Here we go, our spoiler filled review/ discussion of Captain America: Civil War. For a spoiler free review, we have that for you here. It really goes without saying but…do not read anything if you’re worried about spoilers for the film. Go and bloody watch it!
There’s some accidental civilian deaths. Cap and Tony disagree on how this should be handled. Tony wants to sign the Sokovia Accords, Cap says ‘No, thanks’. The Winter Soldier returns, and shit hits the fan. Black Panther and Spiderman enter the fracas. There’s a bust up in an airport. Cap’s team get arrested. Bucky and Cap gang up on Iron Man in Siberia. Cap gives up the Captain America title before breaking his buddies out of superhero (villain?) prison. Credits roll. Bucky is put back on ice and Spiderman gets a new toy from uncle Tony.
So, did it make sense?
We’ve had one experience of a superhero on superhero bust up not making a whole lot of sense this year already so this was a genuine worry. But it does! Phew, it’s tightly scripted and all the character motives make sense. Tony says they need to be governed but Cap doesn’t agree and he goes rogue. Again. For a guy who’s got a goody-goody reputation he’s sure on the run from the law a lot. What I loved about this film is that there’s a legitimate reason for each character to be involved. These characters don’t want to fight each other but are forced to. Things get complicated when Bucky/ Winter Soldier enters the story, framed for blowing up the US embassy and killing T’Chaka. T’Challa wants revenge and forms an allegiance with Tony to stop Cap and company (and kill the Winter Soldier, naturally). Tony was tasked with bringing in Cap and his team of rogues, who were on the run. I like how Tony was the one who wanted to bring Cap’s team in. He feels at-fault for the whole thing and it’s great to see him take some responsibility.
Now all this is really nicely set up and cleverly written. Where the story perhaps falls a little short is where Daniel Bruhl’s Helmut Zemo comes in. His family died in Sokovia, and to avenge them (see what I did there?) he decides to turn the Avengers against each other by showing Mr Stark the video showing his parents’ death at the hands of a brainwashed Winter Solider. Predictably, Tony forgets his truce with Steve and Bucky and attempts to kill Bucky out of sheer rage.
Zemo’s plan however does depend on a lot of coincidental things happening and people reacting to specific things in specific ways. It’s a little convoluted. While I like Bruhl in the role and he delivers a really emotional performance that genuinely makes you feel for the character, you can’t help but question the viability of his master plan.
On the whole though, it holds up well, much better than that other superhero film released in March.
There’s a hell of a lot to like. I almost don’t know where to start. Spiderman and Black Panther are excellent additions, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is hilarious, and that airport scene is incredible. But I’m going to go for a scene that really encapsulates the best thing about this film. It’s the scene at the end with Cap and Bucky versus Iron Man. While it doesn’t have the spectacle or humour of the airport scene, it’s emotionally charged which makes the stakes feel a hell of a lot higher. There are a couple of quotes which are just heart breaking and RDJ is brilliant in this scene. You really feel the pain his character is going through.
Steve Rogers: He’s my friend.
Tony Stark: So was I.
It ends with Tony telling Steve that he doesn’t deserve the shield made for him by Tony’s own father.He feels truly betrayed by a man who is not only a colleague and close friend, but also a man he’s looked up to since childhood because of his father. And you feel that as the audience. It packs such tension and feeling and raw emotion which is often lacking from the all too common grand finales. It’s so personal. I loved it.
I think we’ve finally got the definitive on-screen Spiderman. Who’d have thought getting a kid to play a kid would work eh? Crazy stuff. Tom Holland plays Peter/Spidey with a teenage cockiness with the vulnerability of a child. And it works a treat. His opening scene with Tony Stark is brilliant and hilarious. He has some great moments in that fight scene too, including an Empire Strikes Back-esque take down of Paul Rudd’s Giant Man. Needless to say, I’m very excited for his solo outing next year.
Black Panther too, was a huge positive. Chadwick Boseman is excellent as T’Challa. He plays Black Panther with a regal grace and he has a pivotal role in the story. He’s a proud but levelheaded character and I’m sure he’s got a big part to play in the future of the MCU. I can’t wait to see more of him.
How was the Villain?
As I mentioned above, his motives are a little far-fetched and his plan relies on a lot of things playing out in specific ways that must have been predicted by Zemo. It’s a little convoluted. However, Bruhl delivers a really nice performance as the man who has lost everything. He’s a complex character and I’m hesitant to actually call him a villain, because he’s not really. He’s just a guy consumed by grief. He definitely takes a back seat but he delivers a powerful performance, especially in that end scene which really makes you feel for him. I’d rank him up there with Loki as one of the best villains we’ve had in the MCU. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.
What Didn’t we Like?
Again, Zemo’s plan relying on coincidence was a tad farfetched. But we’ve covered that.
I was hoping for a major game changer here, something that would really shake up the MCU, something we’ve not seen before. We didn’t really get that. Sure, Cap is now a fugitive with his team of Avengers but that letter at the end saying he’ll always be around if Tony needs him kind of undoes that. We won’t know for sure until we see the fallout of the film of course. But given the Avengers are next set to appear in Infinity War, I’m guessing this divide will be overcome quickly. I hope it’s not just like the take down of SHIELD, which felt big at the time but didn’t really have any consequences for the MCU on the whole. I might be wrong, though. I was almost hoping for the Death of Captain America story line, which follows the Civil War comic book. It would have had such a massive impact and would have been a perfect send off for Chris Evans who has brilliantly carried the mantle of Captain America for the past five or so years. I mean, I didn’t want him to die. But from a film making perspective it would have been a tad more satisfying. We need more consequences in this universe and I thought Civil War would be the one to do it.
Post credits scenes
We’re treated to two post-credits scenes. In the first, Cap and Bucky are on holiday in Wakanda or something, hanging at T’Challa’s gaff. Bucky decides that, for everyone’s safety, he should go back into cryo freeze until they can remove Hydra’s brainwashing. It’s an interesting ending. Is it the end of Bucky’s story? Doubtful, Sebastian Stan has approximately fifty more films to do on his contract. Is it part of the Black Panther solo film? Does someone find out Bucky is there and comes for him inciting the wrath of T’Challa and his people? Maybe, but having Cap and Bucky there might take some of the focus off T’Challa. It’d be weird not to mention it if we all know he’s there, though. Who knows what’s going on in Kevin Feige’s head? That guy knows what he’s doing. He’s done alright so far, hey?
The second scene is probably less significant for the future of the MCU. Peter and Aunt May have a funny exchange (“His friend was really big”) before Peter unveils a cool Spidey-watch sort of thingy, obviously sent by Mr Stark. Who knows what it does but it looks like a similar thing to what Tony has going on in his Iron Man suits. Maybe it’s a JARVIS-like interface? I’m sure we’ll find out in Spiderman: Homecoming.
How will this impact the MCU?
So, what’s next? Here’s the slate of films we can look forward to.
- Doctor Strange
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Black Panther
- Avengers: Infinity War Part I (to be retitled)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Captain Marvel
- Avengers: Infinity War Part II (to be retitled)
- Inhumans (TBC)
After the bust up at the airport, Cap’s team (Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Falcon) are all locked up only to be released by Cap before the credits roll. Therefore, they’re all fugitives right? So we’ve got a secret team of illegal Avengers on the run. So, how is this going to work in the upcoming films? Doctor Strange, Guardians Vol. 2, Thor and Captain Marvel will probably be unaffected by Civil War. Black Panther and Spiderman were on the side of the law so their solo films shouldn’t be affected too much. Unless Cap and Bucky appear in Black Panther, that is. We know RDJ is in Spiderman: Homecoming but will it deal with the fallout from Civil War? I’d say it’s unlikely.
However, the main issue comes for me when Ant-Man reappears in 2018. He’s no stranger to run-ins with the law, of course, but this is a somewhat different scale. It could be really cool to see an Ant-Man film where he’s on the run from the government. Of course, he’s joined by Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp this time around. I’ve really no idea how they’re going to pull this off but a sort of underground Avenger story could be really interesting.
As far as Avengers: Infinity War Part I & II (to be renamed) are concerned, it might be a little more complicated, if they want to do it properly. Now that we know the films are to be retitled, it raises the question; are they going to be more independent than we first were led to believe? Will the first film focus on this fallout, with two distinct teams working separately? It would be cool to see this; Cap’s team and the Avengers both fighting for the same thing but antagonising each other before the giant purple alien also known as Thanos turns up. I genuinely hope the team don’t reform too quickly. I still want the conflict to be there. I mean, it got pretty personal. I feel like they’d ruin Civil War if it was just all forgotten about overnight. Maybe part one will be less the galactic battle we expect and more Avengers: Reassemble! Could we get a down to earth fallout from Civil War, a la The Death of Captain America? Obviously our heroes are going to unite at some point but they can’t ignore the events of Civil War, can they?
Saying this, I have full faith in the future of the MCU and particularly the Infinity War films. The writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directors, Joe and Anthony Russo have proven they’re more than ready to tackle this story.
AWESOME. I loved this film a great deal. Rarely do I watch a film I’ve anticipated so much and have my expectations not only met but also exceeded. It’s brilliantly written, directed and acted. For more, you can check out our review here.
Thanks for reading and as ever, get in touch in the comments below or on twitter, if you want. I feel like I’ve barely even scraped the surface here so do get in touch to continue the discussion! Do you agree? How do you think the MCU will fare after Civil War?