Skip to main content

Review: Marvel's Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I'm a former film student of 6 years with a bachelors degree in film production and screenwriting.

Captain America: Civil War: The Russo Brother's craft a compelling narrative around the moral fibre of the Avengers.

Captain America: Civil War does not shy away from incorporating nearly the entire current Avengers line up and even finds time to neatly introduce a few new faces in it's two and a half hours running time. This third instalment in Captain America's trilogy is a brazen, confident and mature effort from the Russo Brothers who also took the Captain to new heights in The Winter Soldier. With the entangled franchises approaching the ultimate royal rumble of the Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War takes us into the ego's of the Avengers as they try to come to terms with the ever increasing death toll resulting from their numerous throw downs with the likes of Loki, Ultron and Hydra.

The two moral opponents exchange blows in an increasingly intense feud.

The set up.

The movie starts by jumping into a slice of backstory with the ever-popular metal-armed Winter Soldier, the Captain's war time buddy, Bucky. The tortured soldier undergoes a painful awakening, reactivation and recovery mission. As you can guess, this brief first scene, sets up the major conflict culminating in the final moments of the film but also cleverly misleads us. Questions are raised here before the opening title sequence has even hit the screen; what's in the briefcase? Can Bucky's mind be saved? A trickle of intrigue runs throughout the movie, a mysterious villain pulls strings from afar. What's his motivation? His plan? The drip feeding of information stemming from this scene keeps us engaged and invested throughout, despite the feeling that long time comic fans will gleam more understanding from these scenes of our peripheral villain than the average multiplex patron.

Oversight or free will?

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War

The divide.

After a mission led by Captain America (Chris Evans) goes awry in present day Lagos and Wakandan humanitarian workers are killed in an explosion the eyes of the world glare at the Avengers in distrust, no longer are they solely protectors, but dangerous vigilantes. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) schools the Avengers in their lack of responsibility shown during their numerous city-tearing super-villain showdowns. This proves particularly painful for Steve Rogers, a man who's super power could almost be his sense of self-righteousness, he sits quietly sulking in his chair. Ross announces the Sokovia Accords; an order from the UN for the Avengers to essentially become a government ran task force, no longer granted the autonomy to act as they see fit. Tony Stark (Robert Downey JR) surprisingly agrees to the Accord after meeting the mother of a victim of Sokovia and hearing his story, showing the feeling of guilt he's been nurturing since Iron Man's first outing on the big screen. Needless to say, the ever increasing band of super powered misfits are instantly divided by opinion; some believing oversight will mean less collateral damage, the others feeling it will only shift the blame.

Scroll to Continue

Handled with sufficient care, the real driving force behind the blockbuster is this internal struggle between conscience and duty, friends and colleagues and at the core of it the poster boys for the Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America are pushed to their moral limits.

The squabble intensifies when a bomb blast at the UN summit in Vienna kills Wakandan King T'Chaka and The Winter Soldier resurfaces as the culprit. But the stubborn Captain cannot hold his old pal accountable and with the help of his closest ally, Falcon, he sets off to track him down before he can be bought to justice. The killing of King T'Chaka leaves his son embittered and vengeful against The Winter Soldier. T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becomes the Black Panther, a Vibranium armoured assassin, determined to take revenge on his father's killer. This surprisingly stream-lined revenge sub plot neatly serves as a compelling origin story of T'Challa/Black Panther which I'm sure we all hope won't be painstakingly retold in lengthy flashbacks during Black Panther's imminent solo movie.

Bucky's resurgence acts as the catalyst, fanning the flames of the developing rift amongst the Avengers forming two sides; one led by the righteous but now lawless Captain America and the other led by a guilt fearing Iron Man.


The pacing of an action thriller.

The rift culminates in an inventive and spectacular brawl of fists and one-liners between Team Cap and Team Iron Man. A great deal rested on this action sequence; so the Russo Brothers understood as they handled the duel of Marvel's champions with a striking mix of humour, outlandish power and jaw-dropping CGI whilst staying true to the more mature subject matter of the movie. Gone are the extravagant battles amongst crumbling cityscapes, the arenas of action have been simplified in favour of focus on the personal dilemma facing our heroes. All current and present Avengers (Note that Thor and Hulk are absent throughout) are utilised to all their ability along with the inclusion of Ant-Man, Black Panther and the latest incarnation of Spider-man, this time a younger, out of depth yet plucky teenage Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Fan's of Spider-man will be more than pleased with the fresh and charming take on the classic web-slinger as he 'geeks out' (like we often do) as he stands toe-to-toe with his own role models.

At the core of this story is the juxtaposition between the two highest ranking Avengers: the morally reforming Iron Man and the dutiful Captain America. Both men we've seen develop throughout their respective franchises in different directions and perhaps finally this Civil War reveals Captain America's moral flawlessness to be his biggest fault. Here he stands as an outlaw, believing he is still doing the right thing. Elevating himself above the government, his key motivation is his loyalty to his friend, Bucky and not necessarily to his country, we see a new side to the former Patriot. With the villainous Zemo manipulating events from the shadows, the Avengers are drawn into a finale designed to divide and destroy them permanently.

Based on a highly popular comic book story line, this instalment shows a new and more mature side to Marvel and caters for long time fans and general movie goers. Anthony and Joe Russo along with Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely craft a story where the boundaries between morality and duty are blurred, with both sides of the divide clearly and understandably motivated by conflicting beliefs - it's highly possible fans heading into the movie in support of Team Iron Man will leave batting for Team Cap and vice versa. But beneath the political diatribe is an emotional core to the story which makes it all the more compelling; the Captain's search for his troubled and brain washed friend, almost irregardless of the consequences and Iron Man's desire to hush the voices of guilt that plague him. Two men born into different era's and raised on different values; the futurist, struggling to find peace under the weight of his responsibility and the war hero with his old world patriotism and belief in the good of individuals clinging onto the companionship of his old friend. Civil War has proven to be one of Marvel's most engaging, entertaining and challenging flicks yet.


Related Articles