Marvel’s phase three is off to a shield-wielding bang with this Avengers-sized third outing for the previously frozen American war hero: Captain American: Civil War. With the Russo bros, Joe and Anthony, back on board as co-directors after their critically acclaimed 2014 sequel Captain America: The Winter Solider, Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers and is joined by all but two of Marvel’s superhero roster in this ideological clash of do-gooders. The question is: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
After the city-destroying events of New York and Sokovia, the powers that be across the globe think it’s about time the Avengers are brought in line – an idea met with a mixed response from the team of world-savers. On one side we have Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the war-weary eccentric billionaire who’s been given a stark sense of reality by a recently bereaved mother of a Sokovian casualty, and leader of the pro-accountability gang. On the other, there’s Steve Rogers/Captain America and his band of rebels who believe political intervention will adversely restrict their do-goodery. Once together, now divided – things get a little messy for Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and co. as Cap once again has his ol’ chum Bucky (Sebastian Stan) in his sights.
The Russos surprised everyone with their previous Captain America outing which successfully turned a cheese-heavy superhero into a kick-ass action star with a now customary Marvel sense of humour. It’s no surprise that the siblings have kept to a similar sleek and sharp tone for an expectedly busy follow-up. With a dozen high-profile characters to manoeuvre into a tightly knit 147 minutes, including the introduction of the new-new Spidey (Tom Holland) and Chadwick Bosman’s Black Panther, it’s all a bit Avengers: 2.5.
With the disappointment of the tonally horrible Batman v Superman still fresh in our memories, we can’t help but thank our lucky Stan Lee stars that Marvel continues to get it right where others (here’s looking at you, DC!) just can’t seem to. Managing to wrestle political-social issues in a satisfying fashion, whilst retaining a dark sense of intrigue and an ability to still produce lots of face-smashing action, as well as a cheeky sense of humour, Civil War – despite being chock-full of everything – manages to pull it off.
With various solo outings to set up and character strands to maintain, it lacks the sleekness of The Winter Solider, but doesn’t feel as much of a tick boxing exercise as Joss Whedon’s Age of Ultron. Though its second half does descend somewhat into a mismatched patch-up of set-pieces following a successfully coherent and intriguing start, it’s a forgiveable side-step for another positive outing from the money printing studio.