Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Tom Holland, Paul Rudd, Daniel Bruhl, William Hurt
Plot: After a mission gone wrong in Lagos, Captain America (Rogers) and Iron Man (Downey Jr) butt heads over making the Avengers a government body, rather than a private army.
DC have been struggling, bless them. Marvel Studios have done what would have been considered impossible a decade ago and made a massive cinematic universe, connecting dozens of characters, actors and plotlines into one continuing series of superhero movies. Desperate for in on the action, DC (as well as other popular films such as King Kong/Godzilla and Gothic monsters, such as Dracula Untold), have tried to follow suit. However, their attempts feel unnatural, a grab at cash. DC acts as a lesson in how not to go about creating a Marvel Universe, so fixed on the doom and gloom they forgot to focus on the bigger picture.
In many regards, this is the MCU’s most serious picture to date. The camp origin stories are distant memories, the big fun Avengers team-ups have been done and the neat side adventures of Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy wouldn’t work here. So, right from the off, Anthony and Joe Russo hit us with a movie unlike any we have seen before. The entire plot of Civil War (with some obligatory asides), is the Avengers being split down the middle on a document. William Hurt, not seen since 2008’s Incredible Hulk, issues a document that says the best way to stop further loss of life is to make the Avengers a government agent, answering to the country rather than acting on their own accords. After Age of Ultron, a world crisis completely created by their own wrong-doing, meant the U.S.A had no say in the Avengers smashing up Sokovia, outside of American jurisdiction. Tony Stark, haunted by his tattered life as Iron Man, wants to let go of the responsibility and stop carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Captain America, admitting that the Avengers aren’t perfect, still thinks their hands are the safest. We are now given an interesting debate as well as a superhero movie. The ‘are we doing any good?’ storyline has been used this the dawn of superhero stories, but here, we are given the most intricate attempt at answering the question. Just when you think you have picked a side, the debate is thrown open. The Winter Soldier returns and the Avengers disagree with the government’s orders. However, are the Avengers blinded by Captain America’s former friendship with Bucky Barnes? Before watching this film, everyone was picking a side: Team Rogers or Team Stark. This was usually based on your preference of hero. Captain America is a beacon for good, but Tony has Black Widow on his side. However, the truth of the matter is that you will be undecided until the very end, as the clash between Rogers and Stark evolves in unpredictable ways. A twist at the end is genius and proves that sometimes intelligence is much better than doom and gloom. A lesson DC should take with them after watching Civil War.
But, of course, Civil War’s greatest weapon is that it still clings to this sense of fun. Yes, Civil War has its depressing moments, taking time to emotionally examine the characters we have grown to love, but it still understands it is solid blockbuster entertainment. Therefore, in between the politics and heart-breaking shocks, we have wise-cracks and a good old-fashioned punch-up. The Avengers movies still remain satisfyingly adept at balancing its cast. Here, Captain America, of course, gets centre of attention. This is still Cap’s movie, after all, which helps the Russos avoid the issue of dragging Thor and Hulk back into the debate. But none of the superheroes are forgotten in the heat of the moment. Black Widow delightfully turns this superhero movie into a martial arts action for just long enough to add a kick to proceedings. Ant-Man shows up briefly, but gets one of the biggest set-pieces to play with. Scarlett Witch, who is potentially the most important person to develop, as she is one of the new girls on the block, gets a little character arc, where she comes to terms with being too powerful to control. She becomes the figurehead for the Avengers privatisation debate. For a long while, you wonder if Civil War even needs a villain. There are two on the peripheries of the story. One of them was used a lot in the marketing, but really is just an opening gambit to set the movie up with. Another is less Ultron, and more silent mastermind, pushing the story where it needs to go. In terms of the latter, we could argue he is an anti-climax, but perhaps it is time Avengers went for the smaller threat, rather than the Thanos-sized one. The real enemies are themselves, which is proven by a terrific fight that feels like it takes up the majority of the movie. Both sides of the Avengers fight in an abandoned airport and everything is thrown into the pot. Black Panther, a lesser known hero, solidifies himself as a fan favourite. There is a cute moment where Hawkeye and Widow reaffirm their friendship while punching each other. Powers are played with, the writers experiment with each hero’s limits. It is the very essence of fun and while Avengers Assemble probably remains the best Marvel yet, due to a holistic nature, this one scene will be up there with the MCU’s greatest triumphs.
Oh, and Spider-Man? Absolutely brilliant.
Final Verdict: This is Marvel’s most serious movie yet, but you wouldn’t know it with the usual entertaining ensemble work we have grown to love.