If you aren’t an ardent follower of the Marvel Universe then you’d be forgiven for thinking Captain America’s latest stand-alone outing was an Avengers movie – it’s packed to the rafters with superheroes old and new but lacking Thor and the Hulk, thus it isn’t the Avengers proper. The story also firmly centres on Captain America choosing the values he believes in over the ethics that Iron Man and co see the need for. This makes the Civil War touted in the title physical as well as ideological.
The intricacies of the interactions in Civil War – beyond the overarching friendship that Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes share, rivalled and complemented by Steve and Sam of course – is a thing of beauty, as the movie touches on various themes through the different relationships, like Wanda and Vision coming to terms with their powers and Natasha and Tony reaching dissimilar conclusions. Steve reaching some sort of closure with Sharon Carter, his first love Peggy Carter’s niece, felt a bit shoehorned in. The movie was saturated with old, all-encompassing friendships so this new relationship didn’t feel as weighty as it maybe could have. Peggy’s death also felt poignant when coupled with the fact that Agent Carter was just cancelled.
The crux of the movie – the destruction that was caused in Sokovia (in Avengers: Age of Ultron) and Nigeria by the avengers themselves and the guilt that they carry – is in the accords that they are now being forced to sign. Retirement is their only other option. But for Captain America, that isn’t enough. When the Winter Soldier or Bucky, his best friend, seemingly blows up the UN, he looks for him, leading to believe that it wasn’t him that set off the bomb at all. By the time he figures out that Zemo is responsible, however, Stark is already unready to listen to reason.
The whole thing is full of action – great fight scenes – Black Widow is spectacular! – with peppery, snide humour tucked in. It has heart as well – Tony’s guilt makes for a convincing case for regulating superheroes and Steve’s love for Bucky effectively counteracts that, making both sides seemingly viable options. The movie doesn’t lay all questions to rest – the breach still exists but some sort of compromise has been reached.
They also took the opportunity to introduce a couple of newcomers onto the scene – both with movies coming up shortly. T’Challa or Black Panther was fantastic, an electrifying performance by Chadwick Boseman and the knowledge that Bucky is buckled up in Wakanda at the end of the movie make for intriguing questions about what will happen next. Tom Holland as Spiderman (boy?) felt fresh and was utterly hilarious. The regular cast, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, Sebastian Stan as Bucky, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson as Iron Man and Black Widow, Anthony Mackie and Don Cheadle as Sam and Rhodey and Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen as Vision and Wanda put in a good show as usual. Emily VanCamp comes back as Sharon Carter and Daniel Brühl plays a subtle Zemo.
Overall, the build-up to the third Avengers movie is going great, and fans can look forward to even more expansion in the next few years.