Though saving incalculable lives on numerous occasions, the actions of The Avengers sometimes directly lead to civilian deaths and billions in collateral damage. After one such mission a guilt ridden Tony Stark (Iron Man) strikes an accord with the United Nations putting The Avengers under their supervision. Steve Rogers (Captain America), believing bureaucracy and politics will inevitably get in the way of helping people in dire need, opposes the accord leaving a rift in the ranks of The Avengers, but when the international announcement of the accord is sabotaged things go from bad to worse.
It’s no secret that we at Fanboy Confidential, like almost everyone else in the world, are huge fans of Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Brothers Russo crafting a sequel that is superior in every way to the first Captain America, fixing the lesser powered character as a major fulcrum of the Marvel Live-Action Universe and upping the standard and inventiveness of action for summer blockbusters while it was at it. In short, it was an absolute blinder!
As such, expectations for Captain America: Civil War are generally higher than for any Marvel film since the approach of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which, though excellent in places, once the literal and figurative dust settled, turned out to just be missing that little bit of magic that would’ve set it amongst the best of Marvel’s output.
Not so with Civil War though, not in any way, because The Russos have done it again, they’ve only gone and made another blinder!
Essentially a Captain America film in name only, Civil War pushes the agenda of the greater Marvel Universe to the Nth degree, using its two and a half hour running time expertly to expand the mythology of The Winter Soldier AND Tony Stark, make Cap and Iron Man both the conscience/hindrance of their equal but diverse view points, give pre-existing Avengers multiple moments to shine, greatly expand the character and purpose of Avengers introduced in Age of Ultron, seamlessly bring pre-existing characters into the Avengers fold and introduce new characters into the continuity both concisely and as true in spirit to their comic counter-points as you could ever have hoped.
Speaking of those latter two points, I can incontrovertibly say that Ant-Man, Black Panther and Spider-Man steal every scene they’re in, be it physically or characteristically, with BP and SM established beautifully as rounded characters with an efficiency of screen time rare in any kind of film.
The plot can’t be said to be as tight as that of Winter Soldier, one major plot point being tenuous enough to be better described as a gimmick to get key characters to the next place they need to be, but that besides, the story is on the ball and told at a pitch perfect yet deceptively laid back pace so as to seem organic in its unfolding, with none of the clunky interjections that Batman Vs. Superman was guilty of.
Yet again the action is imaginative, high impact and exciting, each action set-piece differing in tone and scale from the last, yet each stand-out in its own way, but where Winter Soldier was generally tech based or down to Earth this jumps effortlessly from dirty brawls to the most high-flying and sensational superhero action and back again, thinking through the characters and their abilities in smart ways that are a revelation when transposed from a static comic page to silver screen motion. It really is fantastic stuff and a trend I hope the Russos carry across to even greater success with the Infinity War films.
They also do a great line in slick editing which helps with the visual identity of the film as much as the excellent design and brilliant CG, which here are amongst the best Marvel have produced to date, but to comment on the look of a Marvel film or the quality of the performances therein is almost a mute point, the execution of which almost always being stellar.
I’d be very surprised if Civil War doesn’t go right into the top five of everyone’s favourite Marvel films as it’s a staggering achievement of entertainment, pacing, character diversity and action. Where its plot isn’t as streamlined as Winter Soldier it has sequences that go beyond what that film was capable of and has a nice through-line of humour that was previously missing from the Cap films, so personal preference will dictate which of the two you like best.