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Review: Captain America: Civil War

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“You just started a war.” (Source: Marvel Entertainment)

Marvel’s grand experiment – their Marvel Cinematic Universe, with cross-overs and joint continuity, like comic books – has unleashed its thirteenth entry [1]. Captain America: Civil War pits Captain America (Chris Evans) against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), as the Avengers fracture and friends fight.

This film borrows the concepts, but not the exact story, from the Civil War comic book stories in 2006.

(Video: Marvel Entertainment)

A flashback shows the brainwashed super soldier Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), being dispatched from a Hydra base to intercept a car carrying the super soldier serum, and assassinate the occupants. Steve Rogers, as Captain America, begins the film running an operation in Lagos, to prevent the theft of a biological weapon, when his adversary Crossbones himself up. Using telekinesis, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) tries to lift up and displace the blast, but destroys a nearby building, killing humanitarian workers in Wakanda.

The Sokovia Accords

Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), who last appeared in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) will pass the Sokovia Accords, which will place the superhero team under the oversight and control of a UN panel.

This proposals divides the Avengers: Tony Stark, feeling the immense guilt of collateral deaths from Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s annihilation, supports the new oversight; Rogers, following his fight against the government agency SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Solder, places more faith in his own judgement than a UN panel. Rogers fears the panel will not authorise the Avengers to be where they are needed, or will make them go where they are not needed.

There is a bomb attack on the ratification meeting, with Barnes blamed for the death of the Wakandan King. His son, T’Challa, the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), vows revenge. Rogers wants to bring his friend to justice, with agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) informing Rogers that the government will shoot to kill Barnes. Meanwhile, Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) has found Barnes’ former Hydra handler, and the key to the Winter Soldier’s brainwashing.

Civil war

Heroes fight. Tony Stark assembles a team of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), T’Challa, James Rhdoes (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Peter Parker (Tom Holland). This is to intercept those heroes aligned to Rogers: Barnes, Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Remner), Maximoff, and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).

This film felt like the natural culmination of many years of intertwined story-lines. Despite the name, and the absence of Thor and the Hulk, this is indisputably an Avengers film. Captain America: Civil War manages to keep the humour – mainly delivered by Ant-Man and Spider-Man – whilst it deals with serious, thought-provoking topics. The action scenes are incredible to watch.

More than that, the villain had a coherent and creative plan. The schism between Rogers and Stark has grown since they first met, so this battle feels earned and expected, rather than manufactured and manipulated. It is not that one is the hero and the other is the antihero – Rogers’ morality remains his strength – but they are two titans of legitimate, differing views.

The Captain transformed

The acting is very good, with Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr delivering excellent performances. Daniel Bruhl provides an understated, threatening but understandable villain. Beyond the headline names, Elizabeth Olsen acts well, showing the potent Scarlet Witch as conflicted between the warring friends, and Tom Holland gives an energetic performance as a young Peter Parker.

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This is an awesome scene. (Source: Huffington Post)

The Captain America films have transformed Rogers from the willing propagandist to the insurgent renegade. This film may not be a good place to jump into the MCU, but remains one of its strongest entries.

References

[1] Jolin, D., 2016. Captain America: Civil War Review. Empire. Available from: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/captain-america-civil-war/review/ [Accessed: 13th May 2016]

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2016 by in Reviews and tagged , .
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