By Andrew Hanley | @AHanleyFilm
After the latest in Avengers-related catastrophes results in an overwhelming loss of life in Nigeria, the United Nations calls an emergency summit to restrict the sovereignty currently ascribed to the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes by enforcing the Accords – a worldwide accountability structure to elect when, where and if superheroes should assemble. With new dangers arising and dark secrets coming to light, the Avengers are split down the middle as Captain America and Iron Man lead separate and opposing charges to restrict global chaos.
With each instalment into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, therein lies a landslide of computer-generated collateral damage with a few barbs and perhaps a slight insight into its thinly veiled characters. That’s not a criticism. In fact it’s more than we get from most superhero films and not every summer blockbuster can be Jaws (nor should it). However Civil War is our first real indication of a single, building narrative coming to a head, even more so than Phase One’s mythic Avengers Assemble and its subsequent haphazard Infinity Gauntlet plot. All roads lead to Rome, as we know, and with Civil War the Russo Brothers have ensured that the Colosseum is open for business.
This year’s Batman v Superman tread similar terrain yet suffered from too many capes in the kitchen. The Russo Brothers, in their second swing at Captain America, don’t fall into such potholes by keeping the drama where it belongs and typically relying on its supporting players for lightening the mood – Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky do have some hilarious quarrels for the title of Cap’s BFF. This is a Captain America film, an Iron Man film, and an Avengers film but in precisely that order.
The first Marvel film I can recall that pushes its 12A rating, the Russos don’t hold any punches when it comes to the Civil War storyline. Cultivating carnage and several shit-the-bed moments for A-Company, the devastation and casualties are certainly hammered home particularly when a grieving mother holds Tony personally responsible for her young son’s demise. Even more impressive are the literal punches that aren’t held during any one of the half-dozen breathtaking action set pieces throughout the adrenaline-fuelled 147 minutes. The choreography and practical effects are at an all-time high, making it much easier to digest the light-hearted CGI madness that is par for the course during the film’s standout airport battlefield sequence.
There might be some character introductions that were short-changed in the editing room and a plotline or two that were tied up too neatly but it’s impossible to remain concerned when there’s so much good in this film. Paul Rudd gets another comedic exhibition in his reprisal of Ant-Man whilst Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland boast magnificent debuts as Black Panther and Spider-man respectively, undoubtedly pre-selling millions of tickets for their forthcoming solo films.
The Russos significantly improve upon the solid foundation that Joss Whedon built with the first two Avengers films and as they march onwards into Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2, it just might be possible that Marvel have found their mightiest heroes.
In case it needed clarifying, it’s lucky thirteen for the Avengers Initiative as Marvel kicks off Phase Three with the greatest superhero blockbuster ever put to film.
In Colour @ the Movies | Captain America: Civil War | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Daniel Brühl and William Hurt.
Captain America: Civil War is in cinemas from April 29th.
Andrew Hanley is a filmmaker and blogger. He has a sharp tongue, a critical eye and a kind heart. You can follow his blog here #AndrewHatesMovies