Directors Joe and Anthony Russo return after their success with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and pick up the story where that and The Avengers: Age of Ultron left off. The devastation caused in these movies left the world’s leaders on edge, fearing when the next disaster involving superhumans might occur. They draft the Sokovia Accords, legislation that requires all superheroes to register, and put the UN in charge of deciding if and when they should intervene in any crisis situation. The new law creates a rift in the Avengers, with some supporting the need for oversight and accountability, and others believing that the best people to make the necessary choices are the heroes themselves. The conflict escalates, and eventually leads to the titular war between the two factions.
Civil War features more Avengers than the previous movie, including some welcome new faces. Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man meets the Avengers crew for the first time, alongside Black Panther, AKA Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), heir to the throne of the fictional country of Wakanda. He brings a more serious tone to the proceedings, but it’s not out of place and it’s a nice contrast to the comedy of the other new addition, Spiderman (Tom Holland). Now, in his third cinematic incarnation, this is probably the best version of Spidey so far. He brings all the wit and charm from the comics and proves that the best people to handle Marvel’s characters on the big screen are Marvel themselves.
The cast of characters is huge, but recent TV shows like Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey have proven that audiences can cope with this, providing that every character is memorable. The good news here is that, while this is definitely Captain America’s movie, everyone gets a chance to shine. We get the first hints of Vision’s (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch’s (Elizabeth Olsen) affection for each other, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) continues to be the true heart of the team, and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is just too cool. Only Don Cheadle’s War Machine is a bit of a non-entity, feeling like a wannabe Iron Man as he struggles to find his own identity.
The Marvel movie canon is now so big that newcomers will likely feel rather lost — little concession is made to help people catch up on who’s who and why any of it is happening. But for those of us who have followed the interweaving plotlines, this is pure payoff and a joy to watch from start to finish. Unlike the DC universe’s recent clash of superhero titans, Marvel remembered that superhero movies are supposed to be fun, and that’s probably the best adjective to describe Civil War. The fighting is fast and puts the cool factor above believability (as it should be), and there’s plenty of laughs, surprises, and emotional beats. It’s a long movie, around two and a half hours, but the action zips along and never outstays its welcome.
This is easily the best movie Marvel has produced so far. Smart, funny, exciting and fun: everything you could possibly want in a superhero movie. I left the cinema wanting more: more Avengers, more Spiderman, and more Marvel. Luckily, Disney and Marvel agree, and I can’t wait to see where they go next.
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