After 3,764 teasers/posters/stills/trailers and one highly controversial blue carpet event in Singapore, it’s finally here. So let’s begin by telling you whose side we’re on: Captain America: Civil War may well be the best movie that Marvel has ever made. Exaggeration? We think not.
It all starts with an action-packed opening sequence in Lagos, where The Avengers hunt down Crossbones (Frank Grillo), one of the baddies from Captain America: Winter Soldier (see our review). The battle is immaculately shot and brought to us via tight, intimate tracking shots that make the action up close and personal.
Then a tragedy ensues, thanks to a horrendous error by the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The authorities step in and demand that The Avengers come under the auspices of the United Nations. It’s the catalyst for the titular civil war, with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) desperate to make amends for his mistakes in Age of Ultron (see our review). “I’m doing what has to be done to stave off something worse,” he says.
On the other side of the aisle stands war hero and all-round nice guy Captain America (Chris Evans), he of the chiseled jaw and perfect physique. Cap is equally adamant that he is doing the right thing. “We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own,” he counters. Then things get even more complicated when his old buddy and former Soviet assassin Bucky a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) comes into the mix – and it’s time for the bromance to take over.
It’s a fairly complicated narrative, but it won’t be difficult to follow if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s all been building up to this moment since Iron Man (2008), and boy, has it been worth waiting for. These are filmmakers who do not need to be educated about fanboy sensibilities, or on how to tell a compelling story.
For all its super-powered protagonists, Civil War is rooted in the real world with real world consequences. It does so in a way that Batman v Superman (see our review), for all its lofty ambitions, could never be. Imagine that: A plot that actually makes sense, centred on a believable conflict. As co-director Joe Russo said, the story is about accountability, and the issue of just who is right is deliberately left unresolved. As Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen) puts it to Cap: “Just because it’s the path of least resistance doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path.”
But there are no shortage of crowd-pleasing moments, not least the debut of the new Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland). For as much as I loved the Andrew Garfield incarnation, I must say this: Holland is a very, very worthy successor. He walks the walk, he talks the talk, and is the absolute embodiment of a teenage Spider-Man. The story doesn’t waste time dwelling on his origins – instead, there is a wonderful scene where Tony and Peter first meet, which may just bring tears to your eyes.
And wait till we get to the amazing (see what I did there?) 17-minute airport battle sequence, where all the heroes come together, and Spidey gets to display the full range of his abilities. There are marvelous (damn, I did it again) match-ups everywhere: Spidey vs Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Spidey vs Cap, Cap vs Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) versus EVERYONE! The battle does go on just a bit too long, but you’ll be too busy enjoying this fanboy wet dream to care. Somehow, in such a large ensemble, no character feels forced or out of place.
But wait – there’s more to the story than just superheroes turning on each other. Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) lurks in the shadows, plotting and scheming his way to a shocking plot twist that no one will see coming. It’s impossible to say too much without spoiling the movie, but this may well be the Russos’ greatest achievement: A nuanced, sympathetic and believable villain in a Marvel movie (Malekith/Darren Cross/Aldrich Killian, anyone?)
So go on: Wash that awful taste of BvS and that $688 Civil War blue carpet package out of your mouths, and go watch this brilliant movie.
Captain America: Civil War is playing in Singapore now. Tell us your thoughts on the movie!