Captain America: Civil War
A superhero dust-up only dreamed of while queuing at Forbidden Planet.

17 May 2016

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Plot summary

When the government sets up a governing body to oversee the Avengers, the team splinters into two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

After last month’s ‘other’ film about a tech savvy billionaire beefing with a benevolent super being, we get this month’s incarnation, Captain America: Civil War.

In Captain America: Civil War (although I think Captain America: Work Based Dispute has a snazzier ring) we find Steve Rogers and Tony Stark clashing when the spectre of collateral damage comes back to haunt them. Confronted with the civilian cost of their heroics, our super bros must face their greatest foe yet: each other. A guilt stricken Tony wants a government-controlled Avengers (“If we can’t accept limitations, we’re no better than the bad guys”) while a dubious Steve is cautious about sacrificing the Avengers’ heroic freedoms (“I know we’re not perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”) This forces the remaining Avengers into two camps…#TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. Thus begins a superhero dust-up only dreamed of while queuing at Forbidden Planet.

Are the Avengers indifferent to their actions? Do they really give a fudge about the innocents below when they’re knocking seven shades of Kryptonite (oops wrong film) out of each other? What happens to someone who’s lost a loved one because a giant green man flung their Nissan Micra at a flying Norse god? This is a meaty topic that Civil War doesn’t skimp on just to get to the fights. Collateral damage is the framework and heart of Civil War, it drives the drama at the centre of the film. See under the razzle-dazzle of its action packed set pieces (the 20 minute airport melee is astounding) and LOTS of jokes, Civil War plays stronger to the drama of the super-powered conflict. Whether it be the tragic motivation of the chief villain or Tony’s betrayal by a friend’s loyalty, these moments gives Civil War a gravitas not yet seen in a Marvel picture. I would got as far to say this is Marvel’s Magnolia.

Returning directors Anthony and Joe Russo balance a humongous array of characters, all the while juggling and weaving plot points from The Winter Soldier (Bucky’s Universal Soldier meltdown) and Age Of Ultron (Tony’s post-Sokovia guilt) with utter panache. It’s a highly impressive plate-spinning act in what could be best described the as ‘the ultimate Marvel movie posse cut’. The action is thrilling, with characters fighting as much with their personalities as they are with their powers. Though some early fights scenes are a bit drunk on the ol’ shaky cam, the aforementioned airport sequence is a real spectacle; the best superhero brawl you’ll have ever seen. Ant Man (Rudd) and new web-slinger on the block Spider Man (Holland) being comedy standouts in this sequence.

All nerves and endearing charm Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/ Spider Man is a perfect re-birthing of the character. None of Maguire’s drippiness or Garfield’s too-cool-for-school swagger. Holland’s Spidey is just happy to be invited to the party and we’re happy he showed up. Another welcome addition to this party is the regal air of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. A vengeance seeking African prince who is one…um…err…cool cat (I’m SORRY! I couldn’t help it!) But let’s not forget this is a Captian America film and in his fifth outing as the character, Chris Evans excels. He anchors himself as the noble hero conflicted by his faith in others. While Robert Downey Jr. showcases a melancholic and sincere Tony (he still quips a lot) which is highly refreshing if you’ve ever found the character *cough* irritating.

In the current climate of cinematic superhero over-saturation and fatigue,  Captain America: Civil War is a much needed jolt to the genre. It’s the superhero film that fans deserve, but also the one cinema needs right now.