The Captain America month continues with a look at the latest Marvel Studios film, Captain America: Civil War. Opening to widespread acclaim, and having a fantastic run at the box office internationally, Civil War has been called the ‘best Marvel Studios film yet’ by some. To me this seems a fair verdict, as it certainly seems to mark a culmination of the last 8 years of films, particularly in relation to the Captain America trilogy.
For starters, I want to talk about the fact that some people have suggested that despite being titled as a Captain America film, the film could just have equally have been billed as an Avengers film. I would disagree with this for two different reasons. Firstly, while the trailers focussed heavily upon the disagreement between Cap and Iron Man over the Sokovia Accords, and the rift that emerges between the heroes due to this, there is a second, substantial plot (which I won’t discuss in details here) that very heavily places the emphasis on this film upon Cap and Bucky. Secondly, I feel that it would be wrong to call this film an Avengers film as it lacks two of the cinematic universe team founders, as Thor and Hulk are missing from this film. To me these two are important characters for any ‘Avengers’ title, and so would also hesitate to call it an Avengers film without them.
Despite this, the sheer number of characters that appear throughout this film is staggering. That almost all the established heroes from the previous films (excluding the aforementioned Hulk and Thor absences) turn up in this film and make their views on the Sokovia Accords known, as well as introducing both Black Panther and Spider-Man to the shared universe. These two characters are introduced perfectly, despite having no real explanations of their origin stories. Personally, I feel that this is part of the strength to their introductions, as instead of re-explaining Spider-Man’s origins, or spending too long focussing on Black Panther’s history (although hopefully some of this will be looked at in the upcoming Black Panther film), they are introduced straight away as well rounded characters, and make the film more enjoyable as it doesn’t break up the flow for needless exposition of these characters.
The villain of the film is also fantastically well implemented into the storyline, and the balancing between his motivations and aims, and the ongoing rivalry between Cap, Iron Man and their assembled teams is perfect. None of these storylines feels like it outshines the other, and similarly the characters all get their own time to shine, and their own place in the storyline that explains why they are standing on one side of the debate over the other. Obviously, as expected from the title, Cap does have the most time on screen, probably followed closely by Iron Man and Bucky, and this again reaffirms my belief that this film is perfectly set up as the finale to the Captain America trilogy. The films pacing also manages to balance between the political side of the Accords and the action sequences, never seeming to linger too long on either. The film also successfully adds to the history of the universe in unexpected ways, and for that it becomes all the better.
The film also will clearly have a lasting impact on the MCU, and I think most people were aware of this both from the title, and from the trailers. However, the exact scale of this impact I don’t think was anticipated by anyone, I know I certainly was not expecting it to leave such a legacy for the future of the Marvel films. It will be interesting to see as well whether the implications from this will carry over into the numerous television series that Marvel have launched alongside, as the Accords certainly feel like they will come into play in some way for every character in this shared universe.
Overall, Captain America: Civil War manages to encompass almost everything I love about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while adding in some new characters and history, and all whilst providing an interesting and different take on the first big event I ever read in comic books. In my eyes, Captain America: Civil War deserves a well-earned 9 out of 10.