After last year’s somewhat critically mixed response to Avengers: Age of Ultron, was it such a wise move by Marvel to make another super-sized roll call in Captain America: Civil War, already being dubbed “Avengers 2.5”? Well, Avengers 2.5 this ain’t, it’s still very much a Captain America film, and it’s fantastic.
It seems superheroes keeping themselves in check is a bit of a theme in cinema this year and Civil War is no different. After a mission in Nigeria goes awry for our latest team of Avengers, trying to stop fresh villain Crossbones from stealing a biological weapon, the team are brought in and served with the “Sokovia Accords” after their actions cause many a death in trying to stop the new foe in a crowded marketplace. This new act would mean that any superhero would come under the authority of the UN before they can unleash themselves on the world.
However, after a terrorist attack on a UN summit committed by Captain America’s old bestie the Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes, Cap and Iron Man are split down the middle. Stark wants justice, Rogers wants answers. The remaining heroes, Falcon, Vision et al find themselves morally siding with one side or the other about whether to sign up to the act and chaos ensues.
There is much to love about Civil War and it rarely puts a foot wrong. From its opening action sequence in Lagos, the bar is set very high, but only keeps being beaten as the film progresses. Directed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier helmers Joe and Anthony Russo, they’ve upped their game again with their very deft touch of showing multiple superheroes punching the living daylights out of each other, and still allowing you a clear view of the action. Plus the more dramatic elements of the story are handled well, allowing humour and genuine pain where required to shine through without being invasive.
And in those quiter moments are where the performances shine. Robert Downey Jr. is for once a much more sombre and serious Tony Stark than he’s ever been before, making you feel his genuine guilt for the horrors of Ultron past he’s trying to exorcise (however, that’s not to say he’s still not without the odd smart-arse one-liner here and there). Chris Evans is again the stoic but true heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is again rock solid here as our hero out of time. New faces such as Chawick Boseman’s Black Panther add a refreshing youth to the universe and is played with all the regalness and authority that would be expected of the king of Wakanda.
However, the star of the film has got to be Tom Holland’s portrayal as everyone’s favourite web-head, Spider-Man. In the film’s stand-out scene at a German airport, Holland threatens to run away with the film all on his own by being utterly hilarious, being quite a match physically with any of the other heroes at play here and genuinely offering a charming naivety that’s a joy to behold. Put simply, this is the best onscreen portrayal of the character committed to film yet. He is note-perfect. The fact that he’s not only part of the film’s best scene, but potentially one of the best Marvel action scenes ever (battle of New York, you have a challenger) just accentuates his status even more.