The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) never stops growing and Civil War is a perfect example of that, introducing new characters at the same time as expanding those we already know but the real story is between two of our original MCU heroes, Captain America and Iron Man. When the debate arises as to whether the actions of the Avengers should be governed by a separate body instead of leaving them to make their own decisions, the team is divided and so begins the battle of Team Cap versus Team Iron Man, as it’s known on twitter.
There’s no denying that each of our principal actors have definitively embodied their characters, is it really possible at this point to think of Steve Rogers without imaging Chris Evans? Iron Man without Robert Downey Jr.? Black Widow without Scarlett Johansson? For most, other than maybe die hard comic fans, the answer is probably no. After admitting that they embody their characters, it really makes it difficult to pick at their performances, there are no real weak points to point out. So moving on to our newer additions; Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) may have established themselves in Age of Ultron but it’s here that they become more than just a part of the team and show their capabilities to be stand out individuals, it’s only in a small dose but it’s noticeable. Then there’s the complete newbies, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, two very different characters; Holland was a surprising choice but it does pay off for the style they’re going for, that style however is questionable, creating a very perky teen, and is quite clearly used to offset some of the seriousness of the film and add comic relief but it’s a slightly strange fit with the rest of the characters, becoming the baby of the group. The other glaring problem with the introduction of Spider-Man is a clear and unapologetic plug for the upcoming Spider-Man Homecoming but we’ll let that slide for now. At the complete opposite is Boseman, fitting into the character with such ease making it appear effortless, creating a hero who’s refined with a definitive grace and responsibility to his actions, a huge departure from the usual brash confidence we’ve seen with the majority of the Avengers. Boseman suits the Black Panther like a glove, just like his feline costume. Lastly it would be wrong not to mention Paul Rudd’s return as Ant-Man, which is a wholly welcome addition and gives him a wonderful warm welcome into the team.
But then there’s our villain Zemo played by Daniel Bruhl, who is a slightly different story, the actor himself is a great choice and does well as the character but the problem is that the character feels completely lacklustre. The backstory to his involvement is much too little and slightly late, as well as missing out on creating that audience dislike or determination to see him fail because he never quite feels intrinsic to the story; rather that he has his part to play in advancing the plot but seems unimportant in the larger scheme of things, it’s a shame that they didn’t put his acting skills to more use.
At this point in time, the advancement of technology is that which makes it difficult to surprise audiences with the vast majority of special effects and so it falls to the choreography to really impress an audience and that’s where Civil War does not disappoint. After several trailers showing glimpses of that critical airport fight scene, it created a huge amount of anticipation and hype but it does not let you down, it’s choreographed excellently, incorporating each of the characters without it feeling too focused on one particular set and actually manages to have a couple of surprises in store. It’s one of several fast-paced complicated fight scenes that are entirely entertaining to watch. On the other hand, the involvement of so many of our heroes in this film seems to confuse some audiences into expecting an Avengers story, when this is certainly a Captain America story that involves a large number of the Avengers but for those aware of that distinction, it follows on well from the larger themes that were introduced in The Winter Soldier, making it more than just your average superhero caper. One issue with the film however is that its entire basis is built on the pre-existing relationship and investment with the characters by the audience, without which it would struggle and most likely would not work as a film for those unfamiliar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Regardless of that, for those who do have a real love for these characters, the complete change of dynamic and the deeper that the story delves into the relationships between them creates something relatively new to the MCU and it’s a welcome change, although it might be slightly too sombre of an affair for some fans, certainly those in the younger portion of the audience, for most it will be a welcome shake-up.
As a whole Civil War manages to successfully integrate a huge amount of characters into one story, without them feeling too needless and gives each of them their part to play and despite a long running time strays away from any low points or dull moments and makes good use of all 147 minutes. It adds a whole new dynamic to the Marvel film and freshens the superhero formula while keeping a large portion of the elements fans already know and love. The Captain America solo films have become, if not financially but critically, the most successful, there’s a lot of work going into the story and production and it’s quite clear to see.