Review: Captain America: Civil War


Films in a sequence or series that have a job to do (i.e. get the plot from A to B, join one film to another etc) can often be weak. Films with obvious required plot beats can be dull. Films that are obliged to shoe-horn in characters (particularly superhero movies that have to fit in a required number of villains or heroes) can be boring and over stuffed.

I think, on balance, Civil War manages to just avoid each of these obstacles. It isn’t as tense and tight as Winter Soldier but it feels a lot more plot driven and focused than Age of Ultron. It is arguably the most dark and bleak of the current crop of Marvel films, with substantially less humor.

Despite the title this is equally an Iron Man movie as much a Captain America movie. It is Stark who is often moving the story along and it is Stark whose personal emotional journey is the most important. However, this is a deeply subdued Stark and hence he provides very little of his usual sparkle. While this does make for a darker tone, it adds a human quality to the story. Stark is feeling the cumulative impact of his decisions and the consequences of the destruction caused by the Avengers in Age of Ultron. The idea that the big-fun smash-bang extravaganza of superhero antics is a cause of real, personal human pain runs through the film from beginning to end. Again, no way of having that as a core theme of a superhero film without it have a somewhat depressed tone.

Still, its a Marvel superhero film so we want some fun and this is a film with a distinct job to do: bring in more superhero characters so that the roster can carry more spin-off movies an cycle through other actors.

Overall it does this job well without diverting too much from the plot of the film. Newish editions to the Avenger’s roster, Scarlet Witch and The Vision get a bit more depth than they did in Age of Ultron. Black Panther’s role is OK but a tad one-dimensional due to him getting an unthinking-revenge motivation for most of the film but overall the character is probably the third most significant superhero to the plot (after Captain America and Iron Man). Ant Man gets a look in and brings some much needed humor. Meanwhile Black Widow and Hawkeye provide a link to the previous roster of heroes.

For those interested in the complex web of who owns which Marvel character, the big issue is not the standard Avengers above but rather Spiderman. Tom Holland presents a very youthful Spiderman but has the wonderful advantage of other recent adapatations of not having to reprise an origin story or a back story or much of a Spider-specific story at all. It is primarily the fun aspects of Spiderman, web-slinging, cheeky spider-antics.

Most of this extra hero action is confined to a major set-piece battle at a German airport as the two sets of conflicting heroes square off – Captain America team running a maverick mission versus Iron Man’s team trying to keep them in check. The resulting chaos and mayhem rather prove Iron Man’s point whilst demonstrating that he really shouldn’t have tried to prove that point in the first place.

Dark, a bit of a glum entry into the Marvel suite with some fun sequences and some squee moments (Black Panther’s first appearance in costume). Unlike Age of Ultron, I’m keen to watch this again.



8 thoughts on “Review: Captain America: Civil War

  1. Of course, there are obvious comparisons with that other big “confrontation” film out at the moment, and basically, what they both demonstrate is the utter nonsense of trying to pit “heroes” against each other, when we know they’re on the same side – despite the efforts the artificial situations in which they are placed try to make us believe that there is some fake conflict and angst here.
    At least this one doesn’t sink quite to the level of “Martha” as a resolution, although it comes dangerously close (and, I must admit, leaving me deeply dissatisfied with the sheer mid-episode franchise nature of the ending.)


  2. Watched this the other day, and this is possibly my favourite of the Marvel movies alongside Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3.

    I think bringing in Ant man and Spider Man – who weren’t that invested in the whole fight – was a good idea, and injected some much needed humour.

    And I really, really liked the antagonist. His actions at the end, and his rationalisation of his methodology, we’re fantastic.

    A friend of mine called this the Bourne movie of the MCU. I’m tempted to agree.


    1. I was impressed with the villain. Very well done. Not what I expected – hard to say more without spoilers. Very good – fit with the spy-thriller aspect from Winter Soldier movie.


  3. Saw it yesterday (in 2d, I’ve given up on threed) and had fun. One significant improvement was that the Winter Soldier was much better explained and introduced than in the movie bearing his name – that one seemed to depend on you knowing quite a lot of Marvel lore.
    I have mixed feelings over the level of shoehorning extra heroes in, but I agree that on balance they handled it ok. I’d have preferred an expansion on Vision and Scarlet Witch though – as newish additions I think there’s more to be got out of them, and SW had some obvious issues only partially explored in this movie.
    And yes, the villain’s endgame was genuinely well-played.

    P.S. Noticed the new strap line, realised where it came from, grinned.


  4. Got bumped up to first class on my flight to LA from Calgary Comicon yesterday. Sat next to fancy Hollywoord writer for Marvel/ Cap America/ Coulson/ Fury, as one does. But I’ve said too much already.


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