superhero team The Avengers are told they are to be put under government supervision. Captain America (Chris Evans), wishing to be freer in the team’s crimefighting, opposes this notion, while Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), guilty at the deaths caused, supports it, and the Avengers are split into two camps against each other. Later, Captain America sees that a bombing is being pinned on his old friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and goes to find him.
Being a film that features many of a certain comic company’s flagship heroes, and has two of those heroes against each other, an obvious comparison to make to Civil War would be to last month’s Batman v Superman. Both films have a lot of characters to juggle, but in the case of Civil War, they’ve at least had more time to develop and build up these characters. While Dawn of Justice felt like it needed to have another movie before it, the two main opposing heroes of Civil War have been properly developed and their reasons for their alliances is understandable. Superman died too soon in the DC Cinematic Universe, while Civil War‘s story feels like it was released at the right time.
The film has Captain America in the title, and he is the main character, but nearly all of the Avengers get a chance to shine. One particular stand-out is the newcomer Spider-man (Tom Holland), who may not appear that often, but is so humourously geeky that you just want to see more of him. The characters on both sides are well-written and entertaining to watch, and you care about what happens to our titular Captain, as opposed to the rather bland Superman of Dawn of Justice.
Civil War may deal with the consequences of the Avengers’ rather violent actions, but that doesn’t mean the film is afraid to indulge in a little action from time to time, and the action scenes it offers is extremely well-done. The airport fight is every bit as exciting as one might have heard it is, mixing fast-paced battles, lovable characters and hilarious comic relief into a glorious unified whole. Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man, and his role at the airport more than justifies his reappearance.
But what is really justified here is the existence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Dawn of Justice showed us videos of Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, it felt like a discordant attempt to “catch up” with Marvel, and we all rolled our eyes when we heard news of a “Hanna Barbera cinematic universe”. This cinematic universe, however, gives us some interesting storylines, more than just “good guy beats up bad guy”, and some entertaining characters who play well off each other. It’s a universe that, despite the death and destruction, is a nice place to visit from time to time.
Captain America: Civil War is probably one of Marvel’s best, bringing fine drama, action and humour, reminding us why it’s a good thing this universe is being kept alive.