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Captain America: Civil War Review

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It’s been eight years since the release of Iron Man, and the start of the MCU, Marvel Studio’s great shared universe experiment. In those eight years, we’ve had several star making turns, one or two perceived gambles, an influence on many a studio to copy their business, and entry after entry of rollicking, fun adventures. But in recent years, cries of “the Marvel formula” and a seeming thirst in audiences for harder edged super heroics threatened to derail the Marvel train. But thankfully, that train has changed tracks with The Russo Brothers' Captain America: Civil War, growing up and redefining the universe as it begins it’s highly anticipated third phase, and showing all other comic book movies why Marvel is king of this particular playground.


With the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron fresh in the minds of the world’s governments, and prompted by another Avengers mission that resulted in an international incident, politicians the world over have drafted the Sekovia Accords, which aims to set up a governing body that determines when and where to call in the team. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) falls on the pro side of this legislation, while Captain America (Chris Evans) sees that this hinders their ability to help people. Into this political debate comes Cap’s childhood friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), still changed from being turned into The Winter Soldier, who becomes the focal point of a worldwide man hunt, splitting the Avengers down the middle, and setting both factions against each other.

Using all the Avengers-centric movies of the MCU so far as a jumping off point, Civil War injects a higher degree of maturity that we’ve seen from the studio to date. This isn’t villain A trying to control planet B, and an epic bout of face of face punching wrapping up everything in a neat little package (o.k., there is some pretty epic face punching). This is a conflict of ideologies, and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script goes a long way to making this conflict feel real and believable. The longest Marvel movie at 147 minutes, it wastes no second with a packed narrative that, one or too niggles aside, is just about perfect. From the opening frame, the screws turn slowly, with much of the first and second act seeing the Russo’s set their chess board with great care taken to make sure the audience is fully invested in what is dancing on screen before them. There are many plates spinning here, with personal battles mixing in with the political intrigue, and not once do they wobble, as the story moves forward with the pace of a taut political thriller (with added chases and explosions, of course) . It may be shock to the system for those who’ve been with the MCU since the very beginning, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with not only an incredibly deep and rich narrative, but a barn storming hero on hero battle that closes out the second act with a bang, and one of the most satisfying set pieces Marvel Studios have brought to the big screen to date. This leads to a more low key third act, putting story ahead of spectacle (but still delivering on that count) and leaving audiences hungry for more.

After making their debut to the MCU in stunning fashion with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Russo Brothers further impress showing why they’ve been handed the keys to the Avengers kingdom with Infinity War Parts 1 and 2 waiting on the horizon. While they may not handle the huge ensemble cast with the deftness Joss Whedon had, no character feels wasted, with the script giving everyone time in the spotlight, no matter how small it may be. Evans and Downey Jr. are obviously given the lions share of the story, with actors sparring off each other wonderfully. This feels like the first time the whole shared universe gambit has been used to its fullest, with all the backstory of the previous movies coming together to fully inform the characters’ motivations and beliefs, making everything feel that much more believable. All the other actors have had time with their characters, making them feel like a second skin at this stage, even relative newbies Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) shine with a surprisingly heartfelt sub plot that hopefully bears fruit further down the line. And special mention goes to Paul Rudd, whose Ant-Man is at the centre of the one moment EVERYONE will be talking about.


The newcomers prove to be welcome additions to the MCU, with Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther being the movie’s biggest surprise, growing as a character right in front of our eyes, given the most development of any other character. He imbues Black Panther with a barely contained rage and nobility, that bodes well for his solo adventure in a few years time. Tom Holland impresses as Spider-Man, whose long awaited introduction to the MCU is handled like he was there all along. It’s the most faithful in tone we’ve seen, and you’ll have a smile plastered across your face as he swings into action, wise cracking all the way. His Peter Parker is less assured, but he’s in the costume more than he’s out of it so hopefully he refines the act once Spider-Man: Homecoming comes our next year. Scratching at the edges of this very different super hero tale is Daniel Brühl’s devious Helmut Zemo, which sees the studio finally turn the corner of its villain problem. Ever since Tom Hiddleston’s Loki swaggered onto scene in Thor, every preceding bad guy has paled in comparison, unable to match the trickster god’s charm and charisma. Zemo is the opposite of Loki in every way: cold, calculating, and refreshingly human. His role is one of a master manipulator, remaining in the background, and when his back story is laid out for all to see, you’ll realise how different a villain he actually is.

This phrase is thrown about quite a bit, but now it has more truth than ever: This is the best Marvel movie yet. The Marvel-ution has begun, showing everyone how super hero movies should be done from now on.






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The Movie Bit: Captain America: Civil War Review
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