Potential spoilers for Captain America: Civil War follow.
Watching Captain America: Civil War makes you realise all the things that were wrong with Batman vs. Superman. Where the DC film was dark, overly serious and demanded some leaps of logic that stretched your already strained credibility, the latest instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is bright, colourful and (if you can excuse all the superpowers) actually makes sense for the most part.
The film has the benefit of being sufficiently late in the series that most members of the audience will have an investment in the characters and an understanding of their motivations. Whilst there’s still enjoyment to be had if you’ve never seen a Marvel movie before, it’s a lot easier, say, to understand Tony Stark’s decisions and actions here if you’ve seen the two Avengers films.
Despite the presence of Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and a number of other characters, this is very much a Captain America film, with the story revolving around Steve Rogers and his relationship with Bucky Barnes, the titular ‘Winter Soldier’ of the previous series entry. More could have been made of this, and it’s not really until a monologue at the end of the film that I really understood the reason why this friendship meant so much to Rogers. The Winter Solider takes up a lot of screen-time, but there’s relatively little advancement of his character other than some pretty sharp changes in attitude, making there appear something of a disconnect between his actions and the way others are reacting to him.
But never mind all of that. The main draw of the film is watching one bunch of superheroes fighting a bunch of other superheroes, and it does this pretty damned well. The ‘big’ fight scene takes place roughly halfway through the film, and is fantastically well choreographed. Whilst the limitations of movie budgets and audience knowledge mean that we could never have the all-out war depicted in the comics, this is still a visual treat. The fact that it manages to look so impressive without the CGI being overly obvious is a credit to the filmmakers. There’s another fight sequence towards the end of the film between Iron Man, Captain America and the Winter Soldier which, whilst not as grand in scale as what comes before it, is much more visceral and savage.
What I found made the conflict in the film interesting was that there was never a sense of being told or led in the direction of one side being ‘right’. True, the film’s focus on Cap means that his viewpoint is expressed more, but you always understand the opposing side. Perhaps at the end Tony Stark’s anger – understandable but perhaps misplaced – is shown as being a little hollow, something the film juxtaposes with Blank Panther’s character arc. There’s a distinctly human element to all of the heroes (even those who actually aren’t) that makes the film enjoyable on a level deeper than the normal superhero ‘action’ basis.
All in all, Civil War is probably the best Marvel film since Guardians of the Galaxy, and sets up an interesting basis for the next ‘phase’ of the series. If you’ve not seen it, go and watch it. Now. Go on.