It feels only natural that just a few months after DC released their big superhero rumble Marvel should come along with one of their own. For so long DC has been chasing at Marvel’s coattails and attempting to replicate their cinematic world that it is nice to see them doing something first for once. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop Captain America: Civil War from beating Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice at nearly every turn.
For one thing, this movie feels earned. By this point nearly everyone that sees this film will have experienced at least one Marvel adventure and unlike DC’s universe, it has taken a long time for them to get here. They’ve built it and when everything falls apart it makes sense. These heroes are all friends, and they don’t want to fight. In fact, before they fight they spend a lot of time talking which leads to a bit of a baggy opening hour as they try desperately to do everything apart from having a rumble. Unfortunately, that’s not to be, and chaos soon reigns.
That chaos is split between two teams. Team Iron Man, who following the events of Age of Ultron, believe that something needs to change. That The Avengers need to be under someone’s control to prevent tragedy striking again. On the other side is Team Cap, who after their experiences with SHIELD and Hydra are anxious about government interference. They believe that mistakes have been made but that The Avengers are still in the best position to deal with the threats that are out there.
The film does a pretty good job of allowing you to see both sides. You can understand Tony Stark’s pain at the deaths he has caused, but you also see where Cap is coming from. That putting The Avengers in the hands of dodgy politicians like William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross can’t be a good thing. There’s also the added complication of a certain Winter Soldier, who is causing all sorts of problems leading Tony to want to take him in and Cap to want to protect him.
Interestingly, though, while it is very much a film about those three men’s relationships, the show is stolen out from underneath them by the other Avengers, both old and new. Tom Holland’s Spiderman is the one with all the hype and it is richly deserved. For the first time, Spidey feels like the kid from the comics. Someone who is in massively over his head but is determined to quip his way out of it. Although Marisa Tomei is far too young and attractive to play Aunt May and will hopefully get more to work with in his solo flicks. However, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther comes very close to stealing things out from underneath him. There is a poise to the character that comes across on the screen, and the way he moves is genuinely thrilling to watch.
It’s not just the new guys that put on a good showing, though, and the continued development of Vision and Scarlett Witch is important. They are two incredibly powerful individuals, and this film sees them begin to come to terms with that. Plus Vision in casual wear is a must see. Elsewhere Scarlett Johansson continues to steal scenes as Black Widow, and Paul Rudd proves that he is made to play Ant-Man. It also represents the first time in a while that Marvel have come up with an intriguing bad guy as Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo lurks in the background.
In fact, as a whole, this team just feels more rounded and diverse. Characters like Falcon and War Machine are finally given a bit more to do and they no longer just feel like Cap and Iron Man’s buddies but like legitimate threats in their own right. In the same way that Whedon gave Hawkeye his chance to shine, the Russos are now allowing other fringe characters to make their mark.
These character touches allow you to get through the moments when the film does drag a bit. Like most of these movies, it is too long. However, unlike Age of Ultron, it manages to avoid feeling like it is constantly setting up other films. In this case, it is more that the set up of this film takes a bit longer than it needs to. We all know they are going to fight, and we could have got there quicker.
What makes this film great is how much fun it is. Coming off the slog that was Batman Vs. Superman, it was nice to enter a comic book world that can both deal with real issues and at the same time accept that this is all a bit daft and sometimes needs to be treated that way. These characters never lose a sense of who they are, and there are some lovely little touches as they go to war. I have to admit that this was the first Marvel film I went into with genuine doubts. There were so many names attached that I couldn’t see it being anything but a mess. However under the steady hand of Anthony and Joe Russo, it is a resounding success, and I won’t have the same worries going into Infinity War when that comes about.