Chris Evan‘s Captain Steve Rogers and the inimitable Robert Downey Jr‘s Tony Stark end up on opposite sides after Stark’s guilt from the destruction that the Avengers leave in their wake leads him to demand that the team are put in check by the UN. Cap can’t quite agree to the boundaries, adamant that the Avengers must remain independent in order to fight when they’re needed.
As events unfold involving Winter Solder Bucky Barnes’s past, Captain America is forced to go rogue and break the rules, and the whole gang turn on each other in a battle of morals. Cue extremely satisfying fight scene with more supers together than we’ve ever seen before. Except maybe X-Men.
This movie feels like Marvel is growing up. It’s becoming about more than just smart one liners (though there are plenty of those) and how many buildings you can destroy in one action set piece. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve always thoroughly enjoyed most of the Marvel films, especially the Avengers, but Civil War feels like a step up.
We really start to see the morality of the Avengers questioned in a believable way, and you can completely understand both points of view in the debate over the Sokovia Accords that would bring the team to account. The rift between the two sides is real, tangible, you can feel it, and you’re able to sense that they don’t really want to fight each other, but are unable to give up their principles in order to stop.
The quality of the action scenes contributes a lot to the feeling that Marvel have stepped up their game, too. Despite being directed by the Russo brothers rather than Paul Greengrass himself, the car chases and fight scenes have a distinct Bourne feel to them – not to mention the shot of Bucky jumping off a roof that’s seriously reminiscent of that chase in Marrakesh from The Bourne Ultimatum. There’s some serious speed but also a realness to the action scenes that really makes each of the set pieces more impressive than the other.
One of our favourite fights is between Cap, Bucky and Iron Man near the end, with the punches being thrown and the shield flying between characters so fluidly it’s like a dance routine. And, of course, seeing two sides of the Avengers run towards each other in battle is somewhat of a nerd’s wet dream, but it’s pulled off effortlessly, with each character getting their own starring moments.
Speaking of characters, the introduction of new ones is also a highlight. Chadwick Boseman‘s Black Panther is everything you want him to be; regal, righteous and lithely feline. His grudge against Bucky drives the plot and the end sets us up nicely for his solo film, which we’re really looking forward to.
And how could we talk about new characters without a hat tip to Tom Holland‘s new Spiderman? We’re really not sure we needed another Spiderman reboot, but can’t deny how endearing and entertaining Tom is in this role. With his own film coming up too, Spiderman: Homecoming, we’re excited to see what new places the webbed hero can go to next.
Above all, we have to applaud the chemistry between Evans and Downey Jr as the heads of the opposing sides – you feel the history between them, and we get to see a new side to both characters.
As with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a lot of the plot is driven by the backstory and unpredictability of Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, who does a good job of kicking ass as well as showing vulnerability. Whilst we like the chance to learn more about his past, there’s definitely a lot of room for development with Bucky’s character, beyond the fact that he can’t always control his violence and can’t undo his past.
Thanks to a huge cast that each do a stellar job, it’s almost impossible to go through everyone’s contribution – but rest assured it all works well together. This film could so easily have been too crowded, or have introduced characters only to neglect them, but that never happens here.
As the film ends, the future of the Avengers is up in the air – where do we go from here? With Avengers: Infinity War coming up in the next couple of years, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
Order Captain America: Civil War on DVD here, or watch the trailer below.