Captain America: Civil War (12a)
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Paul Rudd
Run time: 2hrs 27mins
A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality- John Galt, Atlas Shrugged
Perhaps more than any other superhero film, the Captain America movies have dealt with accountability for their hero’s actions. Batman V Superman touched on the fallout from Man of Steel but it’s hard to argue that inaction on Superman’s behalf would have had a peaceful resolution. Here the lines are much more blurred.
After another Avengers mission ends with the loss of innocent lives, accountability comes a knocking in the form of William Hurt’s General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross. Admittedly it’s hard for me to take a speech about responsibly for your actions from a man who was last seen pumping a clearly mad as a bag of spiders Tim Roth full of super juice, so he could fight the Hulk in a one of the worsts most populated cities. The Sokovia Accords, which is essentially global superhero legislation, is the blue touch paper that ignites the divide between earth’s mightiest heroes.
The film’s strength is that it never presents either side’s argument as a clear right or wrong and, unlike Batman V Superman, in which the titular conflict could have been resolved with a 30 second conversation (or shouting mother’s names at each other), here debate isn’t avoided, it’s encouraged with both Stark and Rogers desperately trying to find middle ground before resorting to more violence.
It’s not a spoiler to say they don’t reach a peaceful solution: this isn’t Captain America: Civil camping trip, after all. But when it does, it’s glorious.
Seamlessly introducing new characters like Black Panther, while reintroducing us to old ones like Ant-Man – Paul Rudd almost walks off with the movie in his all too brief screen time. – the action is peerless, culminating with perhaps the finest scene the MCU has ever produced as our heroes confront each other at an evacuated airport. It’s an exhilarating mix of action, humour and drama that will leave audiences breathless.
The action is complemented by the wonderful central drama which plays out at times like a (b)romance as Stark playing the jilted ex as Cap reconnects with Bucky, which also leaves Falcon feeling like a third wheel in this love square.
Marvel’s first iteration of Spider-Man is played perfectly by Tom Holland with the right mix of overwhelmed and excited. It may be a bit early too call him the finest cinematic version of the character but I venture it won’t be long before he “is” Spider-Man the same way Downey “is” Tony Stark. Fellow debutant Chadwick Boseman (how in god’s name is he 40 years old?!) as Black Panther is note perfect as the vengeful heir to the Wakandan throne.
One thing Marvel movies have fallen down on (with the exception of Loki) is their lack of memorable villains. Here Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo is a much more subtle and personal threat then a never ending stream of aliens and robots crashing into buildings. Although the character bears virtually no resemblance to his comic book incarnation but it suits the much more scaled down but ultimately more devastating threat.
Overall, the film is a master class in blockbuster movie making.
I must confess to not being the biggest fan of Winter Soldier but here the Russos have hit the mark brilliantly. The film may only have a passing resemblance to the comic book of the same name but it is rich with the lore of not only Mark Millar’s opus but in some of the best Captain America stories. Giving one of the heroes more famous speeches to another character gives it a whole new heft .
Unlike a lot of Marvel films (this is the 13th) there seems like an over aching story line where there will be consequences for our heroes’ actions and not a case of rinse, repeat and onto the next one. Captain America: Civil War mixes breathless action with cracking humour and takes its place as one of the best comic book movies ever made.
5 out of 5 Nerds