The hype is real. Captain America Civil War aka The Avengers 2.5 is the best Avengers film out there yet. What works so well is that whilst it is 'masked' as an Avengers film, it really works as a Captain America film, concluding the initial trilogy, that just kept getting better with each installment.
After the events of New York, Washington and most recently in Nigeria, the Avengers' actions are called into question, with governments wanting to monitor and police the enhanced human 'race', which divides the group, with Tony Stark heavily for the bill, and Steve Rogers against.
When Bucky Barnes is seen at the scene of an explosion for the signing of the Sokovia accords, the Avengers are tasked with bringing him in, whilst Steve fights to keep him alive, making him a wanted criminal also.
Believing that his best friend Bucky is framed, Captain America goes against all odds and the other Avengers in order to prove Bucky's innocence.
What sets Captain America movies apart is that it is usually grounded in something very real, and very human. There are no aliens and otherworldly beings, just a strong plot revolving around friendship and brotherhood.
All the fuss about the Sokovia accords revolve around this tense relationship between national superhero Captain America and wanted criminal Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier), who are best friends. The choice Cap has to make between trusting and saving his best friend, or going against his 'new' friends/family is a genuinely tough decision. What IS right?
And here's where the other Avengers come into play. Each has their own story, their own allegiances and views on the matter- both in terms of Cap/Bucky and of the new bill. This two events are so tightly interwoven that really every 'superhuman' should be involved with. Their future, their freedom, their 'job' depends on it.
Whilst this is the case, some of the #TeamCap #TeamIronMan avengers seem slightly forced, like what are Ant Man's intentions in this (I haven't yet seen the Ant Man Movie so that might answer my question) and is Spider Man really just there for the jokes. What about Hawkeye coming out of retirement for this?
It seems slightly apparent that they wanted 6 avengers on each side and spent a long time figuring out who to include in the roster. I don't have a problem with that, it just seems slightly convenient and staged. Yes, I appreciate it's a blockbuster blah blah blah, but still... it would be great if they were to go a bit deeper with these characters. Ok I'm nitpicking.
The characters that they do go deeper with include Iron Man, who discovers the truth about his parents' death, and surprisingly Black Panther, who is more involved in this movie than I would've expected- I think heavily setting up for his solo movie.
Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow finally gets a solid arc, and out of all of them, I think was possibly the most intelligent in terms of her allegiances- and her action sequences were slick. I mean, real slick. It's the best we've seen her since 'The Avengers', though NOTHING beats that Russian torture scene. Yet. If this doesn't convince the guys at Marvel to give her her solo movie, I don't know what will. Plus, she's also a very human character with a complex narrative and psyche which I think is much needed within the MCU.
The big civil war fight between the two sides of the Avengers is everything you want it to be. It was one of the best action scenes, with humour, great choreography and just lighthearted fun. And it doesn't end there.
Chris Evans- Captain America/ Steve Rogers
Robert Downey Jr - Iron Man/Tony Stark
Scarlett Johansson- Black Widow
Sebastian Stan- Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie- Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle - War Machine
Jeremy Renner- Hawkeye
Elizabeth Olsen- Scarlett Witch
Paul Bettany- Vision
Chadwick Boseman-Black Panther
Paul Rudd- Ant Man
Tom Holland- Spider Man
Emily Van Camp- Agent 13
Daniel Bruhl- Zemo
Also stars Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei and Frank Grillo.
So many things have gone through my mind whilst writing this review, I don't think I've said everything I've wanted to which is evidence of a great movie- one that gets you talking on and on about.
Firstly, at the heart of Civil War is a true Captain America Story, which just happens to revolve around a legislative bill, affecting the other Avengers, dividing them and causing this in-fighting. Though at times convenient, it doesn't feel too forced, as it is something they should be fighting for, generating one of the best fight sequences in Marvel history.
I found this to be far more grounded than Age of Ultron and the dynamics between the Avengers far stronger than that, which is why this does feel like an Avengers 2.5. They definitely launched Phase 3 with a BANG!
That said, now that the trilogy is over, the future of Captain America's solo movies is still unknown since Chris Evans contract is up after the next two Avengers movies. The MCU doesn't seem to have that leading character in the latter end of this phase, so it remains to be seen how the MCU develops into Phase 4. It could be likely that his character be written into other characters' movies like RDJ's Iron Man. His last solo movie was in 2013, yet we've seen more of him than some others! Whatever happens, given their track record, we can trust that the guys at MCU know what they're doing.
SIDE NOTE (contains some spoilers)
Some comparison does have to made between this movie and Batman VS Superman. In certain senses, they are very very similar. Guilt of Batman and hatred of Superman could mirror Tony's guilt of killing that genius boy in Sokovia and then finding out who killed his parents and wanting revenge. Zemo kind of mirrors Lex Luthor in wanting to see the heroes battle it out against each other and killing each other, albeit a slightly less showy , and more personal way.
Perhaps what worked for Marvel is that we have two leads we've grown to love so much battle it out- they're friends, they've fought together, and now they disagree on something- there's years of films and backstory to each character that makes it so much more of an event. Introducing a new iteration of a much loved character and launching straight into a huge battle in BvS (which was convenient and shortlived) felt abrupt and frankly I didn't really care what happened.
I'm fine with the darker tone in movies, I think Hollywood needs a shake up with formulaic endings and really shock an audience - and what Nolan did with Batman was superb- and this new iteration was far from that- once again, it was probably too soon.
Marvel's monopoly on the lighthearted superhero thread seems a sure win, and I think its only rival will be the upcoming Suicide Squad, which if the trailers are anything to go by, will be a LOT of crazy fun, with some dark undertones. But if DC has anything to learn, it is patience.